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Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project Evaluation Report


  1. Summary
  2. Overview of project
  3. Basis of initial needs identification
  4. Operation of the project
    1. Roles of organisations involved
    2. Targeted regions and timeframe
    3. Training of volunteer solicitors
    4. Eligibility criteria
    5. Referral process
    6. Promotion of the project
  5. Quantitative analysis: Matters referred to the project
  6. Qualitative analysis: Stakeholder evaluations
    1. Evaluation from clients
    2. Evaluation from referring solicitors
  7. Appropriateness of project for the target community
    1. Involvement of Aboriginal workers and elders is crucial in designing and planning a service targeting Aboriginal people
    2. Importance of a long lead-in time and continuity of service
    3. Family law is not the primary concern for targeted clients
    4. Clients’ family law needs extended beyond affidavit drafting
    5. Referring solicitors lacked confidence in volunteer solicitors’ ability to draft complex and timely affidavits in family law proceedings
    6. Long distance and telephone communication may not always be appropriate for Aboriginal clients
  8. Changes in legal aid funding and service delivery
  9. Indirect outcomes of the project
Attachments
  1. Project timeline
  2. Inquiries and referrals made to the project
  3. Statistical breakdown of referrals and inquiries
  4. Client evaluation form
  5. Referring solicitor evaluation form

1. Summary

The Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project aimed to address a perceived need for affidavit drafting in family law matters for Aboriginal women in the Walgett region.

The project was developed through a partnership between Women’s Legal Service NSW (WLS) and the Law Society of NSW with a grant from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW (LJF). The Law Society engaged a project coordinator to coordinate the project through liaison with private firms and practitioners for referrals, and to provide document and administrative support.

The project was initially designed to operate for 6 months from 1 January 2006 in the Walgett Local Government area but was later extended for another 6 months and to other areas in regional NSW.

Volunteer solicitors based in Sydney were trained to draft affidavits for family law matters, with instructions taken over the telephone. Aboriginal women with children’s family law matters were to be referred by WLS solicitors based in the Walgett Family Violence Prevention Legal Service (FVPLS), and later by solicitors based in other FVPLSs and community legal centres (CLCs), where the project offered the best option for the client.

In total, 19 inquiries were made to the project and eight matters were referred for affidavits over the 12 month period. The number of matters referred to the project did not meet the expected demand. However, valuable lessons were learned through this pilot project.

This report identifies some factors that may account for these low numbers that should be considered when planning future projects. These include that:
  • there is a need to involve Aboriginal workers and elders in designing and planning a service targeting Aboriginal people (section 7.1);
  • a long lead-in time and continuity of service is important (section 7.2);
  • using the legal system to address family law problems is not the primary concern for the targeted clients (section 7.3);
  • the client’s family law needs extended beyond affidavit drafting and it is difficult to separate out this component from the other aspects of a family law matter (section 7.4);
  • referring solicitors lacked confidence in volunteer solicitors’ ability to draft complex and timely affidavits in family law proceedings (section 7.5);
  • long distance and telephone communication may not always be appropriate (section 7.6); and
  • ongoing evaluation of the needs of the target audience and the availability of alternative services would have better informed the project delivery (section 8).

Other lessons learnt during the operations of the project include:
  • it is important to have a memorandum of understanding when delivering joint services (section 4.1); and
  • there is a high level of interest among Sydney lawyers in assisting Aboriginal women (section 4.3).

There were also positive outcomes that may be attributed, at least in part, to the project, including increased referrals to legal aid services and greater awareness among city lawyers of the gap in legal services for Aboriginal women from remote and regional areas and (see section 9).

2. Overview of project

The Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project originated from an identified need in the Walgett region to assist Aboriginal women in family law matters. Many interim orders in family law matters for residence and contact with children are decided on the documents filed. In view of the geographical isolation and the application of conflict of interest rules of lawyers, Aboriginal women have limited access to legal assistance, putting them at a disadvantage.

