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Annual Report 2011 - 2012

Community legal education

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 and avoid legal 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.

The strategic plan which guided our work in 2011–2012 is based on the Legal Aid NSW Plan priorities and the actions are linked to the Operational Plan.

Major achievements

"We were able to reach a much wider audience through creative multimedia projects."

Priority: Access to justice

The CLE program provides innovative programs for priority client groups and structured programs for community sector workers who work with socially and economically disadvantaged people. Early access to legal assistance through information and community legal education is an important strategy and this year our creative multimedia education strategy helped us to reach a wider audience.

Best For Kids red carpet launch

At a red carpet launch, family lawyer Hai-Van Nguyen is interviewed about her role in the new Best for Kids DVD.

Highlights included:

  • Setting up the Best for Kids website for families going through separation. The site features videos, interactive guides and links to legal and nonlegal services with captioning in Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese and closed captioning for hearing impaired people. Best for Kids has dedicated social media channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Producing What’s the law?, an education kit for English language teachers to use with newly arrived migrants and refugees. It includes a DVD with 10 photo stories about common legal problems, teachers’ notes, student activity sheets and certificates of attendance. What’s the law? also has a dedicated YouTube channel.
  • Publishing an information kit for people in gaol who face the prospect of visa cancellation on character grounds.
  • Developing a DVD called Law for Everyday Life to help community workers identify civil law problems.
  • Presenting 28 workshops for young people in schools, youth centres and juvenile justice centres to warn them of the dangers of criminal behaviour in groups. A total of 3,897 young people attended along with 300 juvenile justice and youth workers.
  • Releasing a new brochure in English and Arabic outlining the revised qualification criteria for the Disability Support Pension, with tips for doctors on how to assist their patients with pension claims.
  • Increasing CLE to Aboriginal people across the State by 18%.
  • Producing a brochure for Aboriginal people called Who gets my stuff after I die? which was used to complement wills clinics for Aboriginal people.

CLE sessions

Priority: Excellence in legal services

The Legal Aid NSW Plan for 2011– 2012 identified two areas of focus for quality legal education services: staff training and project evaluation.

Highlights included:

To better equip Legal Aid NSW staff involved in developing and delivering our CLE program, we delivered four professional development sessions to 61 people. Training concentrated on facilitation skills and service evaluation.

We developed an evaluation framework and collected data in order to evaluate three CLE projects in 2012: the Law for Community Sector Workers program, the What’s the law? train-the-trainer workshop and Best for Kids website.

Priority: Supporting our people

We commenced developing a new CLE management system that will achieve better reporting and assist in planning targeted education programs.

Priority: Linking services

Many of our CLE projects were developed and delivered through strategic partnerships with other legal and non-legal services.

Highlights included:

  • Developing What’s the law? education kits with National Legal Aid in partnership the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Kits are used by adult migrant education English teachers, English home tutors and settlement service workers.
  • Delivering a number of innovative projects in partnership with Community Legal Centres including: To Tweet or Not to Tweet? with the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre; and the Migrant Women Workplace project with Kingsford Legal Centre and Asian Women at Work Inc.

Planning ahead

Year ahead

Encourage professional development of staff so as to improve the quality of CLE.

Implement a new web-based community legal education management system, including instruction and support for staff.

Develop a new web-based resource for young people and parents about the risks of cyberbullying and sexting.

Develop an annual whole-of-organisation strategic plan for community legal education.

Key challenge

Ensuring the community legal education program is as effective as possible through a structured approach and strategic direction.