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Annual Report 2021 - 2022


About this report

This annual report reviews and reports on our activities and performance, including what we set out to do in the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018–2023.

This report incorporates operational activities of our organisation, including joint initiatives. It reflects our commitment to effective corporate governance through openness and accountability. It provides an account of our revenue and how we have used public funds. The report also looks to the year ahead and comments on the challenges facing Legal Aid NSW.

Last year’s annual report received a Gold Award from the Australasian Reporting Awards – our 19th Gold Award. This is our 43rd annual report.

About 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 launched One Legal Aid – a new client service model, triage process, integrated intake and client appointment booking process, supported by our new Statewide Advice Team.
  • We established a Closing the Gap Project Board chaired by senior Aboriginal staff to guide our progress towards contributing to targets under Closing the Gap.
  • We introduced an Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework.
  • We continued to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic while minimising risk to our staff and clients.
  • We mobilised the Disaster Response Legal Service to provide 2,737 legal services in response to catastrophic flooding events in February 2022.
  • Our Lismore office continued to provide services to clients despite the enormous personal impact staff faced following the floods and the temporary closure of the Lismore office space.
  • We created the Family Law Service for Aboriginal Communities (FamAC) to provide outreach, casework and duty services at court to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of recommendations from the family law blueprint.
  • We established a Walama Unit comprising of a team of specialised solicitors and allied staff to assist clients eligible for the Walama List Pilot at Sydney District Court.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will expand services to people experiencing workplace sexual harassment or discrimination, people with mental health conditions and women experiencing or at risk of domestic and family violence.
  • We will expand our Aboriginal Field Officer Program and improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal people and communities.
  • We will develop the Civil Law blueprint to determine future direction and priorities for the Civil Law Division.
  • We will improve our recruitment and grievance handling processes.
  • We will implement our Allied Professional Workforce framework and improve access to caseworkers, social workers, mental health workers, youth workers and financial counsellors to support highly disadvantaged and vulnerable clients and help us contribute to Closing the Gap targets.
  • We will continue to improve how we monitor workload and the wellbeing of our staff.
  • We will support the expansion of the NSW Drug Court and Youth Koori Court in Dubbo.
  • We will implement Project Respect, a program of actions and strategies to strengthen an inclusive and diverse culture at Legal Aid NSW.

Key challenge iconKey challenge

  • Implementing strategies to support our staff in managing workload and wellbeing and improving access to our services throughout NSW.

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 2020–2021 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 30 June 2022 to you for presentation to Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Monique Hitter
Chief Executive Officer
October 2022