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Policy Bulletin 2020 / 5 (COVID-19 changes for parents in care proceedings)

4 May 2020

The Legal Aid NSW Chief Executive Officer has approved exempting parents in primary care and protection matters from the Means Test for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

Due to the changes in court and office protocols, we are not having face-to-face contact with our clients in care proceedings. We have found many of our vulnerable care clients are finding it difficult to complete the legal aid application form and even where completed, they struggle to lodge it with us. It has been particularly difficult for them to complete the financial information section of the application form. To improve access to our services, we will not be requiring parents in primary care and protection proceedings to provide their financial information for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will simplify the application process for these clients.

We will continue to collect the client’s demographic information and information about their legal problem.

What has changed?

Parents in primary care proceedings will be exempt from the Means Test for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a specific Grants Online template that can be used where you are applying for a client who is a parent (or has parental responsibility) and is applying for primary care and protection proceedings.

Where are the changes?

The changes are set out in the Policy Online at Means Test at 7.2.

Commencement date

The changes to the Means Test apply to applications determined on or after 4 May 2020.

Contact for further information

Please contact Aideen McGarrigle, Manager Client Eligibility Unit for any questions about the changes  Aideen.mcgarrigle@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or 9219 5701.