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Access to Justice and the Online World

On Thursday 21 March 2019 Nicholes Family Lawyers, in conjunction with Victoria Women Lawyers hosted a seminar discussing the impact of online world on ‘justice’. The seminar explored the various ways in which the emergence of technology and the online world has impacted on individuals’ ability to access both the court system, and justice more broadly. This concept of justice ranges from family and individual therapy, to community legal support, all the way through to engagement with the court system.

The discussion was facilitated by Nicholes Partner Bec Dahl and panel members consisted of:

  • Dr Catherine Boland, a clinic psychologist who has experience working with children, young people and patients experiencing relationship issues and situations of family conflict and separation.
  • Julie Kun, CEO of the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE), Victoria’s only service that provides information support and referral to any woman or gender non-binary/diverse person on any issue; and
  • Emma Heggie, an experienced family law barrister with specific knowledge of cases relating to the Family Court’s online filing and notification system, admission of new forms of evidence in proceedings and e-briefing.

The panel discussed various issues, including the perpetration of family violence through online mediums, the increase in access to the legal system through technology, the changes in the types of evidence relied upon in Court and where things can go from here to make things more accessible.

(L-R): Dr Catherine Boland, Barrister Emma Heggie and CEO of WIRE Julie Kun

The panel provided insight into the ways in which the perpetration of family violence has changed with the development of technology. The development of social media has expanded the platforms through which abuse and violence are committed, including the increase in online stalking and tracking, abusive messaging and so on.

The discussion around the types of violence and abuse performed through social media led to a discussion around the types of evidence that are now relied upon in Court. The legal system has seen the introduction of news kinds of evidence relied upon by parties, including screen shots of messages and internet history logs.

The panel concluded that the development of the online world has not only improved individuals’ ability to access both the court system and justice more broadly, but has made the process safer for those who feel in danger. Nicholes were pleased to once again partner with Victoria Women Lawyers to host the seminar.


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