The project was developed through a partnership between WLS and the Law Society, with a grant from the LJF. A project coordinator was employed by the Law Society under the grant.

The project aimed to conduct a trial method of improving access to justice for Aboriginal women in rural and regional areas of NSW through providing remote access to Sydney solicitors to draft affidavits for family law matters. In doing so, the project sought to make use of solicitors’ skills in drafting affidavits by connecting them to Aboriginal women in need of family law assistance. The specific objectives of the project were to:
  • encourage and facilitate legal practitioners in Sydney to provide legal assistance in family law matters on a pro bono basis to Aboriginal women in regional NSW;
  • improve access to justice for economically and socially disadvantaged people namely an identified group of Aboriginal women in regional NSW; and
  • contribute towards developing a fairer and equitable justice system, which addresses the legal needs in our community.

A timeline of the project is at Attachment A.

3. Basis of initial needs identification

The project was proposed and developed following a meeting of CLCs and pro bono coordinators to address the gap in legal services provisions in family law for Aboriginal women in regional, remote and rural areas of NSW. Solicitors working in CLCs believed that there was a gap in service delivery in family law matters in the Central and Far West regions of NSW.

The needs identification was supported by statistics and information from the WLS Walgett FVPLS. However, some of the figures relating to client contacts on family law matters were misinterpreted, leading to a greater expectation of demand.

Research studies were also used in identifying a need for the project:
  • One study found that over the selected period of time Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people only made up 2.4 per cent of litigants before the Family Court and were unrepresented.1
  • Another study found that fewer than 25 per cent of family law children’s matters were legally aided, and that there was a significant decline in the number of solicitors willing to undertake legal aid work due to low legal aid rates, limited availability of legal aid grants and difficulties in dealing with LAC.2

While not expressly included in the grant application’s needs assessment, other studies and reports published around the same time support the CLCs’ and WLS’s perception that there was a need for legal assistance for Aboriginal women in family law matters in Walgett and regional NSW:
  • A LAC evaluation of another pilot program identified Walgett and Lightning Ridge as having a significant problem in providing representation in family law matters.3
  • A report by the LJF targeted Walgett as an area of interest as it was considered an area of cumulative socio-economic disadvantage with a relative high Indigenous population. The report also found that there was a high rate of inaction in response to legal problems and that Indigenous people tend to consult non-legal professionals or their family, friends for assistance rather than the traditional legal advisers. The study also identified family law as a common legal issue, with the occurrence of family related legal events being 2.1 times higher for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people.4

4. Operation of the project

4.1. Roles of organisations involved

The Law Society was responsible for coordinating the project through liaison with private firms and practitioners for referrals, and for document and administrative support, and employed a project coordinator to carry out this work. WLS was responsible for identifying and providing referrals to the coordinator for affidavit drafting, and for contacting other legal services with a view to promoting the use of the project through referrals.

Other stakeholders included other CLCs, FVPLSs and the ALS, who were all identified as a potential sources of referrals.
  • Lesson learned:
    While the partners worked well together, the project would have benefited from a memorandum of understanding clarifying the responsibilities of each organisation involved.

4.2. Targeted regions and timeframe

The project was initially designed to provide affidavit drafting assistance to Aboriginal women within the Walgett Local Government area for a 6 month period from 1 January to 30 June 2006. Walgett was initially targeted due to the well-established relationship between WLS and the Indigenous community in Walgett through the Walgett FVPLS, which is auspiced by WLS.

As the demand for the service was much lower than anticipated, the project expanded geographically in April 2006 to include other regional areas in NSW, such as Bourke, Brewarrina, Kempsey, Moree and Shoalcoast. These areas were selected because they were serviced by existing CLCs and FVPLSs.

The project was later extended for a further six months period as the initial timeframe presented difficulties in effectively assessing the needs and demands for the project.

