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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Overview

Legal Aid NSW is an independent statutory body, established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979, reporting to the Attorney General of New South Wales, the Hon Mark Speakman SC, MP.

Staff from Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities

Staff from our Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities

Who we are

We are the largest legal aid agency in Australia. Our role is to deliver and coordinate legal aid services. A Board of 10 members determines our policies and priorities. Board members are appointed by the New South Wales Attorney General for a period of up to three years.

In this report we refer to ourselves as Legal Aid NSW.

What we do

We provide legal services across New South Wales, through a state-wide network of 24 offices and 235 regular outreach locations, with a particular focus on assisting socially and economically disadvantaged people.

We assist with legal problems through a comprehensive suite of services across criminal, family and civil law.

Our services range from high volume legal information, education, advice, minor assistance, dispute resolution and duty services, through to an extensive litigation practice.

More intensive assistance, such as casework and legal representation, is means tested and sometimes merit tested.

We work in partnership with private lawyers who receive funding from Legal Aid NSW to represent legally aided clients.

We also work in close partnership with LawAccess NSW, Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited and pro bono legal services. Our community partnerships include the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program and the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services, whose funding we administer.

We work closely with other agencies providing social and support services to disadvantaged and marginalised people, helping us achieve more integrated services that address clients’ legal and non-legal needs.

Our purpose and values

We are committed to helping people to understand and protect their legal rights. We do this through advice, advocacy, representation and education, focusing on disadvantaged people and communities.

We are committed to providing an expert service; being inclusive and respectful and making a difference—in line with the New South Wales public service values of integrity, trust, service and accountability. These values are reflected in our Code of Conduct and govern the way we do our business.

Our Client Service Strategy 2016–2020 supports a client-centred approach to service delivery. It puts clients at the centre of everything we do and makes sure that every decision we make considers the impact it will have on our clients.

Our objectives

Our main objective is to improve access to justice for the most disadvantaged people in our society, responding to their legal and non-legal needs. We aim to provide legal assistance that can help people break the cycle of disadvantage. To do this, we draw on the skills and dedication of our highly experienced employees and work alongside a growing network of stakeholder partners to deliver joint services.

About this report

This annual report reviews and reports on our activities and performance, including what we set out to do in our Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2017– 2018. The four key objectives of the plan are to:

  • promote access to justice through early intervention and prevention and better targeting of legal assistance to disadvantaged people.
  • pursue excellence, innovation and efficiency in legal service delivery.
  • support and develop our people and improve our systems to meet organisational goals.
  • build strong, effective service partnerships to respond to the legal and non-legal needs of our clients.

Achievements in this report are aligned with focus areas from the plan such as service expansion in regional and remote areas, early intervention strategies, better data collection and stronger partnerships so we can better respond to clients’ changing legal needs.

This report incorporates all operational activities of our organisation, including joint initiatives. It reflects our commitment to effective corporate governance through openness and accountability. It provides an account of our revenue and how we have used public funds. The report also looks to the year ahead and comments on the challenges facing Legal Aid NSW.

Last year’s annual report received a Gold Award from the Australasian Reporting Awards—our eleventh Gold Award.

This is our thirty-ninth annual report. This, and earlier annual reports, are available on the Legal Aid NSW website in PDF format and easy-to-navigate HTML format. They can be found on our website: www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au > Publications

In accordance with Public Service Commission directions, Legal Aid NSW no longer distributes printed copies of its annual report.