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Annual Report 2018 - 2019

Meeting the needs of diverse clients

Many of our services are targeted to the most vulnerable people in our community.

Fact file
Proportion of grants and in-house duty services we delivered to clients born in non-English speaking countries: 12.1%
Amount spent on interpreters and translators: $828,309
Number of languages other than English spoken by private lawyers on our panels: 54

The Legal Aid NSW Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2018–2019 outlines key objectives to ensure our services recognise and respond to the legal and support needs of diverse clients. Guided by the plan, this year we:

  • developed a tip sheet for our staff that aimed to improve the way diverse clients receive Legal Aid NSW services, and
  • reviewed our processes for panel lawyer recruitment so that lawyers with skills relevant to working with clients with particular disabilities can be more readily identified.

OBJECTIVE: Meeting clients' needs

Using the law to protect vulnerable older Australians

We developed a comprehensive plan to expand our services for people experiencing or at risk of elder abuse. It can take many forms – financial, physical, psychological and sexual – but at its core, elder abuse is an abuse of trust.

Research confirms there are barriers to delivering legal services to people experiencing or at risk of elder abuse. This year, Legal Aid NSW sought to respond to these barriers with the Legal Aid NSW Elder Abuse Strategy 2018–2019, which we delivered in collaboration with organisations already working on elder abuse, including the Seniors Rights Service and the NSW Elder Abuse and Resource Unit.

Highlights delivered under the strategy this year include:

  • 80,000 copies of the Legal Topics for Older People Diary 2019 distributed
  • more than 200 community legal education sessions delivered to or aimed at people aged over 65, including 46 sessions focused on elder abuse
  • expanded outreach services for vulnerable older people, and
  • a comprehensive review of all Legal Aid NSW eligibility policies to identify barriers to legal assistance for victims of, or those at risk of, elder abuse.

Increasing access to justice for Aboriginal people

We are working to increase access to justice for Aboriginal people and foster strong partnerships with other organisations that serve Aboriginal clients. We developed our Aboriginal Client Services Strategy 2019–2023 to help us ensure that we provide high-quality services to Aboriginal clients and that we can work to effect systemic change that will benefit Aboriginal people and communities.

We also plan to review our eligibility policies with a view to improving access to legal aid for Aboriginal people. In 2018–19 15.7 percent of our casework and in-house duty services were delivered to Aboriginal clients, up from 14.2 percent the previous year.

Community legal education on elder abuse – Piano Forte

This community legal education project is a filmed performance of the play Piano Forte, which highlights the subtle way elder abuse can take hold, and explores the role and responsibilities of a person appointed under an enduring power of attorney. With permission from Suncoast Community Legal Service, which first developed this engaging resource, we adapted it for NSW audiences. Since its first screening in 2018, the film has been well received and is now available on request. Piano Forte was screened more than 30 times in 2018–19, including during Law Week 2019.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will review the Legal Aid NSW interpreting and translation guidelines.
  • We will begin implementing our Aboriginal Client Services Strategy.
  • We will strive to learn more about how clients from diverse groups access legal services through panel lawyers.