Where the law and health overlap

In the Law Institute Journal this month, Law Institute of Victoria Chief Executive Officer Michael Brett Young called for legal and medical practitioners to work together to reform advance care directives. His editorial highlights an important point. Legal issues are often linked to other issues such as health, housing or employment, and it’s not always easy to know when, if or where you should seek legal help.

Research by the NSW Law and Justice Foundation in 2006 found that we rarely go straight to a lawyer for help with a legal problem. Often our first port of call is a doctor, social worker, housing officer, council worker or other non-legal professional. In many cases, its a family member or friend.

When we launched our Law Help Guide in 2009 our aim was to reach out to people who were seeking help for health, housing and other issues that also have legal implications. We wanted to make it easier for them to find the right person or service to address their legal problem.

34,000 copies of the Law help guide have been distributed through doctor’s surgeries in 2012

Each month, more than 1500 Victorians pick up a copy of this free plain language guide from the waiting room of their doctor’s surgery. Thirty-four thousand copies of the 2012 guide have been distributed in total through doctor’s surgeries, and another 41,000 copies have been distributed through other agencies, such as local councils, health and community care organisations.

Our publications team is working on the 2013 edition, due to hit the shelves on 5 November. We would love to hear from anyone who has used this publication to find a legal service or to help a client find a legal help. Post your feedback on the blog, or email your feedback – or put in your pre-order for the next edition – to publications@victorialawfoundation.org.au.

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