The benefits of health justice partnerships in regional Australia

Dr Liz Curran, Senior Lecturer at the ANU College of Law gave an ‘invited’ conference paper at the International Legal Aid Conference in Edinburgh on 12 June 2015 on Health Justice Partnerships (HJP).

Preliminary findings of her evaluation of a project a partnership between the Advocacy and Rights Centre in Bendigo and Bendigo Community Health Service in regional Australia suggest placing a lawyer in a community health setting enables greater reach to vulnerable and disadvantaged clients who would otherwise not seek legal help with their problems but who share their problems with trusted health professionals.

The evaluation by ANU commissioned by ARC Justice, funded by a range of philanthropic organisations, is assisted by Research Assistant, Dr Robert Southgate with expert advisors including Dr Alex Phillip (expert in public health) and Professor Mary Anne Noone (La Trobe University).

Evidence so far suggests that embedding/integrating a lawyer in a health and allied health setting can have positive impacts on the social determinants of the health of community members. It suggests a prevention of the escalation of problems and reducing risk of relapse and assistance in effective targeting of people in most need.

This work builds on the report of Peter Noble’s Clayton Utz Fellowship Report ‘Better Health through Medical Legal Partnership’; Linda Gyorki’s Churchill Fellowship Report, ‘Breaking down the silos’ and Professor Noone and Kate Digney Report, ‘It’s Hard to Open up to Strangers Report’ and other international studies.

This research tackles the vexed issue of measuring impacts and social determinants of health head on.  Interest in Dr Curran’s collaborative action research approach has led to further follow up from other jurisdictions since the delivery of the ILAG paper including from Canada, Belgium, the United States and South Africa. Stay tuned as the research unfolds in this two year evaluation project.

Dr Curran is also involved in other HJP evaluations and has provided advice to a number of HJPs. 

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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team