Go to content

Annual Report 2015 - 2016

Regional partnerships

People living in regional, rural and remote areas can have difficulty accessing legal services.

Legal Aid NSW played a leadership role in supporting regional coalitions and outreach programs to improve service delivery to people disadvantaged by distance.

Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program

Fact file
70 CLSD Program projects commenced or completed
33% delivered in Aboriginal communities
80% of wills clinics held for Aboriginal communities
10 joint service clinics operating across regional and remote New South Wales
62 education sessions in 26 locations in regional and rural NSW

Legal Aid NSW manages the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program (CLSD).

The CLSD Program comprises regionally-based partnerships between legal and related non-legal services that aim to improve access to legal services for disadvantaged people in regional and remote New South Wales. CLSD Program partnerships aim to better target the needs of disadvantaged people, improve coordination of legal services and extend regional capacity through cooperation.

There are currently 12 CLSD partnerships across regional New South Wales, each with a funded Program Regional Coordinator based at a local organisation. Each CLSD Program partnership has four face to face meetings a year, and works collaboratively on projects to meet identified and emerging legal and related non-legal needs. The CLSD Program Unit based in Sydney provides administrative and strategic support to the CLSD Program partnerships across the state.

CLSD Program partnerships include representatives from Legal Aid NSW regional offices, Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Local Courts, tenancy, domestic violence, youth, disability and financial counselling agencies, local community, neighbourhood and settlement services as well as private and pro bono legal services, government departments, health services and local libraries.

CLSD and Outreach locations map CLSD Program and Regional Outreach Clinic Program locations as at 30 June 2016. The CLSD Program operates in 12 regions.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

Projects targeted barriers to justice

The CLSD partnerships operate on the premise that disadvantaged people with complex legal and non-legal needs and low legal capability require integrated services to successfully negotiate barriers to justice.

Each CLSD Program partnership determines service priorities by drawing on local data and demographics to identify local legal needs and gaps. The CLSD Program administers funding for collaborative, needs based projects. In 2015–2016, there were over 40 CLSD Program partnership meetings across the state, including three strategic planning days.

In 2015–2016, the CLSD Program partners took part in 70 projects in regional, rural and remote New South Wales. CLSD program initiatives included community legal education, development of legal resources, workshops, training and outreach advice services.

Highlight projects included:

  • 13 wills clinics (10 for Aboriginal community members)
  • ‘Ice in the Community’: community legal education sessions in Taree and Forster on the legal, health and family impacts of the drug ice co-presented by Legal Aid NSW, Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre, Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd, NSW Police Force, NSW Health, Interrelate and local Aboriginal Medical Services
  • joint service outreaches to Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett
  • Connecting Health and Justice Forum in Nowra– attended by over 200 people.

Addressing legal service gaps in Central West and Northern New South Wales

Improving services in Moree, Toomelah and Boggabilla was a major commitment. The program worked closely with Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ ACT) Ltd and other services to set up the new CLSD Program partnership in Moree.

Building strong community networks—representatives from Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Service, Fair Trading NSW, Pathfinders and Grandmothers Against Removal at the Dhiiyaan Centre in Moree in April 2016.

For the last few years, the Central West CLSD Program partnership has organised an annual Law Week joint service outreach to Bourke and Brewarrina. From 17–20 May, Legal Aid NSW joined other services, helping with birth certificate applications, wills, fines, water and electricity issues, Centrelink, discrimination and care and parenting issues.

Moree is the latest CLSD Program regional partnership, making a total of 12 CLSD Program partnerships across the state.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

Partnerships adopt a “no wrong door” approach to addressing our disadvantaged clients’ legal and related non-legal needs

Working on the understanding that our disadvantaged clients have complex legal needs that are also affected by non-legal issues, CLSD Program partners focus on providing targeted, timely, appropriate and joined-up services. The CLSD Program projects draw upon the collective resources and knowledge of legal and non-legal local services to address locally identified needs, and promote access to legal help. Where service gaps are identified, the CLSD Program helps to bring outside expertise into local communities. For example, we have worked with local migrant services who have identified exploitative employment practices in various locations including Bathurst and Albury, and brought in employment law experts from Sydney to provide training to workers and support agencies.

