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Annual Report 2020 - 2021


Community legal centres

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

The program funds 32 generalist and specialist centres and the sector’s peak body Community Legal Centres NSW. This includes the Aboriginal Legal Access Program and Children’s Court Assistance Scheme. The CLC Program also funds the Court Support Scheme, operated by the Community Restorative Centre.

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


A total of $26,996,337 was paid to CLCs and Community Legal Centres NSW through the program.

CLCs funding

Additional funding

In addition to CLC Program funding, the CLC sector also received the following additional Commonwealth funding:

  • $1,500,000 of bushfire support funding
  • $5,433,439 of COVID-19 funding, and
  • $477,901 of Domestic Violence Unit funding.

More details about funding can be found in Appendix 4.

CLCs provided vital bushfire support

In 2020–2021, farmers, small businesses and regional communities were recovering from the worst bushfire season in living memory. In response, the Commonwealth Government allocated close to $5 million for legal assistance services in NSW. Of this funding, $1.5 million was administered to nine community legal centres in NSW to deliver bushfire-related legal services. This enabled a range of generalist and specialist centres to increase their capacity to assist individuals affected by the bushfires.

Fact file
CLCs funded through the Community Legal Centres Program:
Assisted 40,710 people
Provided 48,774 advice services and 10,214 legal tasks for clients
Opened 5,107 representation services and closed 4,437 representation services, including closing 1,280 for court and tribunal services
Provided 3,538 duty lawyer services
Delivered 1,052 community legal education activities and created 356 resources, and
Made 68,212 referrals.

Two of the centres were funded to provide legal assistance to small business and primary producers. This included the extension of Justice Connect’s pro bono platform to support the link between small businesses and primary producers with pro bono services.

Providing assistance to communities during COVID-19

An additional $5.43 million of Commonwealth COVID-19 funding was allocated to 38 centres for frontline legal assistance services and information and communications technology (ICT) support. The additional funding allowed centres to respond to unprecedented demand and deliver more legal assistance services to people experiencing disadvantage.

The frontline legal assistance funding increased the capacity of centres to respond to increased demand related to the pandemic. Almost 80 percent of this funding was provided to support people experiencing domestic and family violence who were impacted by COVID-19.

The ICT funding enabled centres to facilitate virtual and remote working arrangements and purchase additional equipment. This allowed centres to adapt, ensuring continued service delivery and the safety of staff, clients and communities, in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will continue to support CLCs as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We will work with CLCs on a range of access to justice initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • We will implement the next application process for CLC funding.

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program

Legal Aid NSW administers NSW Government funding for Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs) across the state through our Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (WDVCAP) Unit.

WDVCASs provide women experiencing domestic and family violence and their children with information, advocacy, safety planning, referrals and support through the court process at all Local Courts across NSW.

WDVCASs play a key role in the NSW Government’s Safer Pathway program, including providing secretariat support and victim liaison for Safety Action Meetings (SAMs) across the state. SAMs are local, interagency meetings that aim to assist victims at serious threat of injury or death due to domestic and family violence.

We also administer the social support services component of the Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS), a national scheme of integrated legal and social support for families affected by domestic and family violence. WDVCASs provide social support for women through the FASS at the Sydney, Parramatta, Wollongong and Newcastle family law court registries, and Relationships Australia NSW provides social support for men. In 2020–2021, FASS social support workers assisted 1,619 clients.

Fact file
Increase in the number of clients supported compared with the previous year 3.4%
Increase in the number of service events provided15.1%
Increase in referrals made for clients 1.7%
WDVCAS clients identified as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people14.9%
WDVCAS clients identified as being from culturally diverse backgrounds18.6%
WDVCAS clients identified as having a disability10.2%


This year, we administered $33,454,966 in grant funding to WDVCASs. For further details regarding WDVCAS funding, see Appendix 3.

Number of women supported by Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services


Improved services for Aboriginal women experiencing domestic and family violence

From April 2021, for the first time, all 27 WDVCASs have an Aboriginal focus worker at their service. There are now 32 Aboriginal focus workers across 27 WDVCASs providing statewide support.

Aboriginal focus workers provide specialist support to Aboriginal women experiencing domestic and family violence and support their teams to engage appropriately with Aboriginal clients. They also undertake community engagement activities to build connections between WDVCASs and Aboriginal communities.

Supporting WDVCASs to adapt to COVID-19

This year we helped services adapt their approach to service delivery in response to the unique challenges posed by COVID-19. WDVCASs shifted to providing more support to clients via email and telephone, and Safety Action Meetings were held online.

Keeping WDVCAS staff skilled and responsive

We moved Safety Action Meeting training and continuing education training online, which allowed WDVCAS staff and representatives from multiple agencies to remain skilled and responsive during the pandemic. This year, the continuing education training focused on ensuring WDVCAS staff can provide appropriate support and referrals for LGBTQIA+ clients.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will progress the development of a new, tailored online client management system for WDVCASs.
  • We will provide support to the Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS) to expand its social support component to cover all Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia circuit locations in NSW.
  • We will continue working with NSW Police to redesign the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool.