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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Meeting the needs of diverse clients

Many of our services are targeted to the most disadvantaged people in our community.

Fact file
Proportion of case grants and in-house duty services to clients born in non-English speaking countries: 12.1%
Amount spent on interpreters and translators: $42,356
Number of culturally diverse family dispute resolution practitioners on our panels: 21
Proportion of staff in our Refugee Service from culturally diverse backgrounds: 100%

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

Delivering services to refugee communities on the settlement journey

Last year, the State Government allocated funding to Legal Aid NSW to help refugees, especially additional arrivals from Syria, settle in Australia.

This year was the first full year of operation for our Refugee Service. The Service, which includes three civil lawyers, a family lawyer, a community engagement officer and legal support officer, provides legal services to newly arrived refugees, and aims to provide a holistic service through its multilingual staff.

This Service is based at the Bankstown office and operates advice clinics at SydWest Multicultural Services, Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, CORE Multicultural Communities and Auburn Diversity Services.

Clients of the Service present with a range of legal problems including tenancy, Centrelink, fines, employment, driving and immigration.

In 2017/2018, the Refugee Service improved access to legal assistance for refugee clients who had settled in regional NSW by providing immigration focused community legal education and advice clinics in Wollongong, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury as well as a twice monthly immigration phone advice clinic specifically for refugees living in the regions. This year the Refugee Service provided 144 civil law advice services and 19 civil minor assistance services to refugee clients living in regional NSW.

The top 10 countries of birth of refugee clients living in regional NSW were Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Burma, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, India and Sudan.

Education programs for diverse client groups

Many of our services are targeted to the most disadvantaged people in our community. We delivered 982 face-to-face community legal education workshops for multicultural clients, 531 for young people aged 10–17 years, 204 for older people, and 835 for people in rural and regional areas of New South Wales. Sessions specifically tailored to the legal needs of diverse clients included education for:

  • elderly clients about protecting themselves from financial abuse
  • new arrivals about workplace rights and Australian law
  • young people who are recent arrivals about criminal law.

Legal Aid NSW publishes legal education resources in 28 languages.

Community legal education for new arrivals

We developed a package of community legal education resources called My rights at work about employment rights for people who arrived in Australia less than five years ago. We delivered it to 179 people through 10 services that work with new arrivals, including TAFE Adult Migrant English Programs, Navitas, and Settlement Services International.

We also delivered our Let’s Talk workshops to 316 people about Australian law for refugees, asylum seekers, and newly arrived migrants.

We teamed up with Diversity Services–NSW Department of Justice and the Refugee Service to provide eight sessions to 105 recently arrived young people settling in and around Fairfield at Fairfield High School’s Intensive English Centre. This collaborative program ensures that young people get access to timely information about the criminal justice system in NSW, police powers and appropriate services when they need help.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

Community legal education on elder abuse—Piano Forte

This community legal education project is a film of the performance of the play Piano Forte, which highlights the subtle way elder abuse can occur and explores the role and responsibilities of a person appointed under an Enduring Power of Attorney. It was developed by Suncoast CLC, who permitted us to adapt it for NSW audiences. We delivered the sessions in 17 locations to 336 older people across NSW, in partnership with the Seniors Rights Service, the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit and local community legal centres and local libraries.

calendar iconThe year ahead

The Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2018–2019 outlines some key objectives for the next year to ensure we have services that recognise and respond to the legal and support needs of diverse clients. These objectives include:

  • report a greater proportion of Legal Aid NSW casework services to meet the personal and cultural needs of ongoing clients in the 2019 Client Satisfaction Survey
  • improve access to justice for diverse groups through legal services and
  • enhance services for clients with a disability.