The CLSD Program partners with government agencies, including LawAccess NSW, the NSW Ombudsman, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing Gambling support services and Community Justice Centres, the Energy and Water Ombudsman, State Debt Recovery, the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Australian Human Rights Commission and Office of Fair Trading, to distribute information about the availability of these state-wide services in regional communities. The CLSD Program regional partnerships also collaborate with non-government agencies including financial counselling, health, tenancy, youth, disability and neighbourhood services to address the non-legal needs that exacerbate our clients’ legal issues. Agencies participating in CLSD Program partnerships adopt a “no wrong door” approach to addressing the legal and non-legal needs of our disadvantaged clients. Cross-agency referrals through CLSD partnerships are more informed and client-focused. Agencies collaborating through the CLSD partnerships have closer working relationships and know which agency is best placed to help clients with their specific needs.

Pro bono support helps deliver more services to disadvantaged communities

The CLSD Program partners with Sydney-based and local private law firms to provide pro bono legal services in regional, rural and remote New South Wales. This work takes on many forms including referrals of individual client matters to Pro bono firms in areas of law that are outside Legal Aid NSW, Community Legal Centre and Aboriginal Legal Service expertise or guidelines, community legal education on issues like legal privilege and legal issues for parents and carers of people with impaired capacity, and wills and planning ahead clinics for Aboriginal community members.

Over the past 12 months, some of our Sydney-based CLSD Program partner pro bono firms collectively provided well over $2 million in pro bono services through regional New South Wales.

Regional Outreach Clinic Program

Fact file
674 advice and minor assistance services in 9 locations
17.4% delivered in Aboriginal communities

Under the Regional Outreach Clinic Program (ROCP), Legal Aid NSW funds private and Community Legal Centre lawyers to provide legal advice and minor assistance services to communities that have little, or no, access to public legal services, and where it would not be feasible or efficient for us to provide a regular outreach services. The Program also aims to increase the uptake of grants of legal aid for representation in regional New South Wales.

The work of the ROCP is guided by a steering committee that scopes and decides ROCP locations.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

Reviews make sure we provide services to areas that need them the most

ROCP services are continuously reviewed and realigned to complement the inhouse outreach activity. As at June 2016, ROCP clinics were operating in Bathurst, Bega, Gloucester, Lightning Ridge, West and South Kempsey, Moree and Tenterfield.

ROCP clinics operate from host agencies that include local neighbourhood centres, Local Courts, public libraries and family support services. In some cases the ROCP lawyers participate in a joint-service roster, to provide a more frequent service at the one location. This has been the case in Kempsey, Gloucester and Bathurst where ROCP lawyers work alongside other Legal Aid NSW, Community Legal Centre and pro bono outreach lawyers.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in service delivery

Providing flexible services

An objective of the ROCP is that its services are part of a flexible suite of Legal Aid NSW services. ROCP lawyers are expected to provide high quality legal advice in areas of law usually delivered by inhouse lawyers. ROCP lawyers attend annual training sessions on new and emerging areas of law provided by our inhouse experts, and are briefed on new policy and practice developments. All ROCP lawyers are also invited to attend Legal Aid NSW conferences.

Icon for The year aheadThe year ahead

  • Expand and support an increase in pro bono partnerships through the CLSD Program.
  • Provide support to the new CLSD Program partnership in Moree, Boggabilla and Toomelah, in partnership with the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd.
  • Pursue systemic issues through partnerships and collaborations under the New South Wales Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF).
  • Explore new ways to engage and employ ROCP lawyers to complement inhouse service delivery when inhouse capacity is limited.
  • Scope and establish new ROCP clinics in Goulburn and Tweed Heads.
  • Re-establish ROCP services in Toomelah and Boggabilla and reconfigure ROCP services on the Mid North Coast to new “gap” locations of Laurieton and South West Rocks.