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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

What we did over the past year

This year was a time of significant change for Legal Aid NSW with the restructure of the Policy Planning and Programs Division, and a restructure of the Criminal Law Division to implement the NSW Government criminal justice reforms.

There were also some changes in the leadership of Legal Aid NSW with the appointment of a new Deputy CEO, and Director Grants.

We also developed our first five-year strategic plan. The Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018–2023 addresses the growing demand for our services and recognises that disadvantaged people have complex and multifaceted needs. The Plan 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. (See Strategic plan)

During the year, significant work was completed and the majority of actions in our plan were achieved. These are some of our highlights.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

Services to support our most vulnerable clients

We began a new domestic violence service in the Central Coast region—a service that offers immediate help to families affected by family violence as well as intensive casework, and social worker support to vulnerable clients. See Central coast.

We reviewed our service delivery model in the North West of NSW for communities experiencing high levels of disadvantage, and began a staged approach to improve our service model in the region. See Expanding services.

Services to Aboriginal people, young people and homeless people increased with a pilot of a new form of representation service called Extended Legal Assistance (ELA). See Extended legal assistance.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

Transforming how we deliver services to clients

Phase 1 of our Client Service Strategy includes the development of an online booking system, installing new client kiosks in regional locations, and the first phase of a client-centred model to tailor legal support based on clients’ legal and social needs. See Putting clients at the centre and Clients at the centre of everything.

We responded to the NSW Government’s package of criminal justice reforms including the Driver Disqualification Removal and Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas. See Criminal justice reforms.

Seven civil lawyers started work to provide a coordinated response to the NSW Government’s Homelessness Strategy 2018–2023. See Helping people at risk of homelessnes.

OBJECTIVE Supporting our staff

Supporting our staff to support our most vulnerable clients

Our first five-year strategic plan 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. See See Strategic plan 2018-2023.

The Civil Law Legal Excellence Program in partnership with the Law Society NSW supports our in-house staff to develop the technical skills and expertise required for our diverse practice. See Partners in legal excellence.

Partnering with Aboriginal community members to provided specific and tailored Aboriginal Cultural Competency training to staff, private practitioners and key partners the Aboriginal Legal Service and Community Legal Centres. See Cultural competency sessions.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

Partnerships expanded to deliver more targeted services

Our partnerships with health services expanded over the year to include five new health justice partnerships in 2017–2018 and we continue to be active participants in a further 19 health justice partnerships across NSW. See Achieving better health and legal outcomes.

Financial summary

Our net financial result was a surplus of $0.3 million.

  2016–2017 ($M) 2017–2018 ($M) Change %
Operating Revenue 307.8 319.7 3.87%
Operating Expenses 306.4 318.9 4.08%
Total Assets 83.5 87.3 4.55%
Total Liabilities 32.0 35.5 10.94%
Surplus / (Deficit) 1.4 0.3 (78.57%)
Net Equity 51.5 51.8 0.58%

Achievements against the Legal Aid NSW Plan 2017–2018

We achieved the majority of actions in our plan for the year. The above sections highlight examples of work we did particularly well.

Access to justice

Objective 1: To promote access to justice through early intervention and better targeting of legal assistance to disadvantaged people

  • Delivered legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities under the Reconciliation Action Plan 2015–2018 through programs to ensure culturally competent services and partnerships with community and government (See Aboriginal community partnerships)
  • Implemented the NSW Government’s package of Criminal Justice Reforms (sentencing, parole and high risk offender reforms (See Justice reforms)
  • Provided integrated duty lawyer and family violence support services in designated family law courts as part of the Family Advocacy and Support Service (See FASS)
  • Expanded legal service delivery in remote NSW to improve client access to legal assistance (See Expanding services)
  • Developed an Elder Abuse Strategy for the delivery of high quality, client-centred services to people experiencing, or at risk of, elder abuse (See Elder abuse strategy)

Excellence in legal services

Objective 2: To pursue excellence, innovation and efficiency in legal service delivery

Supporting our people

Objective 3: To support and develop our people and improve our systems to meet organisational goals

Strong partnerships

Objective 4: To build strong, effective service partnerships to respond to the legal and non legal needs of our clients

  • Implemented and evaluated a model of integrated service delivery with non-legal service providers in service hubs where there are high levels of disadvantage (See Effective partnerships benefit the community)
  • Developed and piloted a professional development framework for the civil law in-house practice, in collaboration with the Law Society NSW (See Partners in legal excellence)
  • Developed and evaluated a 'one legal aid' approach to legal services for newly arrived refugees as part of the NSW Government's initiative to support refugees to settle in NSW (See Delivering services to refugees)
  • Led the development and implementation a national multi-disciplinary training program for lawyers on the representation of children in family law matters (See Providing more services to disadvantaged groups)