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Annual Report 2011 - 2012

Financial overview

"On 30 June 2012 the net equity for Legal Aid NSW was $8.4 million."


Legal Aid NSW receives its income as a grant from the Department of Attorney General and Justice. The grant comprises income mainly from the NSW Government and Commonwealth Government. In addition, income is received from the Public Purpose Fund, interest and client contributions.

Total income for 2011–2012 was $243.6 million and expenditure was $244.7 million.

Funding from the NSW Government was $113.3 million. This represents a 5.8% increase on 2010–2011.

Funding from the Commonwealth Government under the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) was $61.6 million. This represents a 2.2% increase on 2010–2011.

Commonwealth funding under the NPA is being reviewed to ensure legal service delivery is cost-effective and efficient (see Commonwealth review).

Key developments

There was an operating deficit of $0.2 million, which is an improvement on the budgeted deficit of $0.9 million.

We ended the year with a net equity of $8.4 million.

Payments of $100.3 million were made to private lawyers, who provide legal aid services to our clients in partnership with Legal Aid NSW. These payments include disbursements for other professional services.

Priority: Excellence in legal services

Major achievements

Improving the way we work

This year we developed a more flexible reporting system to better meet the organisation’s needs. In addition, we simplified our financial management system and commenced work on a major reconfiguration of our Chart of Accounts.

Managing cost pressures

Like all State Government agencies, Legal Aid NSW is required to make budget savings to State-funded programs. A number of reviews this year will assist us to make informed rigorous decisions in relation to short-term and longer-term savings.

Planning ahead

Year ahead

Finalise the implementation of a new Chart of Accounts supported by a new module in the financial management system.

Make budget savings across a range of areas — assignment practices, Legal Aid NSW policies and workforce management.

Key challenge

Continuing to operate within budget and maintain high quality services to clients.

Payment of accounts

We paid all accounts on time and were not required to pay penalty interest on any account.

Credit card certification

In accordance with Treasurer’s Direction 205.01, it is certified that credit card usage by Legal Aid NSW officers has been in accordance with the appropriate government policies, Premier’s memoranda and Treasurer’s Directions, and meets best practice guidelines issued by Treasury.

Financial glossary

Public Purpose Fund

The Public Purpose Fund has been established under the Legal Profession Act 2004, (the Act). The fund is administered by the Law Society of NSW under the direction of its four trustees, three of whom are appointed by the Attorney General, and the fourth being the Director General of the Attorney General’s Department. Payments from this fund may be made in respect of costs and expenses incurred by the Law Society, a Council (the Law Society Council or the Bar Council) and the Legal Services Commissioner in connection with the exercise of their functions under the Act.

Payments may also be made from the Fund for certain purposes, including the supplementation of the Legal Aid Fund, the Fidelity Fund and the Law Foundation Fund. Payments may also be made for legal education programs, law reform and improving access to legal information for the people of NSW.

Client contributions

In many cases Legal Aid NSW requires an initial contribution based on income and assets from a person granted legal aid. Certain cases are exempt.

At the conclusion of the case or the legal aid grant, Legal Aid NSW may recover the total costs of a matter where the applicant has recovered a sum of money or other asset or there is a substantial improvement in their financial circumstances.

Community programs

Legal Aid NSW provides funding for the Community Legal Centres Funding Program and the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (see Community programs, Appendix 5&6).