Go to content

Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Regional partnerships

People living in regional, rural and remote areas can have difficulty accessing legal services.

Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program

This year, the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery (CLSD) Program and the Regional Outreach Clinic Program (ROCP) have been re-badged under a new Unit– the Collaborative Legal Service Delivery Unit. The new Unit reflects the expanding role that the CLSD and ROCP Programs will play in collaborative planning with our justice sector partners.

Fact file
72 CLSD Program projects commenced or completed
Around 44 % of the projects were delivered with Aboriginal communities
13 wills clinics delivered with our pro bono partners in Aboriginal communities across regional and remote NSW

The CLSD Program supports regional partnerships between legal and related non-legal services to improve access to legal services for disadvantaged people. CLSD Program partnerships aim to target the needs of disadvantaged people, improve coordination of legal services and extend regional capacity through cooperation.

There are currently 12 CLSD Program partnerships across regional and remote NSW, each with a funded CLSD Program Regional Coordinator based at a local organisation. Each CLSD Program partnership meets face to face four times a year, and works collaboratively on projects to meet identified and emerging legal and related non-legal needs. The CLSD Program Unit based in Sydney provides administrative and strategic support to the CLSD Program regional justice partnerships across NSW.

CLSD Program partnerships typically include representatives from Legal Aid NSW regional offices, Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd, LawAccess NSW, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Local Courts, tenancy, domestic violence, youth, disability and financial counselling agencies, local community, neighbourhood and migrant support services as well as private and pro bono legal services and representatives from local government agencies, health services and Legal Information and Access Centre libraries.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

In 2017–2018 the CLSD Program supported over 70 projects and initiatives including:

  • weekly traffic clinics at Broken Hill, Wyong and Toronto Local Courts
  • coordinated multi-service advice and minor assistance clinics in Corowa, Finley, Deniliquin, Bathurst, Cowra and Wilcannia
  • joint legal and non-legal service outreach days in Wellington, Dubbo, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Moree, Mungindi, Bourke and Brewarrina with our justice sector partners including CLCs, the Aboriginal Legal Service, crime and family law solicitors from our regional offices, pro bono law firms, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Revenue NSW, the Tenancy Support and Education Project, the Anti-Discrimination Board and the Energy and Water Ombudsman
  • 10 wills clinics for Aboriginal communities in Wellington, Dubbo, Walgett, Bourke, Brewarrina, Albury, Wyong, Bathurst, Orange and Bodalla conducted with our pro bono partners Gilbert + Tobin, Ashurst, Sparke Helmore, Tress Cox (now HWLE), Hall and Wilcox and Curwoods
  • Planning ahead CLE and wills clinics for the Bhutanese community in Albury (90 people assisted) with local Regional Law Societies

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

In 2017–18, there were 44 CLSD Program regional justice partnership meetings across NSW, including eight (8) collaborative service strategic planning days.

CLSD Program partners engaged in over 60 joint service projects in regional, rural and remote NSW.

CLSD locations and ROCP locations

Map of CLSD and ROCP locations

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

CLSD Program projects draw upon the collective resources and know-how of local services, both legal and non-legal, to address locally identified needs, and promote access to legal assistance and information about legal rights and services.

The CLSD Program hosts speakers and consultations on statewide initiatives from specialist CLCs and agencies interested in expanding their reach into regional and remote NSW including the Anti-Discrimination Board, LawAccess NSW and No to Violence.

The CLSD Program participates in various cross-sector committees including the NSW Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF) and NLAF working groups to address systemic justice and policy issues identified through the CLSD Program partnerships.

Case studies iconCase study

Albury Bhutanese community members make Wills

Albury-Wodonga is home to a sizeable population of refugees and humanitarian settlers from Bhutan. Our CLSD Program partner Frank Johnson, the local Multicultural Settlement Officer from the Albury-Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau (AWVRB) had told CLSD Program partners that there was a low understanding of wills, and the benefits of planning ahead. Frank could see there would be issues arising, and the common practice of shared purchasing of houses was just one scenario that would create a legal minefield in years to come, when owners pass away.

In October 2017 our local CLSD Program Regional Coordination Service, the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service and firms within the Albury and District Regional Law Society and the North East Law Association joined Frank to run a Community Legal Education session (CLE) on wills, powers of attorney and appointment of enduring guardianship documents to Bhutanese community members. Around 90 people attended the CLE which was followed up by a pro bono reduced fee wills clinic the next week. We assisted 48 clients on the day with a further 18 to be finalised.

The response to the CLE was overwhelmingly positive, and the willingness of local private legal firms to be involved allowed the firms to promote their services in the community. It was also an opportunity to work in a new environment with interpreters. With such a positive take-up and enthusiasm from the community, the AWVRB expects this to be an accepted practice by people in the area who now consider Australia home.

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Participate in collaborative service planning work under the National Partnership Agreement with our partners, including the ALS and CLCs.
  • Work with Victoria Legal Aid on expanding the Albury CLSD Program partnership over the border into Victoria.

Regional Outreach Clinic Program

Fact file
511 advice and minor assistance services in 13 locations
Approximately 70% of people receiving ROCP assistance are Centrelink recipients
Approximately 13% of ROCP services are delivered to Aboriginal people

Under the ROCP, Legal Aid NSW funds private and CLC lawyers to provide advice and minor assistance services to communities that have little, or no, access to public legal services, and where it would not be feasible or efficient for Legal Aid NSW to provide regular outreach services. The Program also aims to increase the uptake of grants of legal aid for representation in regional NSW. ROCP clinics operate from host agencies including local neighbourhood centres, Local Courts, public libraries and family support services.

The work of the ROCP Program is guided by a Steering Committee that scopes and determines ROCP locations.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

ROCP services are continuously reviewed and realigned to complement in-house outreach activity. As at June 2018, ROCP clinics are held in Boggabilla, Toomelah, Tweed Heads, South West Rocks, Laurieton, Taree, Gloucester, Cowra, Griffith, Goulburn, Queanbeyan, Bateman’s Bay and Bega.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in service delivery

ROCP solicitors are expected to provide high quality legal advice in areas of law usually delivered by in-house practitioners. ROCP solicitors attend an annual in-house training on new and emerging areas of law provided by our in-house experts, and are briefed on new policy and practice developments. All ROCP solicitors are also invited to attend all Legal Aid NSW conferences.

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Review all the ROCP locations.
  • Develop new Guidelines for the ROCP.