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Legal Aid NSW Plan 2022-2023 and Project Respect

Legal Aid NSW exists to represent and serve the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Through our work, we use the law to help people understand, defend and assert their rights. It is an important role that we are entrusted by our community to deliver, and we do it well, with a deep belief in and commitment to our clients’ cause.

The Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018 – 2023 sets out our vision and purpose, as well as the strategic outcomes and initiatives that guide our efforts. The last year of our 5-year plan will focus on building on the work we have done over the last four years.

Our Strategic Plan also confirms our commitment to creating an inclusive and culturally safe workplace and taking action against racism and discrimination. This year we launched a concentrated program of activity, Project Respect, to bring together the voices of staff and external experts to lead discussions about strengthening our culture, reviewing and committing to our values, and ensuring our processes and policies support a fair and equitable organisation.

Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2022 – 2023

Our Strategic Plan sets out the focus of our strategic outcomes and initiatives.

Last year we established the Family Law Service for Aboriginal Communities (FAMAC), a state-wide specialist team that will deliver targeted and holistic legal services to disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities through outreach and by phone. FAMAC provides litigation and early intervention services as well as strategic advocacy, aimed at reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system. FAMAC joins the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities (CLSAC) in providing specialist dedicated civil law legal services to Aboriginal communities. Last year we also established a dedicated unit in our Criminal Law Division to support the Walama List in the District Court. This year we will expand the Aboriginal Women Leaving Custody program and our services in the Youth Koori Courts.

A key initiative in the Strategic Plan is to develop flexible service models that best match the needs of our clients from start to finish. In Year Five, we will complete this work by having in place a process where our clients will be triaged to access the service that best meets their needs. We will continue our work to simplify our client entry and work towards making it faster and easier to apply for a grant of aid. In improving our client access, we will launch an easy-to-navigate website, which will include a client portal.

This year we will establish a state-wide ‘Respect at Work’ Legal Service providing end-to-end legal assistance for people experiencing workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, including CLE, short services, representation and facilitated referrals to support services.

Over the past two years we have amended our policies to expand the range of matters where Aboriginal women are eligible for legal aid in the Local Court. We also expanded services in Far and North-Western NSW to enhance access to our services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait clients. As part of our commitment to achieve the targets of Closing the Gap, this year we pledge a program of work that will align with reducing systemic disadvantage by improving life outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by doing things differently.

Legal Aid NSW is committed to working across government, with stakeholders, community, in collaboration with the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations and our clients to achieve the Closing the Gap priority reforms, outcomes and targets.

Our staff are our greatest asset and this year we will continue our extensive program of work to support the well-being and career development of all our staff. To reflect the diversity of our clients, we will continue to take steps to support the recruitment of diverse staff, including a target to lift the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to 11% of our workforce by 2023.