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Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program

The Cooperative Legal Service Delivery (CLSD) Program comprises regionally-based partnerships between legal and related non-legal services that aim to improve access to legal services for disadvantaged people in regional and remote NSW. CLSD Program partnerships aim to better target the needs of disadvantaged  people, improve coordination of legal services and  extend regional capacity through cooperation.

The CLSD partnerships operate on the premise that disadvantaged people with multiple and complex legal and other needs and low legal capability ideally require integrated or joined-up legal and non-legal services to successfully negotiate barriers to justice. It also works on the theory  that better coordination and cooperation in the  planning and delivery of legal services will enhance the efficient and effective use of scarce resources and improve access to justice for disadvantaged people. The CLSD Program aims for continuous improvements to service delivery through better  alignment of planning, program design and service delivery within and across the legal and related sectors covered by the Program.

There are currently 12 CLSD partnerships across regional NSW, each with a funded CLSD Program Regional Coordinator based at a local organisation. The CLSD Program  Unit based in Sydney provides administrative and strategic support to the CLSD Program partnerships across NSW.

Map showing locations of CLSD Coordinators

CLSD Program partnerships typically include representatives from Legal Aid NSW regional offices, Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Local Courts, tenancy, domestic violence, youth, disability and financial counselling agencies,  local community,neighbourhood and settlement services  as well as private and pro bono legal services, government departments, health services and local libraries.

Each of the 12 CLSD Program partnerships determine service priorities by drawing on local empirical data and demographics to help identify local legal needs and gaps in legal and related non-legal services. The CLSD Program administers funding to support each of the partnerships, and funds  collaborative,needs-based projects.

The programs three main objectives are to ensure that:

  • economically and socially disadvantaged people are able to efficiently and effectively access legal services which can help them to understand, protect and enforce their legal rights and interests
  • consideration is given to legal need and equity in the provision of legal services and resources and
  • planning and delivery of legal services is approached in a coordinated and cooperative manner between service providers.

How does the CLSD Program work?

The CLSD Program is centred around the following elements.

Regional coalitions of legal service providers and community organisations

Potential CLSD Program locations are identified on the basis of socio-demographic indicators of high disadvantage, availability, location and accessibility of legal services and transport considerations.

Each region establishes a regional coalition or partnership made up of representatives  from key legal services and community organisations in the area. Legal Aid NSW provides funding to a CLSD Program Regional Coordination Service in each region, and each Service employs a CLSD Program Regional Coordinator.

Regional partnerships meet face-to-face four times a year to exchange information, identify service delivery priorities for their region and to develop and implement strategic plans and projects including outreach clinics, community legal education and training to address priorities and unmet need.

While the CLSD Program Unit provides central coordination, each CLSD region is largely autonomous and outputs are responsive to locally identified issues. Part-time Regional Coordinators are appointed to each region to facilitate coordination at the local level.

CLSD Program Regional Coordinators

Each CLSD Program partnership has a local CLSD Program Regional Coordinator. The Regional Coordinators provide secretariat support to each partnership, organises the quarterly meetings, and are the "go-to" person for each region.

The CLSD Program Unit works closely with the CLSD Regional Coordinators, and hosts and convenes a CLSD Regional Coordinators Workshop in Sydney each year.

Contacts for each of the CLSD Program Regional Coordinators and dates for CLSD regional meetings are available here.

Contact details of CLSD Regional Coordinators and CLSD regional meeting details

CLSD Program Regional Partnership Factsheets

Improved referrals between service providers

One of CLSD Program aims is to get disadvantaged people off the referral merry-go-round. It does this by increasing awareness and exchange of information about services and by developing mechanisms and strategies to improve referrals. The CLSD Program is also working with other justice agencies  to  improve referrals from non-legal service providers to the most appropriate legal service provider. We have been using the 'Law Check-up" as a means of providing local community legal education on raising awareness of legal problems and the availability of local and state-wide legal services  to  assist each region's disadvantaged clients.

Improved access to pro bono legal services

One of the aims of CLSD Program is to facilitate better access to pro bono assistance through Sydney-based firms with established pro bono practices, better coordination with pro bono referral schemes or harnessing closer relationships with local law firms and regional law societies. Apart from taking  referrals, firms may also provide administrative support, training and community legal education. The CLSD Program has leveraged significant support from our pro bono partners, all to the benefit of disadvantaged people in regional, rural and remote NSW.

Evidence-based planning of legal services

CLSD Program partners adopt an evidence-based approach to developing projects and services that meet local emerging legal needs. Partners aim to coordinate more effective and collaborative outreach services, improve client referrals between agencies, develop new client resources and CLE (Community Legal  Education) based  on the identified needs of their communities.

