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Policy Bulletin 2021 / 7 (Means Test Changes)

1 Nov 2021

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved exempting certain types of matters from the Means Test. This includes some Guardianship and Mental Health matters, Prisoners Legal Matters and parents in primary Care and Protection proceedings.

Background

Legal Aid NSW applies the Means Test to grants of legal aid. The Means Test requires a significant amount of financial information from the client to assess eligibility for legal representation.

Under the Strategic plan, Legal Aid NSW has been working on numerous projects to make the grants application process quicker and easier.  The first of a suite of changes the Board has approved is to remove the Means Test for grants of legal aid in the following matters:

  • Prisoners’ matters, including parole hearings, life re-sentencing matters and segregation appeals
  • Guardianship and Mental Health matters where the client is the subject of the proceedings, and
  • Parents in primary Care and Protection proceedings.

The people who are affected by these legal matters are among our most disadvantaged clients. They face the biggest challenges accessing the financial information required for a grant of legal aid because of the complex life circumstances surrounding their legal problem and/or because they are in prison or other detention facility.

Our data indicates most clients with these types of matters satisfy the Means Test. The change will improve the application process for both clients and lawyers.

What has changed?

The Means Test has been removed from grants of legal aid for the following matters:

  • Prisoners’ matters including parole hearings, life sentence determinations and segregation appeals,
  • Guardianship and Mental Health matters where the client is the subject of the proceedings, and
  • Parents in primary Care and Protection proceedings.

Where are the changes?

The changes are set out in the Policy Online at:

Commencement date

The changes apply to applications determined on or after 1 November 2021.

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.