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Annual Report 2015 - 2016

Overview

Legal Aid NSW is an independent statutory body, established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979, reporting to the NSW Attorney General, the Hon Gabrielle Upton MP.

We are the largest legal aid agency in Australia. Our role is to deliver and coordinate legal aid services.

A Board of 10 members determines our policies and priorities. Board members are appointed by the New South Wales Attorney General for a period of up to three years.

In this report we refer to ourselves as Legal Aid NSW.

Every week our lawyers go out to meet clients where they are needed, covering 248 outreach locations. Every week our lawyers go out to meet clients where they are needed, covering 248 outreach locations.

What we do

We provide legal services across New South Wales, through a statewide network of 24 offices and 248 regular outreach locations, with a particular focus on assisting socially and economically disadvantaged people.

We assist with legal problems through a comprehensive suite of services across criminal, family and civil law.

Our services range from high volume legal information, education, advice, minor assistance, dispute resolution and duty services, through to an extensive litigation practice.

We deliver a high volume of community legal education and advice services that are not means tested. More intensive assistance, such as casework and legal representation, is means tested and sometimes merit tested.

We work in partnership with private lawyers who receive funding from Legal Aid NSW to represent legally aided clients.

We also work in close partnership with LawAccess NSW, Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited and pro bono legal services.

We also work closely with other agencies that provide social and support services to disadvantaged and marginalised people, helping us achieve more integrated services that address clients’ legal and non-legal needs.

Our values

We are committed to the NSW public service values:

  • integrity
  • trust
  • service
  • accountability.

These values are reflected in our Code of Conduct and govern the way we do our business.

Our objectives

Our main objective is to improve access to justice for the most disadvantaged people in our society, responding to their legal and non-legal needs. We aim to provide legal assistance that can help people break the cycle of disadvantage. To do this, we draw on the skills and dedication of our highly experienced employees and work alongside a growing network of stakeholder partners to deliver joint services.

About this report

This annual report reviews and reports on our activities and performance, including what we set out to do in our Legal Aid NSW Plan 2015–2016. It is structured around the four key objectives of the plan:

  • To promote access to justice through early intervention and better targeting of legal assistance to disadvantaged people.
  • To pursue excellence, innovation and efficiency in legal service delivery.
  • To support and develop our people; and improve our systems to meet organisational goals.
  • To build strong, effective service partnerships to respond to the legal and non-legal needs of our clients.

Achievements in this report are aligned with focus areas from the plan such as service expansion in regional and remote areas, early intervention strategies, better data collection and stronger partnerships so we can better respond to clients’ changing legal needs.

This report incorporates all operational activities of our organisation, including joint initiatives. It reflects our commitment to effective corporate governance through openness and accountability. It provides an account of our revenue and how we have used public funds.

The report also looks to the year ahead and comments on the challenges facing Legal Aid NSW.

Last year’s annual report received a Gold Award from the Australasian Reporting Awards— our ninth Gold Award.

This is our 37th annual report. This, and some earlier annual reports, are available on the Legal Aid NSW website in PDF format and easy-to-navigate HTML format. They can be found in the Publications section of www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

In accordance with Public Service Commission directions, Legal Aid NSW no longer produces printed copies of its annual report.