Apples, oranges and lemons

The use and utility of administrative data in the Victorian legal assistance sector
Data processing Databases data access Courts Access to justice Civil justice Victoria
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Reliable data is powerful. It has potential to illuminate the forces shaping our society. Data is increasingly used to help us understand complex issues and one important source is administrative data.

Administrative data is information collected and stored as part of the everyday function of organisations. It can be used to generate insights into the operation of the legal system.

In the legal context, service providers are demanding more from their data to improve and design effective services. Used well, administrative data can measure not only the volume and type of work done, but the success of services and programs.

To unlock the potential of this data, we first need to know what data exists, its form and quality, how it is currently used, and what it can be used for. Hence this project to map data collected by the Victorian civil justice system.

This is key to more fully exploiting its potential as a tool for answering important access to justice questions.

Key findings:

  • Data practice was variable
  • Data quality was variable
  • Variation in quality and practice has implications
  • Innovative data practice was constrained by database limitations
  • Data capability varied but was universally constrained by resourcing
  • Capturing complex clients and services requires complex data
  • Capturing outcomes and quantifying impacts presents additional challenges
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