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Annual Report 2019 - 2020


Community legal centres

Legal Aid NSW administers funding on behalf of the NSW Government, Commonwealth Government, and the Public Purpose Fund for the Community Legal Centres (CLC) Program in NSW.

Fact file
CLCs funded through the Community Legal Centres Program:
Assisted 38,783 people
Provided 47,149 advice services and 8,770 legal tasks for clients
Opened 4,721 representation services and closed 4,121 representation services, including closing 1,101 for court and tribunal services
Provided 2,064 duty lawyer services
Delivered 932 community legal education activities and created 339 resources
Made 59,818 referrals

The Program funds 33 centres and the state peak body Community Legal Centres NSW (CLCNSW). The CLC Program also funds the Aboriginal Legal Access Program, Children’s Court Assistance Scheme, and Court Support Scheme.

Community legal centres (CLCs) are independent, non-government organisations that provide accessible legal services to the general public, with a focus on vulnerable people facing disadvantage.


A total of $26,578,263 was paid to centres and Community Legal Centres NSW through the Program. This included:

  • $12,563,192 in Commonwealth funding, and
  • $14,015,071 in NSW Government and Public Purpose Fund funding.

More details about funding can be found in Appendix 4.

A new funding model for community legal services in NSW

The CLC Program Unit managed the community legal sector’s transition to the new funding model recommended by the Cameron Review.

The new application-based process ensures that government funding is invested based on evidence of greatest need and aligned with changing demographics and community demand. In total, 33 community legal centres received funding through the new application process.

Story iconMore CLC services in the Mid North Coast

A Law and Justice Foundation report found that there was legal need in Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Nambucca, due to its demographic of older people, higher average fines than the NSW average, high rate of people who experience financial disadvantage, a large culturally and linguistically diverse population, and a significant number of disengaged young people.

With additional funding from the NSW Government and the Public Purpose Fund, the Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre opened an office in Coffs Harbour and expanded its services to the local government areas of Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, and Nambucca. These services included providing information, legal advice, representation, and community legal education.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will support the community legal sector in implementing the new National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020–2025.
  • We will administer dedicated disaster recovery and COVID-19 funding to CLCs to increase frontline services and technological capacity.
  • We will review and strengthen the Aboriginal Legal Access Program Guidelines.

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program

Legal Aid NSW administers NSW Government funding for Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services across the state, and Women’s Safety NSW*, through the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program.

Fact file
Increase in the number of clients supported compared with the previous year 11.7%
Increase in the number of service events provided from the previous year 34.7%
Increase in referrals made for clients 16.3%
WDVCAS clients identified as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 13.7%
WDVCAS clients identified as being from culturally diverse backgrounds 20%
WDVCAS clients identified as having a disability 9.6%

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs) cover all NSW Local Courts and every police area across NSW. They provide information, court advocacy, safety planning and referrals to women experiencing domestic violence. They also play a key role in the NSW Government’s Safer Pathway program.

The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (WDVCAP) administers the social support services component of the Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS) at the Sydney, Parramatta, Wollongong and Newcastle Family Courts. This year FASS social support workers assisted 1,862 clients.

* In August 2019, the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW Inc became Women’s Safety NSW


This year, $29,718,884 was paid in grants through the WDVCAP to incorporated, not-for-profit, non-government service providers under a funding agreement with Legal Aid NSW. These services hosted WDVCASs across the state.

For further details regarding WDVCAP funding, see Appendix 3.

Increased coverage for people affected by domestic and family violence

This year we worked to increase the coverage of WDVCASs, culminating in the extension of services to all NSW Local Courts starting July 1, 2020. This represents an increase of over 20 locations, many of which are in small and remote communities.

More support for people affected by domestic and family violence

WDVCASs supported 53,527 clients, an 11.7 percent increase from last year. Referrals made included counselling, accommodation and health services.

In 2019–2020, 1,246 Safety Action Meetings were conducted across NSW. These meetings provided a targeted, multi-agency response to those affected by domestic and family violence who are assessed as being at serious risk of injury or death. Of the 12,509 matters referred to Safety Action Meetings, 90.6 percent were for women and 9.4 percent for men.

Building towards the future

The WDVCAP Unit conducted a tender and recontracting process to appoint WDVCAS providers for the period July 2020 to June 2024. An open tender was conducted for 12 locations and a recontracting process was conducted for 15 locations.

A realignment of WDVCAS boundaries with NSW Police boundaries was also completed, which will streamline and improve service delivery for victims.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will support WDVCASs to adapt to new boundaries and new service agreement requirements.
  • We will progress recommendations from the recent Domestic Violence Death Review Team report and Safer Pathway evaluation.

WDVCASs cultural competency

Members of the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (WDVCAP) and workers from Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs) participated in an Aboriginal cultural competency training program in 2019. The training program was presented by lecturers Dr Lynette Riley and Karen Menzies.