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Annual Report 2019 - 2020


Annual report 2019 - 2020 - Legal Aid NSW

Legal Aid NSW is an independent statutory body, established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW), reporting to the Attorney General of NSW, the Hon. Mark Speakman SC, MP.

Key achievements iconKey achievements

  • We moved our organisation to remote services and working in response to COVID-19.
  • We increased fees to private lawyers by securing $88 million over four years.
  • We met the needs of communities affected by bushfires by creating the Disaster Response Legal Service.
  • We reduced application processing times to five days.
  • We took over the management of LawAccess NSW.
  • We introduced a range of digital initiatives to improve accessibility to our services for our clients.
  • We increased access to justice by amending our policies on domestic violence, means tests during COVID-19, and in care and protection matters.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will continue to monitor changes relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and assess whether modified methods of service delivery should be retained or adapted for ongoing operations.
  • We will implement the framework for engaging with private practitioners.
  • We will implement strategic workforce planning across the organisation.
  • We will implement greater automation in the grants process.

Our vision

To be a leader in a legal system that delivers fair outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

Our purpose

We use the law to help people, particularly those who are disadvantaged, know, defend, and assert their rights. The Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW) is the foundation from which we work, and clearly outlines why we exist and what we do. We fulfil our obligations by providing accessible, quality legal services and education to disadvantaged and vulnerable clients.

Our outcomes

Our strategic outcomes will guide our efforts over the five-year period covered by the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018–2023. This report highlights initiatives we pursued during 2019–2020 to progress our strategic outcomes.

  1. High-quality, targeted services that meet our clients’ needs
  2. Partnerships that deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients
  3. Our work improves the legal and justice systems
  4. A highly capable workforce that is flexible, developed and equipped
  5. Business processes that are responsive to our business needs

The Hon. Mark Speakman SC, MP
Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
52 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Dear Attorney,

In accordance with section 13 (1) of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW) and section 10 (1) of the Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984 (NSW), I am pleased to submit the Legal Aid NSW annual report for the year ended June 30, 2020 to you for presentation to Parliament.
Yours sincerely,

Brendan Thomas
Chief Executive Officer
November 2020

Legal Aid NSW 40th anniversary event

Audit and Risk Committee member Robyn Gray, Legal Aid NSW Board member Ainslie van Onselen, Legal Aid NSW Board member Michael Coleman, Chair of the Legal Aid NSW Board Craig Smith, Legal Aid NSW Board member Sue Gilchrist, Audit and Risk Committee member Peter Whitehead, and Legal Aid NSW Board member Richard Henry at the Legal Aid NSW 40th anniversary event.