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Policy Bulletin 2019 / 12 (Elder Abuse)

30 Sep 2019

On 24 September 2019 the Legal Aid NSW Board approved changes to eligibility policies to clarify that legal aid is available to people who are experiencing, or at risk of, elder abuse.

Background

In December 2017, the Legal Aid NSW Board approved the Elder Abuse Strategy. Part of the Strategy was to conduct a comprehensive review of the client eligibility policies and address barriers to access to legal services for people who are experiencing, or at risk of, elder abuse. This included amendments to the Means Test, and family law and civil law policies.

What has changed?

  • Family Law Policy 5.6 clarifies that legal aid is available to a third party to intervene in family law proceedings.
  • Civil Law Policy 6.4.1 clarifies that legal aid is available where an older person has acted as guarantor for a child’s business loan in circumstances which have resulted in a loss of home situation.

  • Civil Law Policy 6.4.2 clarifies that legal aid is available to protect the interest of an older person’s property in circumstances where they have had to leave that property because of elder abuse.

  • Means Test 7.10.4 under the discretion to grant legal aid to older applicants with excess home equity, the exceptional circumstances test has been removed. The definition of an ‘older person’ is now someone aged over 65 years or 55 years if an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, to align with the Elder Abuse Strategy.

Commencement date

The changes to the Means Test, Civil and Family Law Policies apply to applications determined on or after 1 October 2019.

Contact for further information

Please contact the Client Eligibility Unit for any questions about the changes at aideen.mcgarrigle@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or 9219 5701; petra.wilson-jones@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or 9134 9307.