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Annual Report 2016 - 2017

Community legal education

The way Legal Aid NSW does community legal education (CLE) was rethought after a review by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, and a restructured CLE Branch was created at the end of last year. The new CLE team came on board between October 2016 and April this year.

The Community Legal Education (CLE) Program provides targeted education for priority client groups and human services staff working with our priority client groups.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

Vulnerable clients learn about their rights and responsibilities

In 2016–2017, we focused on new arrivals, young people, older people and Aboriginal people.

Highlights included:

  • over 350 workshops for young people—almost 40 per cent of these were for Putting the X in sexy text—a Legal Aid NSW interactive multimedia resource, alerting young people to the risks associated with social media
  • a new resource for young people and community workers to help them identify when they may have a civil law issue
  • education programs and resources for newly arrived refugees (See Delivering services to refugees)
  • monthly education sessions at Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre on housing, fines and Centrelink issues
  • resources for adopting parents, information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and a series of Easy English booklets explaining police powers.

Timely information can prevent legal problems getting worse

Sometimes, early information can help people to resolve their legal issue before it escalates. Legal Aid NSW has a strong tradition of resourcing the community about many areas of law.

We distributed over 750,000 publications through our online ordering system, including the sixth edition of the Legal Topics for Older People Diary—once again, at almost 80,000 copies ordered, our most popular publication—followed by information about fines and domestic violence.

Our resources were viewed online almost one million times (980,729) last year.

We conducted 2,173 community legal education sessions.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

We implemented key recommendations of the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW review of CLE activities at Legal Aid NSW. A restructured CLE Branch was formed to help staff across Legal Aid NSW apply best practice principles when they plan, develop and evaluate CLE.

A new advisory committee ensured that all CLE is informed by the incoming CLE strategic framework, and that our CLE is coordinated, targeted, cost-effective and aligned with the organisation’s broader strategic direction and priorities.

OBJECTIVE Supporting our people

We established a CLE Community of Practice of 19 lawyers across the three practice divisions to start building the capacity of staff to design, develop and deliver best practice CLE.

New processes and templates will guide staff working on CLE projects.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

We established an external consultative committee of our key partners in the sector to ensure that all CLE done by Legal Aid NSW is collaborative, client-focused and coordinated with the work that other key agencies are doing.

CLE was delivered through partnerships with other legal and non-legal services:

  • Our Aboriginal Women Leaving Custody Service collaborated with the Women’s Legal Service to provide CLE on care and protection and victims support to female prisoners at Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre.
  • During Law Week our lawyers partnered with the State Library of NSW to deliver CLE in more than 30 libraries around the state on cyber safety for older people and traffic law.

The year ahead

  • Develop two flagship products that explain what Legal Aid NSW does—one for higher capability audiences and a short animated video for clients with limited English skills.
  • Build the capacity of staff to plan, deliver and evaluate CLE based on a user-centred, best practice approach.