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NSW government invests in AI to solve legal problems

The NSW government has announced an investment in artificial intelligence, in a move the Attorney-General has said will further support vulnerable groups needing legal assistance.

user iconLauren Croft 21 July 2021 Politics
NSW Government invests in AI to solve legal problems
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New technology to help diagnose legal problems will be used to better support vulnerable groups in NSW, according to Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

$174,000 has been awarded to support not-for-profit organisation Justice Connect to build a language processing model to help an estimated 50,000 people across NSW search for legal resources and services online.

This is one of two groundbreaking projects to share in a total of $250,000 in funding under the NSW government’s Access to Justice Innovation Fund (AJIF). The government has pledged $1 million over four years to the AJIF, with applications for the next round of funding to open in the second half of 2021.


Mr Speakman said that the AJIF projects would help those who may lack legal literacy access the support they need.

“Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and the system must be fair to all those who come into contact with it,” he said.

“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.”

Justice Connect CEO Chris Povey said his team will collect thousands of language samples from diverse groups in NSW to incorporate into the AI model’s training, with the help of hundreds of pro bono lawyers.

“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,” he said.

The University of Sydney has also been awarded $76,000 in funding to develop a fairer assessment model for parents with a cognitive disability involved in care proceedings before the Children’s Court. The assessments are a vital part of these proceedings and this investment will ensure parents with intellectual disabilities are assessed accurately and fairly.

Dr Susan Collings from the University of Sydney’s Research Centre for Children and Families said parents with an intellectual disability are much more likely to lose their child to statutory care.

“These families have a right to equal access to justice. Shifting professional beliefs and practices is the black box that this project seeks to unlock,” Dr Collings said.

Justice Connect’s AI model will be free to other not-for-profit organisations in NSW and the University of Sydney’s resources will be freely available to parents, Children’s Court clinicians, the court and statutory caseworkers across the state.