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Annual Report 2013 - 2014

Training and resourcing our partners

We provide our partners with training opportunities and in return, they bring invaluable expertise to our conferences and seminars.

OBJECTIVE: Excellence in legal services

New web resources for client representation

Grants staff worked with family law staff and Information Technology Services to develop a website for private lawyers on legal aid panels. It includes resources such as precedent documents, to assist them in representing their clients. The first set of resources is for independent children’s lawyers and will be launched early in 2014–2015. Following evaluation, we plan to develop resources for other panels.

Well prepared for the new Bail Act

Legal Aid NSW conducted face-to-face training to prepare lawyers for the Bail Act 2013 at 21 locations across the State between March and May 2014. More than 600 people participated in the comprehensive and interactive training sessions on the new Act, which commenced on 20 May 2014.

Bail training was one of the main reasons the number of private lawyers attending Legal Aid NSW training increased significantly. See table in Measuring performance.

We also updated community resources to reflect the new law. A new bail brochure was developed and distributed to all Legal Aid NSW offices and court houses in New South Wales and new distribution channels were developed with Juvenile Justice, Corrective Services, the Police, and Department of Justice.

"Training programs improved the skills of lawyers representing young people in the family court system."

Improving child representation

The family law practice undertook comprehensive training aimed at improving the participation of young people engaged in the family law system and the standards of legal representation. This included:

  • intensive advocacy and social science training for Independent Children’s Lawyers in Sydney, Parramatta and Wollongong attended by more than 90 lawyers;
  • a child representation conference titled Lifting the Bar – Best Practice When Representing Children and Why It Matters held in Newcastle and attended by more than 170 people;
  • a review of the application process and practice standards for independent children’s lawyers led to revised practice standards and changes to selection criteria;
  • in conjunction with the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, revision of the national training program for new Independent Children’s Lawyers; and
  • designing a range of resources aimed at children, parents and lawyers.

Other training

Six training sessions, in Sydney and regional locations, were attended by 230 private lawyers.

Training targeted policy issues, use of Grants Online, best practice to assist efficient processing of applications and extensions, and obtaining grants for clients with exceptional circumstances due to disability.

Five Aboriginal Cultural Competency workshops were held for approximately 100 private lawyers in both Sydney and regional locations. All Sydney workshops were held on Sundays in line with the preference expressed by local lawyers. An additional three sessions were held for our family dispute resolution practitioners.

We delivered a new workshop on the criminal justice system to frontline workers around New South Wales. A course on police powers was developed for presentation to the same target group in 2014–2015.

Domestic and Family Violence: Recognising and Responding to Clients training was offered to private lawyers and other professionals working with domestic violence issues in Nowra, Coffs Harbour, Central Sydney and Parramatta. Seven sessions attracted 116 participants. It is the first time this half-day training program has been offered to external participants.

The year ahead

Monitor upcoming amendments to the Bail Act 2013 and provide further training.

Present workshops on police powers to frontline workers.

Present more workshops on Grants processes and policies for private lawyers.

Develop online resources for private lawyers on the use of Grants Online.

Develop online resources for panel lawyers for additional panels.

Key challenge

Streamline panel processes and freeing up resources for increased audit.