Two projects will improve access to justice for vulnerable people, thanks to new funding grants under the NSW government’s Innovation Fund program.
Not-for-profit organisation Justice Connect and the University of Sydney will share in $250,000 in funding under the government’s Access to Justice Innovation Fund, which provides investment in artificial intelligence (AI) technology to address legal problems.
Justice Connect will receive $174,000 to build a language processing model to help an estimated 50,000 people across the state who lack the legal literacy they may need when searching for resources and services online.
The University of Sydney will use its $76,000 to develop a fairer assessment model for parents with a cognitive disability involved in care proceedings before the Children’s Court.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said in a statement: “Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and the system must be fair to all those who come into contact with it.”
“These cutting-edge projects will help people with a disability, seniors, Aboriginal people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds understand and exercise their legal rights,” Speakman said.
Justice Connect CEO Chris Povey said “we hope our project can serve as an example of AI for good and can ultimately be used by legal organisations across the justice sector”.
Povey said his team will gather thousands of language samples from diverse groups in NSW to incorporate into the AI model’s training.
Susan Collings from The University of Sydney’s Research Centre for Children and Families said their funding would help parents with an intellectual disability, who statistically are more likely to lose their child to statutory care but must “have a right to equal access to justice”.
“Shifting professional beliefs and practices is the black box that this project seeks to unlock,” Collings said.
The Government has pledged $1 million over four years to the Fund, with applications for the next round to open later this year.