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Annual Report 2018 - 2019

Community legal education

The Legal Aid NSW Community Legal Education Program provides targeted education for priority client groups and community professionals working with our priority client groups. In 2018–19 we focused on children and young people, new arrivals and culturally and linguistically diverse people, and women and people experiencing domestic violence.

We provided a significantly higher number of community legal education services in 2018–19 compared with the previous year, and we continued to reach community workers in innovative ways, including through podcasts and live and on-demand webinars. Through strong partnerships and resource-sharing, we developed new resources without duplication.

We delivered 2,722 community legal education services, a 39.2 percent increase on the previous year.

Area of law2016–172017–182018–19 Change from previous year
Criminal law 757 514 715 39.1%
Family law 535 571 739 29.4%
Civil law 881 870 1,268 45.7%
Total 2,173 1,955 2,722 39.2%

OBJECTIVE: Meeting clients' needs

Developing new resources

We created a multilingual video series providing information about renting. The videos feature a female character who explores a range of tenancy-related topics including leases, property repairs, rental bonds and condition reports. The videos were adapted from resources created by Consumer Affairs Victoria and translated into Arabic, Assyrian, Dari and Kurmanji.

We developed factsheets about the Working With Children Check to help people understand when they might need to apply for it, how to apply, and what happens after applying. The factsheets were developed in consultation with clients, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian, as well as Legal Aid NSW lawyers with expertise in human rights and family law. The resources include a factsheet developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Legal Aid NSW and the Seniors Rights Service partnered to continue delivering our successful Borrowers Beware community radio project, which is targeted at older people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. This year, Borrowers Beware broadcasts in English, Mandarin and Arabic focused on the risks of entering into a financial arrangement, like taking out a loan or becoming a guarantor, for the benefit of a loved one.

Helping young people understand their legal rights and responsibilities

We developed a workshop to be delivered in schools, called Let’s Talk about Consent, to help young people understand the law relating to sex and consent, including ethical consent. Based on a Victorian resource, this interactive workshop uses case studies, videos and quizzes to engage and educate students.

During Youth Week 2019, we launched When Can I?, a resource to help young people learn the age at which they can legally do things like opening a bank account, leaving school or getting a tattoo. Teachers, librarians and youth workers can download a poster from the Legal Aid NSW website to display in their school, library or youth centre. The website also contains information for young people about how a lawyer can help them and where to get free legal help.

A new way to access our most popular publication

We published and distributed 80,000 copies of the Legal Topics for Older People Diary 2019. The diary is our most requested resource, and this year we made it available online. Now in its eighth year, the diary provides practical information about seniors’ rights, consumer law, aged care, as well as community services, and is an important plank in our Elder Abuse Strategy 2018–19.

OBJECTIVE: Strong partnerships

Educating the educators

We joined the peak body Community Legal Centres NSW to deliver a masterclass on providing community legal education. The event was attended by almost 50 practitioners from Legal Aid NSW and community legal centres. Topics focused on developing the attendees’ skills in facilitation, evaluation and working with client groups such as young people, older people, people with disability, migrants and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bringing the law into NSW communities

Legal Aid NSW worked with the State Library of NSW’s Find Legal Answers service to bring 45 community legal education sessions to libraries across NSW for Law Week 2019. Lawyers from Legal Aid NSW and four community legal centres were joined by service providers and Fair Trading NSW representatives to present four free workshops exploring scams and how to avoid them, planning ahead, elder abuse, and how the law can help people who access the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The workshops reached more than 600 people around the state.

OBJECTIVE: Responsive business processes

In April 2019, Deloitte completed a review of the way we collect information about, classify, and report on, our community legal education activities. The resulting report identified that the platform we used for collecting data, the Community Legal Education Management System, was not consistently used and that there was a need for a more robust data management solution. These findings echoed those of a recent Law and Justice Foundation of NSW report on Legal Aid NSW community legal education. In 2019–20, we will redesign existing processes and train staff across the organisation to ensure the new processes are well understood, effectively utilised and reliable.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will work with community legal centres and legal aid commissions across Australia to develop a training program for community legal education practitioners.
  • We will launch a community legal education campaign to help vulnerable people in NSW understand their rights in the face of vilification and discrimination, and educate the broader community about recent legislative changes relating to hate speech.
  • We will develop a new community legal education data capture tool and train staff to use it confidently.