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Annual Report 2014 - 2015

Meeting the needs of diverse clients

Legal Aid NSW continues to work towards being an inclusive organisation, and providing responsive services to diverse people and communities in New South Wales.

The Diversity Action Plan 2014-2015 included a wide range of actions in relation to our diversity target groups. These include people from multicultural backgrounds, people with disability, younger people, older people, women, gender and sexuality diverse people, and people living in rural and regional areas.

Fact file
Case grants and inhouse duty services to clients born in non- English speaking countries 12.70%
Amount spent on interpreters and translators $1,031,872.00

Diversity Action Plan

A summary of key performance highlights from the Diversity Action Plan appears in Appendix 9.

Major achievements

OBJECTIVE: Access to justice

Clients received services tailored to their needs

We made wide use of interpreters and translators, both face-to-face and over the telephone, for client interviews and community legal education sessions. We spent $1,031,872 on these services. We also contributed $51,742 to the cost of interpreters in Community Legal Centres.

We provided 443 face-to-face community legal education workshops for young people, 69 for older people, and 734 for people in rural and regional areas of New South Wales.

We continued providing immigration law clinics in accordance with the agreement with Settlement Services International at Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, SydWest Blacktown, Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre, Auburn Diversity Services and Bankstown Legal Aid NSW office.

In 2014-2015, the following services were provided at these clinics:

Legal advice services 1,080
Minor assistance services 477

Publications in other languages

We published new information about our immigration services in Arabic, Dari/Farsi and Burmese. Resources about Centrelink, visa cancellation, and Disability Support Pension and overseas travel were translated into Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Serbian and Vietnamese. New resources about changes to bail, new drink-driving laws, and driving while disqualified were translated into Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Accessible information for the Deaf community

A new video on the Legal Aid NSW website in Auslan sign language explains what people can do if they are going through separation and divorce. It is the fifth in a series of videos in Auslan providing information about Legal Aid NSW services as well as common legal issues.

This resource is also available on the Legal Aid NSW YouTube channel.

OBJECTIVE: Excellence in legal services

Highlights included:

  • delivering 25 webinar sessions on 12 topics about Legal Aid NSW services to community workers in rural and remote areas;
  • translating the Code of Behaviour Security Card into 10 languages, explaining that safety is our priority and requesting communities to work with us to maintain safety;
  • investigating and identifying an alternative online option for people with restricted access to inhouse and private lawyers, to apply for a grant of aid; and
  • providing specialised training to staff to assist them to provide appropriate services to clients with disability (see Workforce diversity and equity).

Case study

Severely disabled client has a say in tribunal decision

A young man became a quadriplegic as a result of severe injuries sustained in an industrial accident. He received compensation and the Public Trustee and Guardian was appointed to make decisions about his care, together with his separated parents.

As living arrangements with his father had broken down, the Guardian placed him in residential care, against his parents' wishes. His mother proposed that he move to the United States to live with her and her new husband. The father disagreed.

The dispute escalated to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Legal Aid NSW funded a separate representative to represent the interests of the young man, ensuring that he had a meaningful voice in the proceedings.

The Tribunal determined that the young man should remain in Australia and be housed in the community with both parents having a significant role in his care.

OBJECTIVE: Strong partnerships

We provided staff and resources to support the Deaf Jurors project conducted by the University of New South Wales. The project investigated the participation in the administration of justice by deaf citizens as jurors and the impact of having a sign language interpreter in the jury room.

We delivered 12 community legal education sessions to health practitioners to expand the number of Work and Development Order sponsors for clients with mental health issues.

The year ahead

Develop an online legal aid application form to improve accessibility to legal aid.

Implement the Diversity Action Plan 2015-2016.