4.3. Training of volunteer solicitors

The project was launched on 24 February 2005 when over 70 Sydney volunteer solicitors attended a training session on pro bono work and family law, affidavit drafting in family matters and cultural awareness in dealing with Aboriginal women.5 The number of solicitors volunteering far exceeded expectations. The solicitors who attended the training session had varying levels of exposure to, and experience with, family law; they ranged from newly admitted solicitors to accredited specialists in family law. A statistical analysis reveals the following attributes:
  • sex: 90% female, 10% male;
  • practice type: 86% private, 11% government, 3% corporate;
  • location of practice: 87% Sydney CBD, 10% Sydney suburban, 3% regional.

A follow-up training session took place on 24 October 2006 to provide an overview of the major changes to family law, which were in force from 1 July 2006.6 This training was restricted to solicitors who had attended the 2005 training session as this session did not repeat the cultural awareness training or the initial family law and drafting training, which were both viewed as essential aspects of the project. Ten solicitors attended this follow-up training and agreed to participate in the project. Two experienced family law solicitors also attended the training as mentors for the volunteer solicitors.7
  • Lesson learned:
    There was a high level of interest among Sydney lawyers in assisting Aboriginal women, particularly from women lawyers

4.4. Eligibility criteria

The following criteria was applied to referrals:
  • they were Aboriginal women;
  • their Family Law matter was a children’s matter;
  • the Pilot was the best option available to the client (for example, if the client was able to access legal aid or FVPLS representation then this option was pursued for the client, rather than the woman representing herself with the assistance of the project).

The eligibility criteria for the project did not include a means test as the project was to provide services for clients, who may fall through the legal services gaps. Further a merit test was not included as the referrals were designed to come from legal services, in which a basic means and merit test had already been conducted.

4.5. Referral process

The table below sets out the intended referral processes for the project.



4.6. Promotion of the project

Several strategies were adopted to promote the project. These included:
  • promoting the project within legal services such as CLCs, ALS, FVPLS, the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery project of Legal Aid NSW;
  • promotion to non-legal services such as the Aboriginal Medical Service, Local Libraries and their Legal Information and Access Centres in various regions in NSW, Women’s Refuges, Women’s Resource Centre, Police Aboriginal Liaison Officers, Local Councils and Aboriginal Land Councils;
  • Articles in the Law Society Journal8 and Indigenous Law Bulletin9 also promoted the project to the legal profession and the community.

It was believed that a high proportion of the population seek legal advice from diverse pathways rather than directly approaching legal services.10 This tendency was thought to be higher in Indigenous communities as they perceive government or legal services with distrust.

Promotion of the project was later directed at key organisations, namely FVPLSs, CLCs and ALSs within the target regions with the consent of the LJF and WLS.

5. Quantitative analysis: Matters referred to the project 11

There were 19 inquiries made to the project and eight matters referred to the project. A list of these inquiries and referrals is at Attachment B. Five referrals came from WLS and three came from other legal services.

The small number of inquiries and referrals limits the value of a quantitative analysis. A breakdown of inquiries and referrals has been included for information at Attachment C.

6. Qualitative analysis: Stakeholder evaluations

6.1. Evaluation from clients 12

An evaluation form for clients was prepared at the beginning of the project in consultation with the LJF. However due to small number of clients and the rate of return of these evaluation form, client evaluation will not form a part of this report, except in so far as they are referred to anecdotally.

6.2. Evaluation from referring solicitors 13

From Moree FVPLS
In a matter referred by Moree FVPLS, two affidavits were drafted by a Sydney solicitor responding to an application by the father of the children and the paternal grandmother. The referring solicitor expressed high level of satisfaction with the affidavits drafted and expressed that she would use the project again.

From WLS
The referring solicitors from WLS made the following comments:

On the number of referrals:
  • many clients were eligible for legal aid and were referred directly to LAC or to private solicitors who would help them apply for legal aid. This was the best option for the client;
  • some clients were referred to the ALS;
  • inquiries were made on behalf of two clients by one solicitor, but they both needed representation and not just assistance with an affidavit;
  • there were three matters from Walgett and Bourke which were urgent applications for recovery orders for the return of children, and they were not referred to the pilot because of their urgency.

On affidavits:
  • comment was provided on one affidavit – ‘the affidavit was of fair quality, but used old terminology (custody and access) and was in the wrong format (it was an interim affidavit, but did not use the pro forma required for interim matters)’.

On responsibility for files and work:
  • ‘It was unclear who would draft the applications and whether we should open a file without having carriage of the matter, or if we should take on carriage of the rest of the matter except for the affidavit drafting (which was effectively what happened).’
  • There are difficulties in ‘drafting the affidavit (volunteer solicitor) from taking instructions for the affidavit (referring solicitor) drafting the application (presumably the client?) making strategic decisions about the case (client with ad hoc advice?) and corresponding with the other side (presumably the client?).’

On client needs:
  • ‘If a client is essentially self-represented, only a small portion of their need for assistance is met by the drafting of the affidavit. Many, if not most of the clients I work with have many disadvantages that would prevent them from representing themselves effectively even if they have access to help drafting an affidavit.’
  • ‘For our Aboriginal clients, often more assistance is required than just an affidavit. It is more efficient and better for the client to have a family law solicitor who can help them with the applications, forms, give advice and represent them in court.’
  • ‘The affidavit is only one part of a family law application, and it still leaves the woman (who may have literacy issues) to complete the correct forms herself and self represent in court.’
  • ‘A lot of women would have difficulties discussing this sensitive subject matter over the phone with a solicitor who they haven’t met, and who they know is not going to continue to assist them with their case. There’s not always a problem with being a solicitor over the phone, but there’s a big difference where the client knows that you are going to be acting for them and that trust builds up over time.’

7. Appropriateness of project for the target community

Over the course of the project, it became apparent that there were some key factors that detracted from the project’s appropriateness for its target community. Some of these factors had also been identified at the outset of the project and the pilot has served to confirm them.

7.1. Involvement of Aboriginal workers and elders is crucial in designing and planning a service targeting Aboriginal people

Local Aboriginal workers and elders can provide invaluable input into project design and development. The needs of different communities can differ greatly, as can the notions of justice and desired outcomes. Early consultation with key people can assist in developing a culturally appropriate service. Such consultation can assist in identifying need, developing appropriate methods of service delivery and reaching clients. Some difficulties encountered with these aspects of the project are elaborated below.

7.2. Importance of a long lead-in time and continuity of service

Trust within the community is essential for the success of a project such as this one. Trust must be established with individual members of the community and with other service providers in the community. Legal services are rarely the first point of contact for clients.14 The commitment of key people within existing legal and non-legal services in the region who have worked to build a trust relationship with the indigenous community is crucial for encouraging women to make use of the legal services offered.

While networking and promotion was undertaken in non-legal services, the project would have benefited from a longer time period to allow for the development of a stronger network of non-legal professionals, including legal education for non-legal professionals and government and other community organisation employees to identify legal problems and act as a referral body.

In addition, strong community ties and trust are important to ensure that any suggested project is appropriate for the specific community, as there is no single solution to addressing issues in diverse Aboriginal communities.15

7.3. Family law is not the primary concern for targeted clients

The main areas of work for the WLS solicitors in Walgett are domestic violence, care and protection and victim’s compensation. Where family law matters did arise, this was often in relation to urgent recovery cases that needed to be completed on the spot.

In the WLS solicitors’ experience, Aboriginal women in Walgett generally have informal arrangements in respect of parenting matters. Despite some dissatisfaction with these informal arrangements, many of these women do not pursue a legal arrangement.16 The underlying factors for reluctance is multi-faceted and may include domestic violence, different family structure, costs, distrust of legal system and law enforcement agencies.

The solicitors observed that Aboriginal women were reluctant to alter the status quo due to violence and other domestic issues. The presence of physical violence may be a contributing factor in Aboriginal women being under represented in family law interim order application processes. Some of the magistrates sitting on the regional circuit noted that it is rare to have Aboriginal women making an application for an interim order concerning ‘living with’ and ‘spending time with’ their children.

