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Annual Report 2018 - 2019

How our key services tracked over the past year

We provide services to disadvantaged people, including vulnerable clients with complex needs and those who are financially disadvantaged. The number of services shows the volume of work undertaken, but is not indicative of the degree of complexity of this work.

OBJECTIVE: Meeting clients' needs

Total client services

Since 2014–15 our overall service count has decreased because of a substantial drop in total information services provided. This is partly due to changes we made to the way we deal with telephone calls from prisoners, which increased our efficiency but reduced the volume of telephone services recorded. It is also influenced by a general trend towards clients obtaining information through our website rather than by telephone. Information services are extremely high volume, representing about half of our total client services, so fluctuations in this service area can have a significant effect on recorded totals.

In September 2018, we changed the way we define information services to align with the agreed national standard. We also introduced a new service type, known as extended legal assistance services, which allowed us to more accurately capture ongoing work outside of ongoing representation in a court or tribunal. In the past, this work was often recorded as multiple, separate minor assistance services. For example, our provision of advice services fell by 3.9% and our provision of high-volume information services fell by 37.5% between 2017–18 and 2018–19, but our provision of more intensive extended legal assistance services rose by 64.5% as we made this service type available across more areas of law.

Total client services chart

Duty services

Duty services grew by 22.1% over the five years to 2018–19, with all law types contributing to the increase. A rise in the number of duty services provided in criminal law was the main driver of this overall trend. Criminal duty services increased by 33,674 services, or 22.4%, over this period. Family duty services also increased significantly over these five years, by 4,099 services, or 43.5%. This was mainly due to the increase in duty services designed to meet the needs of families affected by domestic violence.

Duty services chart

Legal advice and outreach advice services

Legal advice service delivery has increased in each area of law since 2014–15, with an overall increase in advice services of 11.1% over the five years. The total advice service figure includes outreach advice services, which are delivered outside Legal Aid NSW offices by lawyers who step into community settings. Outreach services have risen significantly over this five-year period, by 36.5%.

Legal advice services chart Outreach advice services chart

Minor assistance

Minor assistance service volumes fell by 41.6% over the five years to 2018–19. The trend of falling provision of minor assistance services has sharpened since last year, largely because of the expansion of a new service type during this period, known as extended legal assistance. In most cases, where a client receives an extended legal assistance service, the same client would have received multiple minor assistance and legal advice services under old service recording conventions. A drop in minor assistance services recorded does not necessarily reflect less of this work being done, but may indicate that this work is being recorded more meaningfully. See A new service type for more information about extended legal assistance services.

Minor assistance services chart

Family law mediations

There was a 7.6% increase in the number of family dispute resolution conferences held in 2018–19 compared with 2014–15, reflecting our continued commitment to less adversarial forms of dispute resolution. The success rate of our family dispute resolution conferences remained consistently high over this five-year period, with around 80% of these matters resolved at mediation.

Family law mediations chart

Community legal education

Community legal education sessions have fallen by 8.5% since 2014–15, although 2018–19 marked the reversal of the trend of declining community legal education services seen over the previous four years. Over this period we have focused on delivering community legal education to priority target groups and using technologies including podcasts to deliver community legal education more cost-effectively.

CLE sessions chart

Aboriginal clients

The proportion of Aboriginal clients receiving casework (including extended legal assistance) and duty services rose every year between 2014–15 and 2018–19. Significantly, 44.7% of extended legal assistance services approved in 2018–19 were delivered to Aboriginal clients.

Aboriginal clients chart