Go to content

Annual Report 2014 - 2015

What we did over the past year

The issues our clients deal with vary only slightly over time - debt, domestic violence, homelessness, family disputes or lack of access to government benefits. What is changing is our approach to how we provide legal assistance.

Our new direction as problem solving lawyers, who are very much part of joint service delivery, recognises that clients often have complex and interrelated legal and non-legal issues and face significant barriers in accessing legal assistance.

By changing the way we work and introducing flexible programs, we are now able to assist severely disadvantaged people to solve multiple problems at a much earlier stage.

An emphasis on client-centred and integrated services saw more lawyers working from outreach locations, including tribunals and partner agencies such as health and immigration centres. The number of outreach locations grew to 210 this year, taking lawyers into the heart of some very isolated regional and rural communities.

As a result, clients' multiple issues were better addressed, and early intervention and detection helped prevent problems from escalating.

Several external evaluations this year clearly demonstrated that this strategy is working. We are seeing more clients who would otherwise take no action to see a lawyer or try to resolve their issues outside the formal justice system.

We were guided by our Legal Aid NSW Plan 2014-2015, which although broad in scope, emphasised better access to justice for Aboriginal people and young people. The plan's objectives were achieved with most actions completed. We also developed a new plan for 2015-2016.

In a year of considerable government reform, we played a central coordination role in two areas: domestic violence, and the care and protection of children. Our leadership role was consultative and collaborative in order to achieve the best results for the community.

Many of our achievements were aligned with priorities set out in the State Plan NSW 2021. We participated extensively in the Productivity Commission Inquiry on Legal Assistance Services and were positively referenced in the final report.

All this was achieved within a difficult financial climate. We successfully met required budget savings, without compromising principles of equity in our pursuit of access to justice.

We closed the year by negotiating a new five-year National Partnership Agreement with the Commonwealth Government.

Financial management

Our net financial result was a deficit of $4.4 million.

Financial summary

2013-2014 ($M) 2014-2015 ($M) Change (%)
Operating Revenue 247.7 253.4 2.3
Operating Expenses 243.9 257.4 5.5
Total Assets 106.3 105.7 (0.6)
Total Liabilities 74.3 82 10.2
Surplus/(Deficit) 3.5 (4.4) (225.7)
Net Equity 32 23.8 (25.6)

Client services 5 year trend chart

*The introduction of new protocols to streamline the volume of telephone calls from prisoners has contributed to the decrease in the volume of calls and consequently, to information services (see Streamlining access to legal services for prisoners).