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Annual Report 2011 - 2012

Training and resourcing 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: Linking services

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

  • a challenging program for family dispute resolution practitioners, including two professional development sessions and a professional development day using web conferencing for country participants and specialist training in conciliation and Aboriginal culture; and
  • a three-day national training program for independent children’s lawyers delivered in partnership with the Law Council of Australia.

Private lawyers undertaking legal aid work and registered for Grants Online were given access to the Legal Aid NSW Online Learning Management System.

Four e-learning policy modules were made available to partners.

Priority: Excellence in legal services

Using web conferencing technology, remotely based lawyers from the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ ACT, Community Legal Centres, the Family Violence Prevention Legal Service and Legal Aid NSW could connect with each other from their desktops for the first time. See Web conferencing.

In September 2011, Legal Aid NSW ran a two-day training program for all Regional Outreach Clinic Program providers in housing law, employment, discrimination, social security, credit and debt, fines, victims’ compensation, family law, care and protection, child support and domestic violence. As many ROCP clinics are in locations with comparatively high Aboriginal populations, providers received training from the Aboriginal Legal Service.

Providing training to staff and support workers in the area of domestic violence was a key initiative this year. Part of the role of a new domestic violence senior lawyer is to provide professional support and expertise to lawyers. Funding includes whole-of-organisation training on domestic violence delivered over the next three years.

Private lawyers can now access a greater range of online resources to help them in their partnership with Legal Aid NSW, including best practice guidelines and tipsheets (>For lawyers >Resources and tools >Domestic violence).

The new Sexual Assault Communications Privilege Service, discussed earlier in Privacy for victims of sexual assault, took a strategic approach that covered all aspects of training and resourcing our partners, including:

  • training 27 private lawyers (13 from regional, rural and remote New South Wales) to conduct privilege matters;
  • commencing a statewide education program to promote awareness of the privilege and the new service to the legal profession, counsellors and other health professionals, medical records staff, nongovernment organisations and police; and
  • developing referral networks, notably with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Witness Assistance Scheme.

Priority: Access to justice

We regularly update LawAccess NSW about new services and changes to our services. We have provided training to a range of organisations about our services including Community Legal Centres, Aboriginal Field Officers, Cooperative Legal Service Delivery partners, and parliamentary staff.

Priority: Linking services

We offered partner agencies 10 places on our Diploma of Management Program.

The Offshore Asylum Seeker Project, a partnership between Legal Aid NSW and the Public Interest Law Clearing House NSW, assists individuals in immigration detention throughout Australia who have been refused refugee status and have the right to judicial review. The project matches individuals with legal representatives through the creation of a clearinghouse. Several training sessions have been delivered covering current law and the future direction of judicial review in immigration matters, in order to assist barristers and lawyers interested in taking on these matters. In 2011-2012, 329 client contacts were made and 279 files were opened.

The project made 174 referrals to barristers for advice, and provided 144 advice and representation services.

Communicating better about our work

To make sure our partners are kept up-to-date about our services, policies and key developments in the law, Legal Aid NSW launched a monthly e-newsletter in May 2012. Subscribers include private lawyers, courts and tribunal staff, Community Legal Centres, community organisations, Government departments and journalists. To subscribe go to the News section of the Legal Aid NSW website.

Planning ahead

Year ahead

Develop a training program for private lawyers that enhances their ability to deliver services to joint clients and contributes to their professional development.

Key challenge

Finding new and better ways to resource our partners within a tight financial environment.

Highlight: Resource partnership benefits older people

The Older Persons’ Legal and Education Program works in partnership with the Aged-care Rights Service, a specialist community legal centre. In addition to advice and casework, the Program builds the capacity of public legal services to respond to the needs of older people. We extended the Legal Pathways Project to increase the access of disadvantaged older people in regional areas to legal services. This partnership project involves Legal Aid NSW, the Council on the Ageing (NSW) and the Law Society of NSW.

New resources were developed, including the booklet, Speaking for Myself: planning for later life decision-making, which was developed with the Benevolent Society, and the Legal Topics for Older Persons Diary 2012. Both addressed identified needs for targeted information. We published and distributed 15,000 copies of the diary.

The Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program used its extensive regional networks to ensure these resources reached older people across the State, especially in remote areas.

Andrew Constance, Minister for Aging

The Minister for Ageing, Andrew Constance, launched the new resource on planning ahead at Parliament House in August 2011.