Go to content

Annual Report 2020 - 2021

Meeting the needs of diverse clients

Many of our services are targeted to the most vulnerable people in our community.

Fact file
Proportion of grants delivered to clients born in non-English speaking countries: 9.5%
Amount spent on interpreters and translators: $1,539,634

The Legal Aid NSW Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2020–2021 has two main objectives: achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce and providing services that recognise and respond to the legal and support needs of diverse clients. Our diverse clients cover a broad range of groups including people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and people from LGBTQIA+ communities.

Guided by the plan, this year we revamped our Staff Disability Network and our Equity and Diversity Committee. The groups play an important role in supporting Legal Aid NSW to strive for best practice in inclusive services.

We also joined the ACON Welcome Here program. Welcome Here supports businesses and services throughout Australia to create and promote environments that are visibly welcoming and inclusive of sexually and gender diverse communities.

Story iconZara’s story

Zara* said that the Refugee Service made her feel safe, secure and protected, and that her family lawyer stood by her side when she had nobody else in Australia to support her.

“I am a victim of domestic violence. The Refugee Service helped me understand that everyone should respect women, that your husband should understand that there is law and Australia is a developed country and as a human being, the woman has the right to live peacefully with no violence and abuse. The Refugee Service kept my violent husband away from me and made me feel important; that I am a woman who is important and has a place in this society. It made me feel that I am a woman living in a country that has rights. [Before] I was living like a slave to serve my husband and my children… I am proud of Legal Aid. They helped me and I say this loudly wherever I go.”

*name changed

Targeted programs fill the gaps

In addition to initiatives delivered under our Strategic Plan and Diversity and Inclusion Plan, Legal Aid NSW delivers targeted programs to meet the specific legal needs of diverse communities.

1. Refugee Service

The Legal Aid NSW Refugee Service provides legal advice, assistance and representation, and a range of community legal education to refugees in NSW. The most recent external evaluation in 2019 found that the service is highly valued by both refugee clients and stakeholders, well implemented and promoted to refugees, fills a critical gap in legal support for refugees, and is regarded as a vital service in the sector. Clients reported feeling extremely comfortable using the service and are prepared to trust the service and recommend it to others.

2. Immigration Service

The Immigration Service provides legal advice, assistance and representation for people seeking asylum in Australia, victims of family violence, people who have had their visa cancelled or experienced a legal error in an earlier migration decision.

Legal Aid NSW has supported a significant number of clients affected by trauma, including those affected by family violence from their sponsoring former partner, and refugees with a reasonable fear of persecution in their home countries to attain a permanent visa.

3. Community legal education (CLE)

CLE is the way we educate the community to know their rights and get legal help. Each year Legal Aid NSW delivers a wide range of CLE to diverse communities, through face-to-face presentations and information sessions, workshops, attendance at community events across NSW, and online via podcasts, YouTube channels and webinars. Legal Aid NSW delivers CLE to community members, organisations and health workers.

A key activity this year was to deliver COVID-19-related CLE sessions to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, in partnership with community organisations, on topics such as:

  • immigration and citizenship during COVID-19
  • refugee laws and COVID-19, and
  • issues for workers from culturally diverse communities.

Story iconKamina’s story

Kamina* was a newly arrived refugee who wanted some advice about Australia’s immigration laws and processes. Having only been in Australia for a few months, Kamina was experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of being separated from her partner and trying to settle into a new country.

Kamina attended a CLE session at her local TAFE and found the information about immigration laws exactly what she needed. Kamina then met with a Refugee Service lawyer for advice about how to sponsor her partner to migrate to Australia.

Kamina had a positive experience with the Refugee Service.

“I found the service very helpful. The information was very well presented. Since the day of the information session, I feel more relieved. The lawyer answered all my questions such as sponsorship fees and steps to prepare towards the application… I have all the details and I know of the requirements and procedures to plan for his application.”

*name changed

Interpreting and translation services

Interpreting and translation services allow Legal Aid NSW services to be adapted for non-English speaking clients. Our expenditure on interpreting and translation increased to $1,539,634 (excl GST) in 2020–2021.

Our flagship information brochure, Legal Aid NSW – How we can help you, is available in 23 languages. Additionally, a wide range of legal information brochures have been translated into community languages, including:

  • 45 publications and three videos in Arabic
  • 37 publications and two videos in Chinese (simplified), and
  • 34 publications in Vietnamese.

How we can help youCover of our flagship information
brochure, Legal Aid NSW – How
we can help you