The CLSD Program Unit works with each CLSD Program partnership to develop local two-year Action Plans based on a local Regional Profile. The Regional Profile includes detailed demographic data, legal service usage, crime and fines data on legal needs and gaps. The Regional Profiles and Action Plans  determine the priorities areas that CLSD Program partners will focus on. The CLSD Program Unit works closely with the Law & Justice Foundation of NSW to analyse data on service usage and explore and implement service planning and delivery  strategies to ensure services are targeted, appropriate, timely and joined-up.

Central coordination through Legal Aid NSW

The CLSD Program is centrally managed and coordinated by the CLSD Program Unit based at Legal Aid NSW. The Unit assists regional coalitions to develop and monitor projects and strategic plans. Through the partnerships, the Unit is able to give a voice to local regional issues by raising them at a broader  level: information  on identified gaps in services and emerging and systemic issues are fed back to Legal Aid NSW Head Office, the NSW Legal Assistance Forum, the Law & Justice Foundation and LawAccess NSW. The CLSD Program Unit also manages funding for CLSD projects and liaises with justice  agencies to facilitate  outreach to CLSD Program regions.

The CLSD Program is guided by a Steering Committee which provides advice and guidance on the progress of the Program.The Steering Committee includes representatives from CLCs, the ALS, the Law & Justice Foundation of NSW, LawAccess NSW, the Tenants Union, the NSW Legal Assistance Forum, the Law  Society of NSW, pro bono law firms, JusticeConnect, financial counselling services and the State Library (Legal Information Access Centres).


Through working together, CLSD Program partners have attracted additional resources, enabling agencies to extend services to meet emerging legal needs. Partners have developed targeted community legal education sessions, improved client referrals between agencies, developed new resources, provided training  and capacity-building  initiatives.

Government agencies such as Ombudsman and complaints services are increasingly leveraging the CLSD Program networks to promote awareness of and access to their services across regional NSW.

CLSD Program partners are working together on cooperative projects such as legal advice and  information "road-shows" and joint outreach advice clinics to less well-serviced regional areas. The CLSD Program is also well-placed to report on unmet needs in regional NSW and identify systemic  legal issues for consideration at a peak level. The CLSD Program Unit sits on various Committees including the NSW Legal Assistance Forum and its Working Groups, the Indigenous Issues Committee at the Law Society of NSW and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Consumer Consultative  Forum.

CLSD program projects

The CLSD Program Unit administers a small funding pool for collaborative projects. In 2015-6 the CLSD Program partners engaged over 50 projects in regional, rural and remote NSW. CLSD Program initiatives included community legal education, duty clinics, development of legal resources, workshops, trainingandoutreach  advice  services.


Public and private legal, non-legal, government and NGO agencies participate in CLSD Program partnerships. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Legal Aid NSW regional offices
  • Aboriginal Legal Service regional offices
  • Community Legal Centres*Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
  • Law Society of NSW and Regional Law Societies
  • Local Courts
  • Domestic and family violence services including
  • Financial counselling services
  • Family Relationship Centres and Family Law Pathways Networks
  • Tenancy services
  • Disability and disability advocacy services
  • Youth Services
  • Migrant community groups/resource centres
  • Community Justice Centres
  • Legal Information Access Centres in regional public libraries
  • Neighbourhood services
  • Government agencies including Fair Trading NSW, Office of State Revenue, the Anti-Discrimination Board, Centrelink, the Child Support Agency, Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the NSW Ombudsman and the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  • Dispute resolution bodies including the Energy & Water Ombudsman of NSW and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
  • Pro bono law firms including Ashurst, Clayton Utz, Gilbert + Tobin, Sparke Helmore

CLSD Program e-update

From time to time, the CLSD Program Unit publishes an e-update that contains information about CLSD Program projects, Legal Aid NSW news, and news from the justice sector generally. The e-update is distributed to hundreds of organisations across regional NSW.

Old editions of e-update are available here

Archived versions

Evaluation of the CLSD Program

The 2012 evaluation of the CLSD Program was undertaken by Penny Ryan and Kitty Ray, Social Policy & Evaluation Consultants. The Evaluation assessed the effectiveness of  the  CLSD model and to provide recommendations as to how the program could best continue to develop.

The Evaluation found:

"The CLSD Program is viewed as a very successful program by central agency stakeholders interviewed for this evaluation. The CLSD regional network provides other central agency program areas with points of contact in regional NSW as well as providing on the ground information about needs and developments. The Central Program Unit is perceived as highly effective given the program's size, and as influential in raising and progressing systemic issues."

Contacting the CLSD Program Unit

If you would like to discuss the CLSD Program, please contact Jenny Lovric, Manager CLSD Program on 02 9219 5102 or jenny.lovric@legalaid.nsw.gov.au