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Annual Report 2010 - 2011

Community legal education

"We delivered 44% of our community legal education sessions in regional New South Wales thanks to strong local partnerships."

Community legal education (CLE) equips people with the awareness, knowledge and skills needed to successfully resolve law related problems encountered in everyday life. Legal Aid NSW has a strong history of providing community legal education as part of its core services to the public.

CLE sets out to help people anticipate problems, act more quickly when problems do occur and deal with legal issues more effectively, including knowing when and where to get support and expert help. CLE covers a wide range of activities aimed at increasing legal capability. CLE can be delivered as a workshop in a school, a legal theatre performance, a web based resource or a step by step guide or brochure.

In 2009 we developed a CLE Strategic Plan 2009-2011 to guide our CLE work. This plan is based on the Corporate Plan priorities and its actions are linked to divisional plans.

Major achievements

Priority 1: Social inclusion

The CLE program focuses on providing innovative programs for priority client groups and structured programs for community sector workers who work with socially and economically disadvantaged people.

Highlights included delivering:

  • 322 CLE sessions to Aboriginal people
  • 197 CLE sessions to prisoners
  • 85 CLE sessions to homeless people
  • 213 CLE sessions to children and young people.

Total community lega education sessions 5 year trend graph

Priority 2: Access to justice

Early access to legal assistance through information and community legal education is an important aspect of this corporate priority.

The CLE Strategic Plan identifies a number of actions to increase targeted preventative services.

Highlights included:

  • expanding the workshop program for community sector workers to regional areas including Newcastle, Wollongong, the Riverina, Central West, South Coast, Central Tablelands and North Coast and increasing the number of workshop topics offered from 8 to 14;
  • responding swiftly to events that had the potential to cause people financial stress including delivering CLE to flood-affected communities in the Riverina, North Coast and Central West as well as communities affected by the closure of companies that are major employers;
  • making better use of the web and increasing access to information on legal issues for prisoners in New South Wales by working with Corrective Services NSW and other legal service providers to develop a static web based legal information portal for prisoners; and improving relationships with non-legal service providers working with disadvantaged communities.

The first Koori men's legal workshop was run over three days in May 2011The first Koori men’s legal workshop was run over three days in May 2011. Participants were given information about family and civil law, especially how to deal with legal problems before they become more serious.

Priority 4: Organisational flexibility

We developed a suite of tools to improve the quality of community legal education resources. We undertook a structured needs analysis and user tested two forthcoming resources:

Best for Kids: Family law information for children and parents; and What’s the law?— Australian law for new arrivals.

Planning ahead

Year ahead

Develop our capacity to deliver quality community legal education sessions by providing enhanced professional development opportunities to staff.

Deliver train the trainer workshops for English language teachers, tutors and community workers in using the new education kit What’s the law? Australian law for new arrivals.

Develop and deliver innovative education to parents and family support workers about the family law concept ‘best interests of children’.

Expand the number of community legal education sessions for Aboriginal communities and agencies.

Develop a web-based Community Legal Education Management system that will interface with the Legal Aid NSW web site, providing new functionality such as an online calendar of workshops and enhanced registration processes.

Key challenge

Improving the quality of community legal education services through the development of improved planning, systems and processes.