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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Past and present, our history

Our history

New South Wales has a long history of providing legal aid for criminal, family and civil law problems. In almost 100 years, legal aid has developed from a charity to a key element of the justice system.

1918 on a stylised angular shape of NSWPoor Persons Legal Remedies Act— first formal legal aid scheme

1941 on a stylised angular shape of NSWThe Public Defender’s Office represents disadvantaged people in serious criminal cases

1943 on a stylised angular shape of NSWThe Legal Assistance Act 1943 set up the Public Solicitor’s Office—the first time in the western world that lawyers were employed to give legal aid to low income earners

1974 on a stylised angular shape of NSW‘Shopfront lawyers’ in the new Australian Legal Aid Office provide services under Commonwealth law

1979 on a stylised angular shape of NSWThe NSW Government establishes the Legal Services Commission (now known as Legal Aid NSW)

1987 on a stylised angular shape of NSWState and Commonwealth legal aid offices merge to form the Legal Aid Commission of NSW

1990's on a stylised angular shape of NSWExpansion includes alternate dispute resolution and specialist services for children, women experiencing domestic violence, prisoners, and people with mental health problems.

2018 on a stylised map of NSWLegal Aid NSW is facing a number of challenges in its future including an increasing demand for services, limited resources and changing social conditions. We developed a longer term five-year plan that clearly sets our direction and priorities, areas for us to invest time and resources, the services we want to provide and how we will develop and support our staff.

Key legislation governing our work

Our organisation is established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (the Act). The Act establishes Legal Aid NSW as an independent statutory body with a mandate to provide effective, efficient and economical legal services that are available and accessible to disadvantaged people in New South Wales.

The Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (the GSE Act) provides a framework for employment and workforce management. We have complied with the GSE Act and introduced a new performance planning and staff development system.

The health and safety of people in our workplace is conducted in accordance with section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Our financial statements are prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.

How Legal Aid NSW is connected to its partners in the justice sector

Justice sector chart