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Annual Report 2011 - 2012

National benchmarking

Commonwealth funding to Legal Aid NSW is governed by the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (NPA) 2010–2014.

The National Partnership Agreement requires Legal Aid NSW to report to the Commonwealth every six months on progress against performance benchmarks and related indicators set out in the NPA.

Priority: Excellence in legal services

Legal Aid NSW has made substantial progress against the performance indicators set out in the NPA. The rate of growth in the majority of services provided by Legal Aid NSW under the NPA has increased significantly as initiatives funded through the NPA continue to be implemented. After two years of operation, solid results have been achieved across all areas, with total services already exceeding the 25% performance benchmark set by the Commonwealth. Results in early intervention services have been particularly strong. Preventative services are included within the total of all services and, while not subject to a separate performance indicator, achieved an increase of 30% from the benchmark year.

One of the benchmarks that measures our success with clients is “less than 20% of legal aid grant recipients return seeking a grant of legal aid for the same type of matter within a 24-month period”. We satisfied this benchmark, with only 8.6% of clients returning.

Highlights of some of the results we have achieved halfway through the term of the NPA are indicated in the table below.

New projects and services funded under the National Partnership Agreement

A selection of highlight projects:

Civil and family law outreach services to culturally and linguistically diverse communities

This new service will provide outreach legal services in immigration and family law to clients in Migrant Resource Centres across Sydney. Legal Aid NSW has entered into a partnership with Settlement Services Australia, a peak body representing Migrant Resource Centres, to receive advice about needs for legal services and outreach locations.

Visa cancellation service

A new senior lawyer will be employed in the civil law practice to conduct visa cancellation matters on character grounds under s501 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Payday lending project

This project will protect financially vulnerable people from unlawful activity in the ‘small amount’ credit market and help them to pursue sustainable credit options.

Inhouse mediators in Family Court registries

A specialist lawyer/family dispute resolution practitioner will continue to be based at Parramatta Family Court to provide a mediation service on litigation matters as part of the Court Ordered Mediation Project. This mediation service will also be expanded to the Sydney Registry of the Family Court.

Expansion of civil law outreach services

New civil law outreach services will assist people in rural and remote communities including the Far West, Tamworth and Orange, people at risk of homelessness, people with chronic mental illness and young people.

Specialist family violence lawyer

A senior lawyer will coordinate a cross-practice, whole-of-organisation approach to domestic and family violence. Funding includes training all staff over the next two years to improve the knowledge and understanding of domestic violence issues.

Community legal education package on cyberbullying

A new community legal education (CLE) resource will be developed targeting young people and parents about the risks of cyberbullying and sexting. The CLE package will include a web-based tool for use in training and will be delivered in rural and regional New South Wales.

Reporting against Commonwealth benchmarks (1)

Performance Indicator Performance Benchmark 2011–12 Service Count 2009–10 Service Count Comment
Number of early intervention services delivered 30% increase in the number of early intervention services 78,832 59,927 Between 2009–10 and 2011–12 there was a 31.5% increase in early intervention services (2)
Total number of services delivered 25% increase in the total number of services delivered 7,141,757 5,498,356 Between 2009–10 and 2011–12 there was an increase of 29.9% in total services.

(1) Due to timing differences in data extraction, service volumes reported against Commonwealth benchmarks will be different to those provided in the Annual Report.
(2) Excludes State criminal law services.