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Annual Report 2021 - 2022

Complaints handling

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

We received 54 frontline complaints about wait times and customer service issues, three privacy related complaints, 204 frontline complaints about solicitor conduct (both in-house and private lawyers), and 15 other non-categorised complaints in 2021–2022. These were handled at a local level and did not require a formal response or investigation.

We received 182 escalated complaints. These complaints required further investigation and often further explanation or action was required.

We received 159 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 83 compliments in 2021–2022.

Complaints response times

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

  • 15 business days, or
  • 30 business days for complaints about private lawyers.

Where we do not meet these response times for a complaint, we report this to the Legal Aid NSW Executive. We consistently met our performance targets for complaints managed within a 15 business day timeframe. For information on response times for complaints about private lawyers, see the chapter in Collaborating with our partners.

Complaints working group

Key representatives from across Legal Aid NSW met bi-monthly in 2021–2022 to identify and discuss complaints and areas of potential service improvement. This included monitoring the impact of COVID-19 and improving processes for priority clients to create a consistent approach.

Complaints training for staff

All new staff complete an induction which includes training on feedback and complaints to improve staff understanding of complaint-handling processes. In addition, the Complaints and Client Services Officer works one on one with teams to support staff to better understand and respond to challenging client behaviour.

Complaints by type

Grants – refusals 28 14
Grants – contribution policy 2 0
Grants – costs 1 4
Grants – section 25 or section 26 5 1
Grants – termination 8 8
In-house – customer service 11 14
In-house – conduct 80 47
Staff – conduct (other than in-house lawyer) 15 11
Policy or administrative processes 11 8
Private lawyer – conduct 38* 9*
Private lawyer – section 41 1 3
Private lawyer – complaints about Legal Aid NSW 2 1
Independent Children’s Lawyer – conduct 15 18
Mediator – conduct 8 11
Funding allocations 2 1
Other 28 26
To be determined 18 6
Total complaints273182

*In 2020–21 the Private Lawyer Quality Standards Unit took over the management of complaints about private lawyers.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will integrate LawAccess NSW into the complaints management system and provide training to staff on handling complaints and feedback.