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Annual Report 2021 - 2022

What we did over the past year

This year was the fourth under our five-year strategic plan. The Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018–2023 clearly sets our direction, detailing how we will target our resources in the face of growing demand for our services and how we will develop and support our staff.

Services for flood-affected communities

In February and March 2022 at least 60 local government areas across NSW were impacted by severe flooding. The Commonwealth Government allocated more than $3 million to legal assistance providers in NSW to support people affected by the floods.

Four community legal centres (CLCs) were awarded Flood Assistance Support funding to increase their capacity to provide legal assistance to the people and communities that need it most. Northern Rivers CLC and Western Sydney CLC are local, generalist services in impacted areas. Justice Connect and the Tenants’ Union of NSW are specialist services that will provide extra assistance in their areas of law.

CLCs responded quickly to provide services at Disaster Recovery Centres and in communities that were still accessible. Mobile services were provided by travelling lawyers and virtual services increased to help meet increased demand. As a result of the funding boost, CLCs will employ more lawyers and non-legal staff such as social workers to help people and connect them with pro bono legal services. CLCs will also continue to work in collaboration with our Disaster Response Legal Service to ensure clients have access to the services they need.

One Legal Aid – making it easier and faster for people in NSW to get legal help

We know that people receive an excellent legal service when they get to the right place within Legal Aid NSW. We also know that we can be confusing to navigate, and that people often need to tell their story multiple times. Clients can be bounced around, forced to wait, or receive varied levels of service based on where they are in NSW.

As a result of the culmination of work from our strategic plan, we launched a new client service model this year to address these issues – One Legal Aid. All clients approaching Legal Aid NSW or LawAccess NSW are now triaged in the same way, and their details are entered in a new integrated intake record. Their information follows them through the system, reducing the need for them to repeat their details.

Our new booking system allows any staff member to book the client into any advice clinic across the state. This means that client intake and bookings all happen in the first phone call. This gives certainty to the client and reduces the number of phone calls they need to make.

A new Statewide Advice Team (SWAT) is also available to provide legal advice by phone to eligible clients not able to be serviced by a Legal Aid NSW office.

Establishing LawAccess NSW as the first point of call

Aligning our triage system via One Legal Aid recognises and elevates LawAccess NSW as the starting point to access legal help in NSW, and to access services from Legal Aid NSW.

LawAccess NSW now uses the same booking system as Legal Aid NSW offices, allowing information officers who speak to clients on the phone and via webchat to:

  • identify appropriate referrals to services based on location and matter type
  • provide an SMS or email to the customer with service details or information to empower the customer to take the next step in resolving their legal issue, or
  • find and book the next suitable appointment at a Legal Aid NSW Office.

LawAccess NSW integrated with Legal Aid NSW

LawAccess NSW has continued to leverage its integration with Legal Aid NSW to improve outcomes for people who need legal help.
This year, LawAccess NSW:

  • assisted 130,052 customers via its telephone service
  • assisted 13,040 customers via its webchat service
  • received over 1.4 million visitors to the LawAccess NSW website
  • averaged a 4:53 minute wait time to speak to an information officer over the phone, and
  • averaged a one-minute wait time to speak to an information officer on webchat.

Rachael Thomas, Mark Speakman and Ma’ata Solofoni

Rachael Thomas, Solicitor in Charge at our Lismore Office, Attorney General Mark Speakman and Ma’ata Solofoni, Senior Solicitor Disaster Response Legal Service.

Elizabeth Lehmann and Ma’ata Solofoni

Elizabeth Lehmann, civil law solicitor, and Ma’ata Solofoni, Senior Solicitor Disaster Response Legal Service, at the Mullumbimby Disaster Recovery Centre in March.

Lachlan Lugg and Alexandra Rumore

LawAccess NSW Information Officer Lachlan Lugg and Legal Aid NSW Senior Solicitor Alexandra Rumore.

Matt Hazard

Fairfield solicitor Matt Hazard at the Wiseman’s Ferry Disaster Recovery Centre.