The Foundation was established in 1967 to improve access to justice in NSW, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged people.
The Foundation achieves its goals by:
- identifying needs through independent research and in partner research with universities
- supporting community and other organisations to produce a wide range of access to justice initiatives (i.e. information booklets, DVDs, workshops, research) through financial and other support from its grants program
- promoting the use of Plain English to produce understandable legal information
- producing a range of publications which helps to promote access to justice activity
- acknowledging the outstanding work of people working to improve access to justice by managing the annual Justice Awards
- supporting legal system reforms and new justice initiatives by contributing research findings to policy development.
Over its 50 year history, the Foundation’s role as a catalyst of legal change has transformed the legal landscape in NSW and beyond. The Foundation played an important role in the establishment of the College of Law, the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC). In 1974, the Foundation established the High School Education Law Project (HELP), which led to the inclusion of Legal Studies in the NSW HSC curriculum. A leader in the plain language law movement in the 1980s, the Foundation was responsible the development of many resources including the Pocket Guide to Law, The Law Handbook, The Tenants’ Rights Manual, The Mental Health Rights Manual and The Immigration Kit.
In 2012, the Foundation published the Legal Australia-Wide (LAW) Survey, the largest national legal needs survey conducted anywhere in the world. The Foundation continues to be a leader in research on civil justice, as demonstrated by its recent Data insights in civil justice reports for the Department of Justice on data from the NSW Local Court and NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunals.