What is law reform?

Law reform is advocating for change to make laws, policies and procedures fairer. This can include things like making submissions to Royal Commissions, speaking to Members of Parliament and speaking to public bodies to encourage them to make positive change. It can also include conducting casework that deals with important or systemic issues at court, which is often referred to as strategic litigation.

Why is law reform important?

Often laws, policies and procedures can be unfair or have unintended consequences that make them unfair. The lack of fairness or unintended consequences can be devastating for individuals and communities, which may not always be completely understood by decision makers.

Without asking for decision makers to change unfair laws, policies and procedures, those unintended consequences can continue indefinitely.

GCLS and law reform

Law reform is at the heart of GCLS’ work. We are committed to advocating for change to unfair laws, policies and procedures to ensure that the legal system is fair, accessible and transparent for everyone in Gippsland.

We also acknowledge that unfair laws, policies and procedures often impact the most disadvantaged members of the community the most.

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How GCLS approaches law reform

Where GCLS identifies that particular laws, policies or procedures are unfair, we actively advocate for change with decision makers and key stakeholders. This lack of fairness often becomes clear as a direct result of our experience helping clients with their legal problems. In some cases, we may even ask clients for permission to use their story as an example in our advocacy for change.

Recent examples of law reform activities at GCLS include, participating the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to COVID-19, and advocating for systemic change at local police stations.
Where GCLS makes public submissions in the course of our law reform advocacy, those publications can be viewed on our Annual Reports and Publications page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Law reform issues will be directly related to specific legal problems. The easiest way to raise a potential law reform issue with GCLS is to ask us for advice about the legal problem behind the potential law reform issue.
If you believe that there is a potential law reform issue that requires change, you should bring the issue to our attention when asking for legal advice. Whether GCLS can advocate on your behalf will depend on the issue itself and the legal problem that gave rise to the issue. It may also depend on the resources that we have available to advocate.
Some law reform issues are extremely specialised or complex, and GCLS may not always have enough experience with them to advise you on the best way forward. Whether GCLS can give you advice on a law reform issue that you want to pursue individually will depend on the issue itself and the legal problem that gave rise to the issue. It may also depend on the resources that we have available to advocate.
Gippsland Community Legal Service