A landmark report has revealed that legal problems are a hidden epidemic in our community, affecting around 8.5 million Australians each year - almost half the national population over 15 years of age.
The Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal Need in Australia interviewed 20,716 people across all states and territories, making it the most comprehensive assessment of legal needs conducted anywhere in the world.
The most common legal problems in the survey included consumer (21%), crime (14%), housing (12%) and government (11%).
The survey shows that people with a disability, single parents, unemployed people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are more likely to have legal problems, and that many people are not seeking professional legal help that could help resolve their problems because they don't know where to go, find it too stressful, or can't afford it.
The survey also shows that legal problems have an impact on the health, social and economic life of Australians. Income loss or financial strain was associated with 29% of legal problems, stress-related illness with 20%, physical ill-health with 19% and relationship breakdown with 10%.
The survey was carried out by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW with support from National Legal Aid.
Visit the National Legal Aid website for a media release, a fact sheet and a link to the report.