Nevertheless, there was still some demand for family law affidavit drafting in the Walgett area. However, this demand was not great enough to require the services provided by a project of this size. It is possible that a sufficient demand does exist across a broader region, such as all of NSW.

7.4. Clients’ family law needs extended beyond affidavit drafting

Where family law matters did arise, affidavit drafting was not perceived as the most appropriate solution for many clients. The affidavit forms only one part of a family law application. The project model relied on the client, who may have literacy issues, completing forms herself and self-representing in court. Such a model does not meet the family law needs of a lot of women in remote NSW.

An outreach service by experienced Family Law Accredited Specialists to remote communities on a regular basis may have provided a more comprehensive and sought after service. The outreach service could combine community legal education for the local women and have the solicitor present at those education sessions, where the women may be able to obtain legal advice and pursue further action. The solicitor could provide advice, affidavit drafting and representation for the client.

7.5. Referring solicitors lacked confidence in volunteer solicitors’ ability to draft complex and timely affidavits in family law proceedings

Family law affidavits can be extremely complex. They also form one of the most significant aspects of a family law matter before the court because the orders sought cannot be obtained unless supported by admissible form of evidence in affidavit.

Solicitors from some legal services raised concerns about the adequacy of skills of the Sydney based volunteer solicitors. They were also concerned that affidavits for interim order applications may not be delivered in a timely manner.

To counter this concern, experienced family lawyers were asked to mentor the panel of volunteer solicitors after they had been trained at the Law Society. Nevertheless, the lack of confidence in volunteers’ skills may have been a factor in the low number of referrals.

7.6. Long distance and telephone communication may not always be appropriate for Aboriginal clients

As mentioned above, trust within the community is fundamental to the success of a project such as this one. In this respect, the project relied heavily upon the existing good relationships of WLS solicitors with the Aboriginal communities in Walgett.

Linking Aboriginal women with private solicitors over the telephone did not assist in furthering the trust within the community. A WLS FVPLS solicitor suggested that a lot of her clients would have difficulties discussing a sensitive family law matter with a solicitor, whom they hadn’t met, over the telephone. The solicitor suggested that in order for telephone advice with Aboriginal women clients to work, a relationship of trust with the client needed to be built up over time. The client knowing that the solicitor will continue to act for them could aid this.

8. Changes in legal aid funding and service delivery

Legal aid funding changed dramatically over the 10 years from 1997 to 2007. Due to delays in getting the project started, the needs identification and early development of the project took place during and immediately following a decrease in legal aid funding, while the execution of the project occurred following an increase in funding.

Commonwealth funding to the LAC decreased by approximately 25 per cent between the 1996/97 and 1997/98 financial years. Commonwealth funding slowly increased from 1997/98 until it reached the 1996/97 rates again in 2003/04. State input grants also increased steadily over this time, with significant increases of approximately one-third and two-fifths in 2001/2002 and 2003/2004.17

During and immediately following the time of decreased funding, several studies (such as those referred to above in section 3) identified an increase in the number of self-represented litigants and a decrease in the availability of private lawyers willing to take on legal aid matters. Such studies corresponded with the experiences of CLC and FPVLS solicitors, who struggled to find private lawyers in areas such as Walgett to take on family law matters, even where legal aid funding was available.

Following the increase in funding, just as the project was becoming operational, there was an increase in the number of private firms doing legal aid work in areas such as Walgett.18 This was also the case in the Shoalcoast area where the local CLC indicated that while they had previously encountered serious difficulties in finding solicitors who would accept legal aid funded family law referrals, they no longer experienced such difficulties due to the opening of a LAC office in Nowra and an increase in private solicitors doing legal aid work.

In the WLS Walgett FPVLS, the number of clients seen in relation to child residency and contact issues19 dropped from 31 in 2003 to 13 in 2006. While it is difficult to identify the causes for this decrease, it is possible that it correlates to an increase in the availability of legal aid for these matters in the region.

