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Annual Report 2013 - 2014

Measuring performance

Indicators and targets help improve services to clients

Legal Aid NSW regularly monitors our performance against a range of KPIs and service delivery targets. This helps us to improve our services to clients.

Legal Aid NSW has performed well against our KPIs and service delivery targets in 2013-2014.

There were increases in information and advice and minor assistance services, community legal education and family dispute resolution conferences. Our average waiting time for advice appointments decreased.

The number of lawyers with specialist accreditation and attendance at training increased, with a significant increase in the number of private lawyers attending Legal Aid NSW training sessions.

We exceeded the majority of our service delivery targets, with the exception of duty services.

Unfortunately, grants of legal aid continue to become less accessible, with the means test income limit now being 51.1% of the national minimum weekly wage. In recognition of this, the Board approved an increase to the means test threshold, which will come into effect in August 2014.

Key performance indicators 2011–2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
Community awareness of legal rights and responsibilities
Client satisfaction rating

N/A^

91.5%

N/A^

Average waiting time for advice appointments

0.84 weeks

0.96 weeks

0.77 weeks

Number of information services provided

609,299

633,743

654,958

Rate per 100,000 of NSW population accessing information services

8,367

8,608

8,740

Number of advice and minor assistance services provided

111,347

128,719

140,729

Rate per 100,000 of NSW population accessing advice and minor assistance services

1,529

1,748

1,878

Number of publications distributed

678,103

731,526

712,395

Rate per 100,000 of people accessing publications

9,312

9,936

9,507

Accessibility of legal aid
Means test income limit as a % of national minimum weekly wage

54.0%

52.4%

51.1%

Percentage of Local Court sittings serviced by duty solicitor schemes

100%

100%

100%

Representation service standards
Percentage of satisfactory comprehensive inhouse file reviews

97.7%

98.3%

96.8%

Number of Legal Aid NSW lawyers with specialist accreditation

71

67

76

Number of Legal Aid NSW lawyer attendances at training sessions

2,471

2,242

3,306*

Number of private lawyer attendances at Legal Aid NSW training sessions

878

527

1,313*

^ Surveys are conducted in alternate years. Next survey to be conducted during 2014–2015.
* This increase is largely due to training in the Bail Act 2013.

Service delivery targets 2012–13
performance
2013–14
target

2013–14
performance

2014–15
target
Legal advice services

92,854

93,000

98,939

99,000

Information services

633,743

634,000

654,958

655,000

Inhouse and assigned duty services

172,188

173,000

171,765

173,000

Conferences–family dispute resolution*

2,665

2,700

2,726

2,750

Community legal education sessions

2,515

2,600

3,160

3,200

Outreach advice services**

12,781

13,000

15,558

15,800

Locations with regular outreach

164

164

194

200

Locations with regular outreach for Aboriginal communities

21

21

31

31

*State care and protection conferences are included in this count for 2013–2014, as well as Commonwealth family dispute resolution conferences.
**This does not include minor assistance services.

Reporting against the National Partnership Agreement

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

The period of the current NPA is 2010 to 2014. The Commonwealth has extended the NPA for another year.

The NPA has prescribed a number of performance indicators and related performance benchmarks, and the service types that can be reported against these indicators. Reporting against some indicators is restricted to Commonwealth services only, e.g. duty services, dispute resolution services, and grants of aid. Other reporting includes both Commonwealth and State services, e.g. early intervention services, the number of successful legal aid service outcomes delivered and total services.

Not all performance indicators can be reported against benchmarks due to the data recording practices prior to the benchmark year, for example, Commonwealth dispute resolution and post resolution services.

Preventative services which include service types such as publications and website page views, are not identified as separate performance indicators. However, their volumes are included under total services.

OBJECTIVE: Excellence in legal services

Legal Aid NSW has performed strongly under the NPA in 2013–2014 against a range of benchmarks.

  • The Commonwealth benchmark of a 25% increase in total services has been exceeded, with a percentage change for total services from the 2009–2010 baseline year of 32%. This figure excludes website page views and State criminal law. If website page views and State criminal law are not excluded, the percentage change for total services is 90.6%.
  • Early intervention services (excluding State criminal law) recorded an increase of 80.6%, well in excess of the Commonwealth benchmark of 30%.
  • Duty lawyer services recorded a 17% increase from the baseline year against a benchmark of 10% variance from the baseline.

The NPA has identified client satisfaction feedback as a performance benchmark. The 2013 Legal Aid NSW biennial client satisfaction survey found a high level of satisfaction with legal aid advice and minor assistance services with an overall client satisfaction rate of 91.5%, compared with a satisfaction rate of 89.5% in 2011.

Majority of benchmarks achieved

A Review of the National Partnership on Legal Assistance Services (NPA Review) has given Legal Aid NSW a good picture of what it is doing well and what it could do better.

The review commenced in May 2012. 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 Services.

Legal Aid NSW has been an active participant in this review, providing a comprehensive picture of Legal Aid NSW services and the collaborative arrangements within the New South Wales legal assistance sector. Legal Aid NSW also provided extensive feedback on the review's evaluation framework.

Reporting against Commonwealth benchmarks*

Performance indicator Performance benchmark Service count 2009–2010 Service count 2013–2014 Percentage increase between 2009–2010 and 2013–2014
Number of early intervention services delivered 30% increase in the number of early intervention services

59,927

108,237

80.6

Number of duty services (Commonwealth only) 10% variance from baseline services delivered in 2009-2010

7,127

8,336

17

Total number of services delivered 25% increase in the total number of services delivered

3,182,398

6,064,207

90.6

Total services excluding website page views and State criminal law** 25% increase in the total number of services delivered

1,167,735

1,541,903

32
(excluding website page views and State criminal law)

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

The review found that Legal Aid NSW had performed strongly against the NPA benchmarks and indicators, achieving the majority of (quantifiable) benchmarks.

It also found that Legal Aid NSW has comprehensive organisational processes and practices to support quality, efficiency and cost-effective services.

The review also noted that Legal Aid NSW had a 'number of promising initiatives that focus on early resolution of legal problems and improved targeting of legal assistance'.

The review stated that there is a significant level of unmet legal need and that this need cannot be addressed at the current funding levels.

Review reports and working papers are available on the ACIL Allen Consulting website.

Helping to shape the future legal assistance landscape

The Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry into Access to Justice Arrangements commenced in June 2013. The 15-month inquiry into Australia’s civil dispute resolution system 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. For the purposes of the inquiry the civil justice system encompasses family law.

Legal Aid NSW has participated fully in this important inquiry—making submissions, attending round tables, hosting visits and appearing before public hearings. We appreciate the extensive inquiry and analysis undertaken by the Productivity Commission into legal need and access to justice arrangements, and the opportunity to contribute to a report which potentially may shape the future legal assistance landscape.

The Productivity Commission has extensively referenced Legal Aid NSW throughout the Draft Report, using the Legal Aid NSW 'Law for everyday life' problem solving approach as a case study. This approach focuses on areas that have the most impact on people’s lives, including tenancy and housing issues, debt and social security.

While noting the gaps in legal assistance for civil matters, the Productivity Commission highlights Legal Aid NSW as 'providing leading practice with its civil law divisions and services'.

The final report is due in September 2014.

The year ahead

Respond to the findings of the NPA review and the Productivity Commission's report.

Collaborate with the Department of Justice to negotiate a new funding arrangement with the Commonwealth.

Key challenge

Responding to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission by investigating new methods to measure the outcomes achieved by Legal Aid NSW.