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Annual Report 2017 - 2018


Community Legal Centres

Legal Aid NSW administered the Community Legal Centre Program for 32 Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in New South Wales and the state peak body, Community Legal Centres NSW (CLCNSW).

CLCs provide free legal services to disadvantaged people. They are independent, non-profit organisations that are generally incorporated bodies managed by a board or management committee.

Legal Aid NSW also administers funding for Children's Court Assistance Schemes that operate at seven Children's Courts under the auspice of four CLCs.

In 2017–2018, Community Legal Centres (CLCs) continued to grow and work in partnership with Legal Aid NSW and other legal service providers to support some of the most economically and socially disadvantaged people in the community to access legal assistance.

32 CLSP-funded CLCs:
Assisted 35,791 people
Provided 40,113 advices to clients
Opened 3,855 representation services and closed 3,958 representation services
Delivered 604 CLE activities and created 179 resources
Made and received 42,108 referrals

In all, 96.65% of casework was directed to financially disadvantaged clients, exceeding the benchmark of 90%.

Funding in 2017–2018

A total of $24,208,803 was paid to CLCs through the program comprising of:

CLC funding chart

The Public Purpose Fund also provides funding directly to some CLCs.

More details about funding can be found in Appendix 5.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

New funding will assist in meeting increasing demand for services

In April 2017 the NSW Attorney General announced an increase of over $6 million in additional funding for the CLC Program over two years. This added over $3 million to the budget in 2017–2018. Additional State funding was provided on the principle that no CLC would receive less funding in 2017–2018 than in 2016–2017.

This provided many CLCs with additional funding to upgrade their infrastructure and support more personnel to deliver their services. It also provided many geographic areas of unmet need and legal demand with funding to deliver additional outreaches and services to clients in their communities.

The Commonwealth Attorney General provided funding of $3.27 million per annum for the remaining three years of the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2015–2020 (the NPA) for the provision of family law services and family violence related services. This has enabled the CLC sector to build its capacity to deliver services to people experiencing or at risk of family violence.

CLC Services review

The NSW Attorney General’s highly anticipated Review of CLC Services commenced in September 2017, and was conducted by Mr Alan Cameron AO. The aims of the review were to ensure that CLC legal assistance is directed to people most in need, to improve CLC service provision and to assist the NSW Government in settling an approach to funding allocation.

The review examined a range of issues, including:

  • The type, scope and geographic spread of CLC services that should be funded by the NSW Government;
  • The funding levels that are required to enable CLCs to deliver those services; and
  • The funding model that should be used to inform the allocation of available funding.

The NSW CLC Program has welcomed the increased funding to support CLCs work.

Family law and family violence service delivery

The introduction of defined funding provided an opportunity for Legal Aid NSW to establish a working group with recipient CLCs to consider family law and family violence service delivery, data and reporting. The working group also supported the development of service delivery strategies and targets, and identified gaps in services and unmet legal need. This collaboration has sought to increase the coordination of family law and family violence legal services by CLCs and Legal Aid NSW, and improve the integration of these services with the broader domestic and family violence service system.

Performance benchmark

CLCs continued to exceed the NPA benchmark for provision of representation services to clients who are defined as financially disadvantaged. In 2017–18, the benchmark increased from 85% of representation services to 90%. CLCs directed 96.65% of representation services to financially disadvantaged clients, exceeding the increased benchmark.

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Work with the CLC sector to implement the NSW Review of CLC services
  • Work with the CLC sector to continue to expand legal service delivery
  • Support the CLC sector to expand services into areas of identified legal need

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (WDVCAP)

Legal Aid NSW administers NSW Government funding for 29 Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs) and their peak representative body, the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW Inc. WDVCASs cover 117 NSW Local Courts. The newest WDVCAS, Castlereagh, commenced in July 2017.

WDVCASs provide information, advocacy, safety planning and referrals to women experiencing domestic violence and their children. In 2017–2018, referrals were made to services for family support and counselling, accommodation and health services, case management, legal advice on Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders and other legal issues such as family law, debt, immigration, victims’ compensation and tenancy.

A 2.2% increase in the number of clients supported from the previous financial year
A 14.5% increase in the number of service events provided from the previous financial year
11.7% of WDVCAS clients identified as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
18.5% of WDVCAS clients identified as being from culturally diverse backgrounds
7.4% of WDVCAS clients identified as having a disability

Number of women supported by WDVCASs

Number of women supported by WDVCASs chart

Funding in 2017–2018

In 2017–2018, $24,397,719 was paid in grants through the WDVCAP to incorporated, not-for-profit, non-government service providers under a funding agreement with Legal Aid NSW. These service providers host WDVCASs in 29 locations across the state.

This amount included $12,070,899 to support 43 Local Coordination Points (LCPs). LCPs are hosted by WDVCASs as part of Safer Pathway, a component of It Stops here: Standing together to End Domestic Violence, the NSW Government’s domestic and family violence framework for reform.

For further details regarding WDVCAP funding, see Appendix 4.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

More support for those impacted by domestic and family violence

In 2017–2018, WDVCASs supported 43,947 clients, a 2.2% increase from 2016–2017. Safety Action Meetings held at each Safer Pathway site provide a targeted, cross-agency response to domestic and family violence victims assessed as being at serious threat of injury or death. A total of 895 Safety Action Meetings were held during the year. Of the referrals to Safety Action Meetings in 2017–2018, 90.7% were for women, and 9.3% for men.

Clients were referred by WDVCASs to local agencies for a broad range of services, including family support and counselling, accommodation and health services, and legal advice on Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders, tenancy and child protection.

Protection for victims strategy rolled out to 16 additional locations

WDVCAP, in partnership with WDVAS’s work together to implement Safer Pathway. WDVCASs were chosen to implement the Safer Pathway strategy and host Local Coordination Points.

Safer Pathway includes a risk identification tool, and electronic management of referrals from domestic violence incidents attended by the NSW Police Force to a Central Referral Point and subsequently to Local Coordination Points (LCPs). Safer Pathway provides improved reach to victims, and Safety Action Meetings improve the safety of victims who are identified as being at serious threat of harm or death.

The WDVCAP rolled out seven new Safer Pathway sites in September 2017. These sites were Albury, Armidale, Dubbo, Illawarra, Liverpool, Penrith and Port Macquarie. A further nine sites commenced operations in March 2018 at Bathurst, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Gosford, Goulburn, Moree, Sutherland, Toronto and Walgett. The total number of Safer Pathway sites now in operation is 43, an increase of 16 from the previous year.

Using a mix of methods to support women

The WDVCAP is responsible for the social support services component of the Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS). Sydney, Parramatta, Illawarra and Hunter WDVCASs provide social support for women at the four Family Court Registries, and Relationships Australia NSW provides social support for men across the four registries.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

In November 2017, Legal Aid NSW won the 2017 Premier’s Award for reducing domestic violence reoffending, in partnership with the NSW Police Force, the Department of Justice and Women NSW. The award recognises the success of Safer Pathway, a coordinated, interagency response to victims of domestic and family violence in NSW.

The WDVCAP’s training for WDVCAS staff has been updated to address contemporary issues in domestic and family violence. Training on trauma-informed practice was delivered by the Mental Health Coordinating Council, and the Education Centre against Violence provided training on responding to disclosures of childhood sexual assault. During 2017–18, WDVCAP training was delivered to 218 WDVCAS workers.

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Completion of Safer Pathway roll-out, in partnership with the NSW Police Force and Victims Services.
  • Consider the recommendations of an independent evaluation of the WDVCAP.