The eligibility criteria for referrals included the requirement that the project be the best option available to the client. Legally aided representation was generally considered a better option for clients than the option the project offered, that is, self-representation with affidavit assistance. As such, it is likely that an increase in the availability of legal aid grants and representation would result in a decrease in appropriate referrals to the project.
  • Lesson learned
    Given the delays in developing and commencing the project, the project would have benefited from ongoing evaluation of the context in which it was implemented, particularly with respect to availability of alternative services.

9. Indirect outcomes of the project

There are a number of positive outcomes that may be attributed, at least in part, to the project:
  • Higher awareness among city lawyers of the gap in legal services for Aboriginal women from remote and regional areas.
  • Greater awareness of, and more referrals to, the Law Society Pro Bono Scheme: interagency meetings raised the scheme’s profile, and the scheme subsequently received a number of referrals from WLS’ Bourke office.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance issues for volunteer solicitors was resolved: following concern raised by the federal Attorney-General’s Department, the project coordinator negotiated with the department to obtain further financial support for a higher level of insurance cover if required by NSW FVPLSs to ensure that their services could accommodate volunteer solicitors.


Attachment A: Project timeline

Nov 2004Application for grant made jointly by WLS and the Law Society.
24 Feb 2005Project launched at Law Society and first training session held.
Mar 2005Grant approved.
17 Apr 2005Grant agreement signed.
15 Dec 2005Project coordinator on board.
10 Jan 2006Project outline submitted to LJF.
Jan-Mar 2006Project coordinator and WLS developed stragies and networked to promote the project.
12-14 Feb 2006Project coordinator travelled to Walgett and Lightening Ridge.
Apr-Jun 2006Promotional material disseminated to a wide range of service providers, including Aboriginal Medical Services, Local Court magistrates and registrars and other community organisations.
19 May 2006First project report sent to LJF.
23 Jun 2006Project coordinator and Law Society Pro Bono Solicitor travelled to Bourke.
May-Jun 2006Telephone interviews with stakeholders to assess current and projected demand for the project in regional NSW: results demonstrated strong support for the concept with several stakeholders expressing a willingness to use the project when the need arose.
30 Jun 2006Extension of time sought to explore the project further: initial timeframe of 6 months presented difficulties in effectively assessing the needs and demands for the project.
21 Jul 2006Second progress report forwarded to LJF.
28 Sep 2006Extension of time granted.
19 Oct 2006Second (extension) grant agreement signed.
1 Mar 2007Third project report forwarded to LJF.


Attachment B: Inquiries and referrals made to the project

08/03/2005Referral from WLS for a client in Lightning Ridge.
19/05/2005Referral from Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre.
03/02/2006Referral from WLS for a client in Maitland. Two affidavits were drawn for this client by a pro bono solicitor.
22/03/2006Project Coordinator was approached by a community worker from a community organisation (Uniting Burnside Care) in Port Macquarie with 2 clients. The clients were then directed to contact the WLS Indigenous Women’s Legal Contact Line and they were referred to Many Rivers Family Violence Prevention Service in Kempsey, who organised referrals to local solicitors undertaking Legal Aid work.
07/07/2006Project Coordinator was approached by a community worker from Bega Women’s Resource Centre with a client. The client has been directed to contact the WLS Indigenous Women’s Legal Contact Line.
21/07/2006Project Coordinator was approached by a solicitor from Western NSW Community Legal Centre with a client requiring family law assistance in drafting affidavits for Residence Contact with her children. However, this client is non-Aboriginal and the matter was in Queensland. Therefore, the project is unable to assist her.
25/07/2006Project Coordinator was approached by an Aboriginal elder from Taree regarding a matter concerning her grand-daughter. The matter was care and protection in nature and advised the client to contact WLS or ALS. ALS assisted the client and the client was happy with the outcome.
11/08/2006Referral from Lyndal Gowland, Thiyama-li Family Violence Prevention Legal Service, Moree Matter was referred to a pro bono solicitor.
24/10/2006Telephone inquiry was received from WLS. However the matter was not a family law matter and the client was directed to access the pro bono scheme at the Law Society instead.
11/01/2007Two inquiries were received from WLS for clients in Bourke and Albury. However these inquiries did not result in referrals for the project.
22/02/2007Referral from WLS for a client in Walgett and referred to a pro bono solicitor for affidavit drafting.
22/02/2007Referral from WLS for a client in Walgett and referred to a pro bono solicitor for affidavit drafting.
13/03/2007Referral from WLS for a client in Lightning Ridge and referred to a pro bono solicitor for affidavit drafting.
14/05/2007Referral from Moree FVPLS for a client in More and referred to a pro bono solicitor for affidavit drafting.


