Understand better justice

Data and empirical evidence to help understand access to justice and build a better justice system.

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Research to understand legal need and capability

Our research focuses on the legal and related needs of Victorians, and over time, will make a significant contribution to the Victorian justice system.

Our Research Principles

Impact

We undertake useful research to support improved civil legal services for Victorians.

Rigour

We use sound methodologies and rely on clear evidence for any conclusions.

Collaboration

We work in a collaborative way with the legal sector, civil society and others in the interests of access to justice for Victorians.

Communication

We make our reports publicly available and engage with the sector on research activity.

Independence

We maintain our independence.

Our research plan

Our research program is divided into four streams, which will each produce complementary outcomes.

Mapping justice

Looking at the availability and content of institutional data across a broad range of civil justice bodies, to understand how legal matters progress, see possible issues with legal processes and identify barriers to access to justice.

Surveying legal literacy

Discovering what Victorians know about their justice system, its institutions and the role they see it play in their lives.

Researching programs and interventions

Taking a rigorous empirical approach to evaluate the need for different legal services, as well as their processes, impacts and outcomes, so that we can figure out 'what works.'

Coordinating and sharing research

Connecting the justice, community and academic sectors to enable knowledge sharing, encourage collaboration, extend the reach of our work and help us to learn from the experience of local and international experts.

Research projects

Our projects cover institutional and general public perspectives.

The PULS is a Victoria-wide survey to understand how people see, understand and engage with the law.

PULS logo on a gradient background

Exploring the opportunities and challenges that come from tailoring services to meet legal need from across the Victorian justice and legal assistance sector.

Mapping institutional data across a broad range of civil justice bodies.

A survey of the community legal centre workforce across Victoria.

Showcasing access to justice and legal need development

Connecting the justice, community and academic sectors around legal research and evaluation related to access to justice.

Research publications

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Problems at work: Young people, employment and legal need
The Public Understanding of Law Survey
Short paper
May 16, 2024
Young people
Mental health
Legal need
Legal capability
PULS

For young people, links between employment problems and mental health are particularly strong, with psychological distress a common consequence.

May 2024
How single parents experience the law in Victoria
The Public Understanding of Law Survey
In Brief
April 24, 2024
Families and relationships
PULS
Legal need

Single parents have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to experiencing multiple substantial legal problems.

April 2024
Mental distress and experience of legal problems
The Public Understanding of Law Survey
In Brief
April 24, 2024
Mental health
PULS
Legal need

Psychological distress and mental illness have been shown to be among the factors most powerfully associated with problems arising in people’s lives that raise legal issues.

April 2024
The Public Understanding of Law Survey (PULS) Volume 2: Understanding and Capability
The Public Understanding of Law Survey
Research Report
February 7, 2024
Legal capability
Legal capability
PULS
Legal need

Explore the knowledge, skills and attributes that are required to effectively understand and use the law.

February 2024
Pricing Practice: Exploring Costs in Victorian Legal Services
Research Report
September 15, 2023
Legal profession
Financial

Examining the factors that influence the pricing of legal services, how practitioners communicate costs, and how they affect the lawyer-client relationship.

September 2023
The Public Understanding of Law Survey (PULS) Volume 1: Everyday Problems and Legal Need
The Public Understanding of Law Survey
Research Report
August 30, 2023
Legal need
Legal capability
PULS

This first volume updates the broad picture of access to justice and legal need, explores how justiciable problems are experienced, what people do about them, and how they progress and conclude.

August 2023
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Keep up to date with our latest research, new publications, research events and insights.

We take your privacy seriously and will only email you with occasional updates. More details can be found in our privacy statement.
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Informing policy and practice

Drawing on our research, we engage with decisionmakers across the justice and community sectors to share our understanding of the legal experience, needs and capability.

Meet the Research Team

Victoria Law Foundation's highly-skilled research team have many years of experience in legal research.

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Hugh M. McDonald
Acting Research Director

Hugh joined the Foundation in September 2019 as Principal Researcher. He previously worked at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, on several landmark access to justice and legal need projects.

Throughout his career, he has worked closely with legal aid commissions, community legal centres, state and federal governments, giving him a deep understanding of legal institutions and access to justice issues throughout Australia.

Bridget McAloon
Senior Researcher

Bridget joined the Victoria Law Foundation in June 2023 as a Senior Researcher. With over 20 years of experience in monitoring, assessment and project management, Bridget is an evaluation specialist. She holds a Master of Public Health from Monash University, and is skilled in quantitative and qualitative measurement and analysis, and building evaluation capacity and systems.

With a background working in international and community not-for-profits, Bridget has led evaluation and research over the last 8 years at Victoria Legal Aid, driving evidence-based practice to underpin the design and delivery of effective, client-centred legal services.

Georgina Rychner
Senior Researcher

Georgina joined Victoria Law Foundation in June 2023 as a Senior Researcher.

Georgina has a PhD in Legal History from Monash University and has a history of quantitative and qualitative research, which includes working as a Senior Analyst for the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office and several leading Australian universities.

Her work has been published in the International Journal for Crime, Justice, and Social Democracy, and other journals.

Tenielle Hagland
Research Coordinator

Tenielle joined the Foundation in 2015 and has a strong background in the community legal world. She has coordinated our work with the profession on improving communication through our plain language and Better Information programs as well as providing plain language workshops to law students.

As Research Coordinator, she works across all research activity, and has a lead role in the development of the Research Network.

Clare Kennedy
Research Communications

Clare joined the VLF in January 2017 as the Foundation’s legal writer and editor, managing the Foundation’s publications and producing legal content.

Clare joins the research team as a communications and content specialist. She brings a legal background, and extensive content and production experience to the role.

Zhigang Wei
Data Analyst

Zhigang joined Victoria Law Foundation in May 2024 as a Data Analyst.  

Zhigang has a PhD in criminology from Griffith University and extensive research experience working in various government and non-government organisations. He previously worked at the Australian Institute of Criminology, at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, where he was one of the authors of the seminal Legal Australia-Wide Survey reports, and more recently, at the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and cohealth.  

Zhigang is an expert in data analysis and drawing insights from large, complex datasets. He is also a published author of numerous peer-reviewed research publications. 

Manasvi Muthukrishnan

Manasvi joined the Foundation in May 2024 as a Quantitative Researcher.

Manasvi has a Master of Applied Economics from the University of Adelaide where her research interests included the Australian labour market, wage theft, and economic policy solutions.  

Manasvi previously worked at the Attorney-General’s Department in South Australia and for the Department of Transport in Victoria providing economic and public policy advice.  

Manasvi has also worked in the community legal sector helping vulnerable women seeking legal assistance.

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PULS Volume 2: Understanding and Capability is now available

Explore the knowledge, skills and attributes that are required to effectively understand and use the law.