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Annual Report 2019 - 2020

Complaint handling

An open and efficient complaints process helps us improve our services and remain accountable to the people we serve.

We received 142 frontline complaints about wait times and customer service issues. These were handled at a local level and did not require a formal response or investigation.

We received 428 escalated complaints. These complaints required further investigation and often a further explanation was required.

We received 211 enquiries from third parties querying another person’s grant of aid.

We encourage all types of feedback. Complaints, compliments and suggestions help us improve the quality of the services we provide and identify risks. We received 78 compliments.

“I am so relieved that I had the best solicitor. I cannot thank you enough. You treated my case with the utmost respect and did everything possible and more to better my case. I'm hoping that I never have to go to court again but if I did have to, I would have no hesitations in going through this legal process. Thank you so much, I can now move forward in my life.”

Complaints Working Group

Key representatives from most Legal Aid NSW divisions met on a monthly basis to identify and discuss complaints and areas of service improvement. This included the development of two tip sheets – Repeat Clients and Verifying Means –  aiming to improve the client experience.

Update to the complaints toolkit

We updated the complaints toolkit with further template letters and factsheets to support staff who may receive or respond to complaints. This aims to create a more consistent approach for clients who make complaints to Legal Aid NSW.

Implementation of the complaints management system

In June 2019, we implemented a new complaints management system. It offers a single, central place for staff across Legal Aid NSW to record and manage complaints and feedback.

We assisted staff to use this system to record all complaints and compliments, including training and one-on-one support.

“My son's solicitor was extremely supportive, professional and helpful at all times. Quick to reply to any questions or concerns, helping to make an extremely difficult time easier.”

Complaints response times

Our complaints policy has two performance targets for complaints response times:

  • 21 days, or
  • 30 days for complaints about private practitioners.

We report on any complaints outside of these response times to the Legal Aid NSW Executive on a monthly basis. We averaged three complaints per month over the 21-day time period and four complaints per month over the 30-day time period. We are managing to resolve complaints within the performance target periods and aim to see further improvement in the next year with greater visibility of outstanding complaints in the complaints management system.

Complaints2019–20
Grants – refusals 28
Grants – contribution policy 1
Grants – costs 4
Grants – section 25 or section 26 8
Grants – termination 5
In-house – customer service 27
In-house – conduct 56
Staff – conduct (other than in-house lawyer) 7
Policy or administrative processes 17
Private lawyer – conduct 118
Private lawyer – section 41 2
Private lawyer – complaints about Legal Aid NSW 6
Independent Children’s Lawyer – conduct 37
Mediator – conduct 15
Funding allocations 22
Other 40
To be determined 35
Total complaints428

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will increase staff recording of frontline complaints in the complaints management system to provide a more comprehensive picture of feedback.
  • We will develop strategies to manage client expectations of the complaints process to increase client satisfaction