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Annual Report 2012 - 2013

Overview

Legal Aid NSW is the largest legal aid agency in Australia. Our organisation was established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979. Recent years have seen considerable growth in advice and minor assistance services, new initiatives that take legal services into the community and the establishment of specialist services in three legal practice areas.

We provide a range of legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged people through our Central Sydney office and 20 regional offices around New South Wales.

We also work in partnership with private lawyers who receive funding from Legal Aid NSW to represent legally aided clients.

We are an independent statutory body reporting to the NSW Attorney General, the Hon Greg Smith SC.

Our role

Legal Aid NSW helps people to understand and protect their legal rights. We do this through advice, advocacy, representation and education, with a focus on disadvantaged people and communities.

We are committed to providing an expert service, being inclusive and respectful, and making a difference.

Our priorities

  • Promoting access to justice
  • Pursuing excellence in legal services
  • Supporting our people
  • Linking services

Our commitment

We are committed to:

  • providing an expert service
  • being inclusive and respectful
  • making a difference

About this report

This annual report reviews and reports on our activities and performance, including what we set out to do in the second year of our Legal Aid NSW Plan for 2011–2013, based on four key priorities:

  • promoting access to justice;
  • pursuing excellence in legal services;
  • supporting our people; and
  • linking services.

Achievements in this report are aligned with priorities from the plan, and include:

  • service expansion in regional and remote areas;
  • early intervention strategies;
  • better information and referral services;
  • several service evaluations;
  • the introduction of new health and wellbeing strategies for staff; and
  • strong partnerships so we can respond better to clients' changing legal needs.

This report incorporates all operational activities of our organisation, including joint initiatives. It reflects our commitment to effective corporate governance through openness and accountability, and provides an account of our revenue and how we have used public funds.

As well as the past year, the report looks to the year ahead and comments on the challenges facing Legal Aid NSW in a difficult funding environment.

In this report we refer to ourselves as Legal Aid NSW.

Last year's annual report received a Gold Award from the Australasian Reporting Awards - our sixth Gold Award.

This is our 34th annual report. This, and some earlier annual reports, are available on the Legal Aid NSW website in pdf format and HTML.

Unless marked as Commonwealth legislation (Cth), all legislation in this report is relevant to New South Wales.

Cover photo: Taking legal services into the wider community

Legal Aid NSW opened legal advice clinics in Migrant Resource Centres across New South Wales – a practical way of improving access to the legal system for culturally diverse clients. In this photo, Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre staff welcome Ruth Pilkinton from Legal Aid NSW. You can read more about this partnership at 'Migrants have better access to legal services'. Photo: Ernest Fratczak.