Attachment C: Statistical breakdown of referrals and inquiries

Source of referrals and inquiries
Organisation No. of InquiryPercentageNo. of Referral to the ProjectPercentage
WLS947.3%562.5%
CLCs210.5%112.5%
FVPLS 315.8%225.0%
ALS 00%00%
Community Organisation4 21.1%00%
Others15.3%00%
Total 19100%8100%

Age of clients
18 – 2324 – 2930 – 35 Over 35Not Available
Number of clients 3112

Location
Area No. of InquiryPercentageNo. of Referral to the ProjectPercentage
Walgett/Lightning Ridge527.8%457.1%
Bourke / Brewarrina15.6%00%
Dubbo422.2%114.3%
Moree 15.6%00%
Far North Coast2 11.1%00%
South Coast316.7%114.3%
Other regions 211.1%114.3%
Total 18100%7100%


Attachment D: Client evaluation form

FAMILY LAW AFFIDAVIT PILOT PROJECT
Legal Assistance for Indigenous Women

PRIVACY STATEMENT
This survey is being conducted as part of a project to improve access to legal services, especially in regional and disadvantaged communities across NSW. The information collected in this survey will be kept CONFIDENTIAL and will ONLY be used for this project in improving access to legal services.

Date
/ /
Client Details
Post Code



Referring Agency
Interpreter / Facilitator Details (Please complete this section if an interpreter was used to complete this form)
Language

Agency


1. Did you have legal assistance before applying to this service?
Community Legal Centres Private Lawyers Others (Please specify)

Legal Aid Law Access

2. How did you find out about this service?



3. Did the Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project provide you with an Affidavit(s) through the service?

Yes No

4. If yes, was that Affidavit(s) used in Court?

Yes No (If no, what was the reason?)



Please Turn Over…
Page 1



5. What Orders were you seeking?




6. What Orders did the Court make?





Outcome

7. (a) Do you feel that the Affidavit helped to explain your case to the Court?

Yes No

(b) Why or Why Not?





8. How satisfied are you with the service provided? (Please tick an appropriate box)

Very HelpfulHelpfulNeither Helpful
Nor unhelpful
Not HelpfulNot at all Helpful

9. Do you have any suggestions to improve our service?


Attachment E: Referring solicitor evaluation form

CONFIDENTIAL REFERRRING SOLICITOR’S FEEDBACK FORM

This survey is being conducted as part of a project to improve access to legal services, especially in regional and disadvantaged communities across NSW. The information collected in this survey will be kept CONFIDENTIAL and will ONLY be used for evaluation of this project. Your name and firm details will NOT be disclosed for other purposes.

FAMILY LAW AFFIDAVIT PILOT PROJECT
LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR INDIGENEOUS WOMEN

Solicitor Details
Name



Date
/ /
Agency


Contact Details
Client Details
Post Code

10. How did you first find out about the Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project?

Combined CLC meeting Other Solicitors Others (Please Specify)

Law Society Website Law Society Journal

Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project Brochure

11. Does your agency have Family Law practice?

Yes No


12. What made you decide to use the Family Law Affidavit Pilot Project?


13. What is your main area of practice?


14. Have you had any experience with Family Law? If so, please specify the number of years / whether you are an Accredited Specialist in Family Law


Please Turn Over…
Page 1


15. What mode of communication did you use with the client?
      Face-to-Face Appointment Telephone Interview

16. If you used telephone interview with your client as a main communication tool, what prevented face-to-face appointment?



