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Policy Bulletin 3 / 18 (Criminal Law Policy – Means Test for Children)

2 Jul 2018

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved an amendment to the Means Test exempting children from the Means Test in all criminal law proceedings.


Currently there is no Means Test for children in Children’s Court matters. The Means Test does apply to children in other criminal law proceedings such as District and Supreme Court criminal law matters. It is generally the financial means of the financial associated person (eg. The parent of guardian) that is taken into account when assessing the means of a child. An analysis of our data over the past three years indicates that no child was refused legal aid for a trial or sentence matter in the District and Supreme Court on the basis of means.

With the introduction of the Early Appropriate Guilty Plea reforms, Legal Aid NSW has introduced a seamless grants administration process which means, rather than having to apply for legal aid for the trial (or sentence) following a committal, only an extension of the committal application is required. This improves the efficiency of the grants administration process. Removing the Means Test for children in all criminal matters means the same model can be applied to children who are committed to trial and/or sentence at the District or Supreme Court. This will ensure there is an efficient grants administration system. To ensure consistency in the approach to children in criminal law matters, the Board approved removing the Means Test for children in all criminal law matters.

What has changed?

There is no Means Test applied to children in criminal proceedings, which includes:

· Children’s Court matters

· Appeals to the District Court

· Stated cases to the Supreme Court

· Indictable matters in the District and Supreme Court, and

· Appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal and High Court.

See Policy Online at Criminal Law Policy 4.16 .

Commencement date

The change applies to applications for legal aid determined on or after 2 July 2018.

Contact for further information

Please contact the In-house Counsel Unit for any questions about the change on legalpolicy@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or contact Aideen McGarrigle on 9219 5701