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Annual Report 2019 - 2020

Key activities of the board

The 10 members of our Board determine our broad policies and strategic priorities.

The Board of Legal Aid NSW consists of 10 members, including the Chair and the CEO of Legal Aid NSW.

Meetings of the Board

The Board held six meetings in 2019–2020 and made one out-of-session decision to note Legal Aid NSW’s comprehensive response to COVID-19. One quarter of the Board’s time was spent on reviewing finance and operational reports and considering matters raised by the Audit and Risk Committee.

Engagement with committees

The Board is advised by the Legal Aid NSW Audit and Risk Committee, which advises on budgetary and internal audit matters.

Decisions of the Board 2019–2020

September 24, 2019
  • Approved amendments to the family law, civil law and means test policies to reflect the recommendations of a review of legal aid policies covered by the Elder Abuse Strategy.
  • Approved the Private Lawyer Quality Framework.
October 29, 2019
  • Approved amendments to the means test for the family law property mediation pilot.
  • Noted the evaluations of the Refugee Service, Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities and Children’s Civil Law Service.
December 3, 2019
  • Approved structural changes to better remunerate private lawyers for local court matters and travel allowances to commence on January 1, 2020.
February 25, 2020
  • Noted the work of the Disaster Response Legal Service and acknowledged staff who had been personally and professionally affected by the bushfires.
  • Noted the progress report for the Private Lawyer Quality Framework.
  • Noted the updated report on the conflict of interest policy.
  • Approved the recommendation to review eligibility policies for people experiencing domestic and family violence in family law property matters.
  • Approved eligibility policy changes to immigration and sexual assault communications privilege matters.
  • Approved eligibility policy amendments made following the commencement of NSW sentencing reforms in October 2018.
  • Approved the Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2020–2021.
  • Noted the final report on the implementation of the Elder Abuse Strategy 2018–2019.
April 28, 2020
  • Approved changes to the means test which reflect and recognise the Commonwealth Government’s coronavirus economic stimulus package and the impact of COVID-19 on applicants for legal aid.
June 30, 2020
  • Approved increases to the hourly rate for private lawyers (and equivalent percentage increases for counsel) commencing on July 1, 2020 and increasing over the next four years, and an increase in the fee for jail visits.
  • Approved the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2020–2021.
  • Approved amendments to the family law property policy to ensure people who are experiencing or at risk of domestic or family violence or who have a disability, can access grants of legal aid for property settlement matters.
  • Approved an amendment exempting parents in primary care and protection matters being subject to Legal Aid NSW’s means test during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • The Board will oversee the implementation of the third year of the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018–2023.
  • The Board will continue to oversee the integration of LawAccess NSW with Legal Aid NSW.
  • The Board will continue to oversee the development of a Private Lawyer Quality Framework that will serve as the foundation for our engagement with private lawyers.