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Annual Report 2016 - 2017

Measuring performance

Progress towards better measurement of performance

Legal Aid NSW has implemented a range of initiatives to monitor and review its performance to improve the quality of planning and service delivery.

This year we changed our long-standing approach to measuring client satisfaction with legal advice and minor assistance services. Instead for the first time we surveyed clients1 who received a grant of aid, as casework is the most complex of our services, involves substantial resources and has the greatest impact on the lives of our clients. We are pleased to report a satisfaction rating of 87 per cent. See New approach—surveying casework clients .

We substantially completed work on a monitoring and evaluation framework to embed a culture of evaluation throughout the organisation, to help staff demonstrate and assess the impact of our work to our clients, the community and the justice sector.

We again exceeded the performance benchmark in the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2015-2020 that requires 95 per cent or more of representation services to be delivered to people experiencing financial disadvantage, achieving 98.9 per cent. See Selected NPA performance indicators.

In 2017–2018, we will develop new key performance indicators for our criminal, family and civil law practices and for the Grants Division which determines applications for legal aid from private lawyers and the in-house practice.

1 We did not survey clients who were under 16 years of age, in custody or in mental health facilities.

Key performance indicators2014–152015–162016–17
Community awareness of legal rights and responsibilities
Client satisfaction rating 87.0% N/A* 87.0%
Average waiting time (weeks) for advice appointments 0.87 0.87 0.89
Number of information services provided 564,958 528,798 517,888
Rate per 100,000 of NSW population accessing information services 7,441 6,873 6,644
Number of advice and minor assistance services provided 150,396 147,419 141,000**
Rate per 100,000 of NSW population accessing advice and minor assistance services 1,981 1,916 1,809
Number of publications distributed 707,409 729,120 752,270
Rate per 100,000 of people accessing publications 9,317 9,477 9,651
Accessibility of legal aid
Means test income limit as a % of national minimum weekly wage 60.1% 60.9% 59.5%
Percentage of Local Court sittings serviced by duty solicitor schemes 100% 100% 100%
Representation service standards
Percentage of satisfactory comprehensive in-house file reviews 97.1% 98.0% 99.4%
Number of Legal Aid NSW lawyers with specialist accreditation 63 79 77
Number of Legal Aid NSW lawyer attendances at training sessions 3,118 2,783 2,781
Number of private lawyer attendances at Legal Aid NSW training sessions 882 700 511***

* N/A–surveys conducted every 2 years
** See the explanation for this reduction in Total client services.
*** The annual criminal law conference was not held in this reporting period.

Service delivery targets

2015–2016 performance 2016–2017 targets 2016–2017 performance
Legal advice services 104,547 105,000 106,747
Information services 528,798 530,000 517,888
In-house and assigned duty services 196,004 196,500 191,501
Conferences - family dispute resolution 2,796 2,800 2,801
Community legal education sessions 2,243 2,300 2,173
Outreach advice services 17,771 17,800 18,185
Locations with regular outreach 248 260 221
Locations with regular outreach for Aboriginal communities 45 48 48

A key benchmark under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2015-2020 is the provision of representation services to financially disadvantaged people (see below). This important benchmark will replace the service delivery targets set in previous years.

Legal Aid NSW will continue to provide legal practice operational statistics (see Appendix 6); however, as it does not control demand for most of its services, targets for these services will no longer be set.

Reporting against the National Partnership Agreement

Commonwealth funding to Legal Aid NSW is governed by the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2018–2020 (NPA).

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

The National Partnership Agreement (NPA) provides funding to Legal Aid Commissions and Community Legal Centres to improve access to justice for disadvantaged people, in a more integrated, efficient and effective manner. This is the second year of reporting against the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2015-2020.

Legal Aid NSW reports against a number of performance indicators every six months. We also co-ordinate reporting on behalf of the state for services delivered by Community Legal Centres.

We report the number of legal assistance services for service types and law types, facilitated resolution processes and their outcomes, and the number and proportion of representation services to priority clients. Of all the Commonwealth representation services to priority groups, the highest number and proportion was to people experiencing financial disadvantage, namely, 10,199 or 98.9 per cent.

In 2016–2017, NPA milestones included conducting and providing a summary of a client satisfaction survey (see New approach—surveying casework clients), collaborative service planning, and a sector case study (see Achieving better health and legal outcomes). In June 2017, the Commonwealth amended the NPA to provide for additional, defined funding to Community Legal Centres for family law services and family violence related services from 2017–2018.

"We exceeded the benchmark for representation services."

Selected NPA performance indicators and benchmarks
Performance indicatorPercentageBenchmark
Proportion of representation services to people experiencing financial disadvantage 98.9% 95% or more
Proportion of facilitated resolution conferences held by Legal Aid NSW resulting in either partial or full settlement 80.5% * N/A

* This is the percentage of Commonwealth conferences only. The combined total for State and Commonwealth conferences was 80.7 per cent.

The year ahead

  • Provide supporting evidence to the Commonwealth on the funding distribution to community legal centres, and conduct collaborative service planning with the legal assistance sector.