17. Did you need an Interpreter / Facilitator to communicate with the client?
      Yes No

If yes, what kind of interpreting service did you use?


18. Was the affidavit(s) drafted used in Court? Why or Why not?




19. Do you think that the Pilot Project assisted your client in obtaining favourable outcome?




20. How satisfied are you, as a referring solicitor, with the service provided? (Please tick an appropriate box)
Very HelpfulHelpfulNeither Helpful
Nor unhelpful
Not HelpfulNot at all Helpful

21. Would you use the Pilot Project in the future? Why or Why not?




22. Do you have any suggestions to improve our service?


Footnotes
  1. Rosemary Hunter, Jeff Giddings and April Chrzanowski, Legal Aid and Self-Representation in the Family Court of Australia, Socio-Legal Research Centre, Griffith University, May 2003, 38.
  2. Rosemary Hunter et al, Legal Services in Family Law, Justice Research Centre, December 2003.
  3. Legal Aid Commission of NSW. Evaluation of the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Model (CLSDM) Pilot, August 2005.
  4. Christine Coumarelos, Zhigang Wei and Albert Z Zhou, Justice Made to Measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas, Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales, March 2006.
  5. Catherine Carney (WLS), Pro Bono and Family Law; Justice Gary Watts, How to draft a Family Law Affidavit; Rene Adams (WLS), Cultural Awareness: presented at Law Society of NSW, Sydney, 24 February 2005.
  6. Janet Loughman (WLS), Family Law chances: Family Law (Shared Parental Responsibility Act 2006; Paul Lewis and Jacqueline Dawson (Robyn Sexton & Associates), Affidavits in Family Law: presented at Law Society of NSW, Sydney, 24 October 2006.
  7. Jacqueline Vincent, an accredited Family Law Specialist, and Emma Rahemtula, Watts McCray Lawyers.
  8. (2006) 44(2) Law Society Journal 21.
  9. (2006) 6(17) Indigenous Law Bulletin 2.
  10. As was found in the Justice Made to Measure report, above n 4.
  11. The project accepted referrals as soon as the training had been completed in February, 2005 and prior to the funding grant approval and employment of the project co-ordinator. Due to staff turnover and lack of early record keeping we are not able to provide details of the outcomes of the early referrals.
  12. Evaluation form is at Attachment D.
  13. Evaluation form is at Attachment E.
  14. Justice Made to Measure found that more than half of Aboriginal people do not respond to legal events, with more than three-quarters of participants using only non-legal advisors. The most commonly used advisers were non-legal professionals (20.1%), government organisation (11.8%) and friends or relatives who are not lawyers (11.5%): above n 4, 104.
  15. This also raised in New South Wales Interagency Plan to Tackle Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities 2006 – 2011, 5.
  16. This is supported by the research reported in Justice Made to Measure, which found that only 38.8% of the Indigenous population surveyed sought help compared with 52.1% of those non-Indigenous: above n 4, 97.
  17. National Legal Aid, Finance, 12 September 2006, <http://www.nla.aust.net.au/category.php?id=9> at 30 May 2008.
  18. On 12 April 2007, The Law Society of NSW Solicitor Referral Service database listed 15 private firms in the Walgett region and nine private firms in Bourke as being prepared to accept referrals on the basis of a grant of legal aid work in family law matters. However, in both regions, the distance between the client and the location of legal service providers presented difficulties for the efficient delivery of legal services. For example, despite 9 firms listed as doing Legal Aid work in the Bourke region, there was no firm doing legal aid family law work in Bourke itself.
  19. Problem types include child residency, parenting plan, parental abduction, specific issues, taking child overseas, and child contacts or contact orders.


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