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Annual Report 2012 - 2013

National benchmarking

Commonwealth funding to Legal Aid NSW is governed by the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (NPA) which came into operation in July 2010 and which continues until June 2014.

PRIORITY: EXCELLENCE IN LEGAL SERVICES

Legal Aid NSW exceeded the Commonwealth benchmark of a 25% increase in total services, with the statistics for 2009–2010 to 2012–2013 showing an increase of 97.3% (or 30.5% if website page views and State criminal law services are excluded). The increase in early intervention services was 55.6% (excluding State criminal law), well in excess of the Commonwealth benchmark increase of 30%.

Our performance against other key reporting requirements shows that Legal Aid NSW policies for providing services are consistent with Commonwealth priorities and principles.

We collected and used a variety of data on supply, demand and unmet need to monitor and plan our services. In addition to using information collected through our grants and case management systems and data from external agencies, we commissioned our own surveys and reviews of our services.

Among these were the biennial survey of client satisfaction with Legal Aid NSW advice and minor assistance services and the Legal Australia-Wide (LAW) Survey, co-funded by National Legal Aid. The former showed that the overall client satisfaction rate was 91.5%, up on the 89.5% rate in the 2011 survey. Results from the LAW survey informed development of the Legal Aid NSW Plan 2013–2014. More details on surveys and reviews appear at Building our capacity to provide better services and Regular reviews and independent scrutiny.

We supported increased coordination and collaboration, working in formal partnerships with the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd, LawAccess NSW, Community Legal Centres NSW and private lawyers. Legal Aid NSW also partnered with government and community based organisations on particular projects to increase the access to justice of disadvantaged communities, for example, the scheme to help people work off fines debt and the delivery of family and civil law outreach services through Migrant Resource Centres.

Review provides a comprehensive picture of services

A review of the NPA commenced in May 2012 and is expected to report in 2013. ACIL Allen Consulting (formerly Allen Consulting Group) was engaged to conduct the review, which encompassed all Commonwealth funded legal assistance programs: Legal Aid Commissions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Community Legal Centres and Family Violence Prevention Legal Centres.

Over the past year, Legal Aid NSW has participated fully in the review, providing a comprehensive picture of Legal Aid NSW services and programs and the collaborative partnerships within the NSW legal assistance sector. Legal Aid NSW reviewed and contributed to the National Legal Aid submissions on the review draft evaluation framework.

The CEO was a member of the review advisory committee.

Inquiry into civil dispute resolution

The Australian Productivity Commission has commenced an inquiry into Australia’s system of civil dispute resolution.

This 15-month inquiry will examine the costs of accessing justice services and securing legal representation, and the economic and social impact of these costs on access to and the quality of justice.

The inquiry will make recommendations on the best way to improve access to the justice system and equity of representation, including the funding of legal assistance services.

The inquiry commenced in June 2013, with the final report due September 2014. Legal Aid NSW will be participating in the inquiry.

YEAR AHEAD

Consider the findings of the NPA review.

Work with the Australian Productivity Commission in its inquiry.

Reporting against Commonwealth benchmarks

Performance indicator

Performance benchmark

Service count
2009–2010

Service count
2012–2013

Comment

Number of early intervention services delivered*

30% increase in the number of early intervention services

59,927

93,225

Between 2009–2010 and 2012–2013 there was a 55.6% increase in early intervention services

Total number of services delivered^

25% increase in the total number of services delivered

3,182,398

6,278,713

Between 2009–2010 and 2012–2013 there was a 97.3% increase in total services

Total services excluding website page views and State criminal law^*

25% increase in the total number of services delivered

1,167,735

1,524,119

Between 2009–2010 and
2012–2013 there was a 30.5% increase in total services, excluding website page views and State criminal law

* State criminal law services have been excluded from these counts because they are not early intervention in character.

^ Because of a change in the methodology for counting website page views, the 2009–2010 website page views figure has been revised downward since it was originally reported.