Collaboration through the COVID-19 crisis: lessons for systemic change

Access to justice Health equity Health practitioners Legal services Australia

2020 brought pain, heartache and devastation for millions around the world. It revealed catastrophic failings in health and human service systems and in our ability to learn from past failures to avoid replicating them in future. However, it also provided a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness and preparedness of health and human services to respond to changing need. There is much to learn from these experiences and the approaches that are emerging as a result. There is also much to celebrate in what worked; and much that can be sustained into the future as service systems adapt and evolve through this period.

Health justice partnership is one approach that provided key value in meeting rapidly evolving health and legal needs over the course of 2020. Health justice partnerships are service collaborations that embed legal help in the healthcare teams and settings where people are likely to have trusted relationships, to tackle the legal problems that affect people’s health and wellbeing. These problems range from quality of housing and security of employment to family violence, elder abuse and stigma and discrimination.

This report draws on the insights of health and legal assistance services and practitioners and their representative bodies, including those working in health justice partnership and from their services more broadly.

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