• Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • EAN: 9781760021245
  • 320 pages; 6" x 8⅝"
Filed Under: Civil Rights

Law and Poverty in Australia

40 Years after the Poverty Commission


Product Description

The publication of the Poverty Commission’s Law and Poverty in Australia Report (the Sackville Report) in 1975 was a landmark event in the history of Australian law reform. Since that time, and as Australia has become a more unequal society, there has been no systematic overview of the inter-relation between law and poverty in Australia. This book attempts to fill the gap by bringing together a range of experts from civil society, the legal profession and academe, including the disciplines of law, social science and criminology.

The book provides an inventory of progress made over the past four decades with regard to the many proposals contained in the original Law and Poverty Report. The overall conclusion is that the scorecard is uneven. Substantial implementation of the reforms has occurred in many areas, such as consumer and tenancy law. Despite initial progress in other areas, such as tax law, legal aid and social security, there has been deterioration.

It also highlights some important aspects of poverty and law not contained in the original Report: the intersection of the experiences of LGBTI people, poverty and law; the international dimension of law and poverty in light of globalisation; and the critical importance of tax rules in relation to poverty.

The book concludes by identifying critical areas for reform to address the legal problems that poor people confront. They include: cuts to legal aid and community legal centre funding; security of tenure for residential tenants; redistribution of the tax burden; regulation of the power of government agencies, such as social security and the police; and greater security in the sphere of employment law.

In the media…

Justice Ronald Sackville, Vicki Sentas, Professor Brendan Edgeworth and Scarlet Wilcock on ABC Radio National, Law Report with Damien Carrick_16 May 2017 Listen to interview…

Law and Poverty in Australia: 40 years after the Poverty Commission, Inside UNSW Law, Issue 3, 2017_19 May 2017 Read article…

About the Contributors

1. Law and Poverty in Australia Today: A Reassessment
Andrea Durbach, Brendan Edgeworth and Vicki Sentas

2. The Law and Poverty Report 40 Years On
Ronald Sackville

3. The Henderson Legacy: Four Decades of Australian Poverty Research
Peter Saunders

4. Poverty and Law: A Comparative Perspective
Malcolm Langford

5. Law, Poverty and Inequality in Contemporary Australia
Cassandra Goldie and Brendan Edgeworth

6. Indigenous Australia and Social Justice, 40 Years On
Larissa Behrendt

7. Expanding the Gaze: LGBTI People, Discrimination and Disadvantage in Australia
Jed Horner

8. People with Multiple and Complex Support Needs, Disadvantage and Criminal Justice Systems: 40 Years After the Sackville Report
Eileen Baldry

9. Australian Residential Tenancy Law 40 Years After the Sackville Report: A Multi-Level Snapshot
Brendan Edgeworth

10. Consumer Credit, Debt and Disadvantage: How Far Have We Come in 40 Years?
Carolyn Bond

11. Labour Law and Poverty in Australia: The Transformation of a Wage-Earners’ Welfare State
Anthony O’Donnell

12. In Search of Tax Reform
Julian Disney

13. Social (In)Security and Inequality in Australia: The Limited Role of Human Rights in the Policy Debate
Beth Goldblatt

14. Social Security Administration: Producing Poverty and Punishment
Scarlet Wilcock

15. ‘Between the Idea and the Reality’: Securing Access to Justice in an Environment of Declining Points of Entry
Andrea Durbach

16. The Civil and Family Law Needs of Indigenous People 40 Years After Sackville: Findings of the Indigenous Legal Needs Project
Fiona Allison, Chris Cunneen, Melanie Schwartz

17. The Poverty of Criminal Law: Criminalisation and the Limits of Access to Justice
Vicki Sentas

18. A ‘Law and Development’ Perspective on Law, Poverty and Human Rights
Wouter Vandenhole

19. How the International Monetary Fund Has Contributed to Global Poverty
Ross P Buckley


This book provides authors and readers with an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and unfinished work of the Sackville Report, an inquiry into law and poverty in Australia produced in the dying days of the Whitlam government. Depending on the authors’ and readers’ place in the legal sector and history, the collection serves different purposes. For those who experienced the waves? of change characteristic of the Whitlam ?era, it is an opportunity to reflect on,? and perhaps be a little surprised by, the reforms that succeeded and those that didn’t. For the inheritors of the legacy of? the Sackville Inquiry, who may not know ?any different world, it is an opportunity to learn a foundation story that informs and makes sense of the ways in which the legal assistance sector continues to operate to this day. This understanding is particularly necessary as we face the effects of the fourth industrial revolution and assess? which of our established practices must be preserved and which must change to survive and thrive in a disrupted legal landscape. The objective of the Poverty Inquiry – to identify ways of alleviating poverty – remains largely unfulfilled. In the country that holds the world record for the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth, inequality is a growing problem. – Katie Miller, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, Jan/Feb 2018

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