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Annual Report 2010 - 2011

Training our partners

We provide our partners with regular training and mentoring opportunities and, in turn, they bring invaluable expertise to our conferences and seminars.

Major achievements

Priority 3: Integrated services

We trained and resourced our partners so they are in a better position to help disadvantaged clients. Initiatives included:

  • four two-day training programs for lawyers who are part of the Domestic Violence Practitioner Service in Sydney and Newcastle;
  • liaison on domestic violence issues between the Mentoring Project Officer and government and community agencies, including presentations at NSW Police Force domestic violence liaison officer training;
  • training and resources for lawyers working with clients who have an intellectual disability, part of a two-year partnership agreement with the Intellectual Disability Rights Service;
  • training community sector lawyers about new tenancy laws;
  • training advocacy and support groups for people with HIV about the law on privacy, health records and unlawful discrimination;
  • a forum for domestic violence workers including specialist training provided by the Mental Health Coordinating Council of NSW;
  • policy training to LawAccess NSW, community legal centres and other external stakeholders so they can give clients accurate information about our services and make appropriate referrals;
  • training sessions and a conference in Parramatta for family relationship centre and community legal centre staff on family law and the Family Court;
  • training for community workers on legal issues contributing to homelessness; and
  • discrimination law workshops for workers in Aboriginal services organisations.

For numbers attending each training course, see Appendix 4.

Educating partners about our new early intervention program

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Better Partnerships Program, brings together three key agencies to assist families to resolve disputes without going to court. As part of its leadership role, Legal Aid NSW provided intensive early intervention training for its partners – community legal centres and family relationship centres. These included information sessions, court visits, debriefs, a specialist workshop and a conference in Parramatta with speakers including Elizabeth Kelly, Deputy Secretary, Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and Associate Professor Lawrie Moloney, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Communicating change through our publishing program

The biggest changes to credit law in 15 years began in July 2010. In partnership with the Consumer Credit Legal Centre (NSW) Inc, we published the Credit Law Toolkit, an interactive training toolkit, and distributed it nationwide to community legal centres, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, private lawyers and financial counsellors. Financial counsellors reported the new resource was very useful for training and as a reference for two of the most common consumer credit problems: financial hardship and unjust or unsuitable credit provision.

With project partners – Inner City Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre – we were the lead agency in publishing the third edition of Fined Out, an overview of how fines are dealt with in New South Wales, including changes to Work and Development Orders.

The Mortgage Stress Handbook (2nd edition) was published in partnership with the Consumer Credit Legal Centre (NSW) Inc to include changes brought in under new Commonwealth laws in 2010. Unlike the New South Wales- specific first edition, the second edition has national application.

Both the Mortgage Stress Handbook and Credit Law Toolkit were funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Planning ahead

Year ahead

Develop e-learning modules to better inform our partners about Legal Aid NSW eligibility policies.

Publish the second stage of the credit law interactive training toolkit to cover consumer debt enforcement and collection and fringe lending.

Provide mentoring and professional support to lawyers working in the regions as part of our Regional Outreach Clinic Program including training on working with Aboriginal clients and training community workers to help them identify legal issues.

Key challenge

Finding new and better ways to resource our partners.