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Annual Report 2016 - 2017

How our key services tracked over the last five years

Five-year comparisons show that most of our services have increased over this period. See below for an explanation of these services.

We provide services to disadvantaged people including vulnerable clients with complex needs and those who are financially disadvantaged. The volume of our services shows the volume of work undertaken, but is not indicative of the degree of complexity of this work.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

Total client services

The overall volume of services has decreased over the last five years. This is primarily due to the decrease in the number of information services which are large volume, non-complex services whose numbers are subject to volatility. Changes to the way in which telephone calls from prisoners are recorded have increased our efficiency but resulted in lower volumes of information services being recorded. Information is increasingly accessed online, via our website which is not captured in these figures.

Duty services

The high number of duty services provided in 2015–2016 was unique to that year and inconsistent with volumes over the five-year period. While the large increase in 2015–2016 was not matched in 2016–2017, total duty services were still well above average for the five-year period. Duty services have shown an overall upward trend, increasing by approximately 11 per cent from 2012-2013.

Legal advice and outreach advice services

There has been an increase of 15 per cent in legal advice services since 2012-2013 and an increase of 2.1 per cent from last financial year. The overall increase reflects a focus on services to disadvantaged communities which is also demonstrated in outreach advice data. The highest number of outreach services was recorded in 2016–2017, an increase of 2.3 per cent from the previous year and an overall increase of approximately 42 per cent over the last five years. Outreach advice is provided by mobile lawyers in a range of settings outside Legal Aid NSW offices.

Minor assistance

The number of minor assistance services decreased in 2016-2017 and overall volumes are now slightly lower than they were in 2012-2013.The effect of changes in recording practices to align with the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2015-2020, continues to be felt and is reflected in decreasing service volumes. This reflects changes in administrative practice rather than in service provision.

Family law mediation conferences

Demand for these services has a seen a steady increase in family mediation conferences since 2012-2013, with the number of conferences held increasing by over five percent during the last five years These conferences help in the early resolution of disputes allowing a negotiated settlement between parties without the need to go to court.

Community legal education

The number of community legal education (CLE) sessions has declined again this year, by approximately three per cent since 2015–2016 and by over 13 per cent during the last five years. The availability of alternate modes of delivery and improved access to education materials via the website have resulted in fewer face-to-face sessions. A new CLE Branch and strategic framework implemented in 2016–2017 will enhance CLE services provided by Legal Aid NSW.

Aboriginal clients—percentage of services

The proportion of total case and in-house duty services provided to Aboriginal clients increased from 10.3 per cent to 12.8 per cent over the last five years, reflecting concerted efforts to provide access to justice to Aboriginal people who are highly disadvantaged in the justice system and also experience significant socio-economic disadvantage. See Increasing our services.