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Research Report:
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A6: advice for legal problems

Table A6.1: Regression results — number of advisers, Australia

VariableCategories compared
SEpIncident rate ratio (95% CI)
Problem groupAccidents | mean
Consumer | mean
Credit/debt | mean
Crime | mean
Employment | mean
Family | mean
Government | mean
Health | mean
Housing | mean
Money | mean
Personal injury | mean
Rights | mean
Note: N=9783 problems where sought advice. P values for significant comparisons are presented in bold.

Table A6.2: Free legal services provided by not-for-profit organisations, all jurisdictions
ALSs provide comprehensive legal advice, representation and referrals to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in culturally appropriate ways. These services are available within all states and territories and across city, regional and remote locations.

Legal information, advice and referralb
Free legal information, advice and referral are available. Some ALSs provide these services for a wide range of legal issues, while others target specific types of legal issues (e.g. women’s issues, family violence).

Legal representation
Free legal representation is available for specified areas of law. Legal representation is typically available for criminal matters and for care and protection matters. Some ALSs provide legal representation for other civil and family matters. In some cases, payment for a private lawyer may be provided.

Further information
Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Queensland)
Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Inc.
Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Inc.
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Inc.
Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency
Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service Inc.
CLCs are independent not-for-profit community organisations that typically provide free legal services to disadvantaged people and communities. CLCs are located throughout Australia in city, regional and remote locations. Some CLCs provide ‘generalist’ services for a broad range of legal issues and demographic groups, in particular geographical areas. Others offer ‘specialist’ services in specific areas of law (e.g. credit/debt, welfare rights and tenancy) or for particular demographic groups (e.g. children and young people, women and older people).

Legal information, advice and referralb
CLCs provide free legal information, advice and referral to the people or communities they service. Some CLCs operate legal advice telephone hotlines. As independent organisations, CLCs set their own eligibility criteria for the provision of free or low-cost legal advice. For example, some CLCs use eligibility criteria based on area of law or socioeconomic disadvantage.

Legal representation
Legal representation is provided by some CLCs where clients satisfy any merit or funding criteria used by the individual centre.

Further information
National Association of CLCs
Court services
Some courts offer free legal services to members of the general public, often in relation to court matters.

Legal information, advice and referralb
Free legal information, advice and referral are provided by some courts in some jurisdictions. Court staff may provide information and assistance with court procedures and the preparation of documents. For example, a unique feature of the court system in NSW is the long-established chamber service, where many local courts have a registrar or deputy registrar available to provide information and assistance to the public.

Legal representation
Legal representation is not provided.

Further information
LawAccess NSW
LawAccess NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referral and, in some cases, advice. LawAccess NSW services are typically provided for NSW residents but are occasionally provided for other people when the matter concerns the laws of NSW. It acts as a legal triage hotline that canvasses a wide range of legal matters and often directs clients to specialist public legal services or private lawyers.

Legal information, advice and referralb
Free legal information and referral are available either over the telephone or via the LawAccess NSW website. Legal advice is provided in some cases where the matter is suitable for telephone advice and has high priority according to LawAccess NSW guidelines. For example, priority for legal advice is given for certain specified areas of law (e.g. criminal law, debt and credit, family law, domestic and family violence, wills, power of attorney, enduring guardianship, consumer law, neighbourhood disputes, fines and traffic offences, employment law and motor vehicle accidents), for particular disadvantaged groups (e.g. people living in regional, rural or remote areas, Indigenous people, people with a disability, and people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background) and for people with urgent legal problems (e.g. people who are distressed, at risk of harm, in custody or in prison, and people who have had difficulty obtaining assistance elsewhere).

Legal representation
Legal representation is not provided.

Further information
Legal Aida
Legal Aid provides legal services to the community, often with a focus on assisting socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Legal services are typically available for criminal, family and some civil law matters. Legal Aid provides services in all states/territories, across city, regional and remote areas.

Legal information, advice and referralb
Free legal information, advice and referral are available. Legal Aid operates various telephone advice services and also provides face-to-face advice at Legal Aid offices or courts. Legal advice is usually not subject to strict eligibility criteria or means testing and generally does not require an application for a Legal Aid grant. However, a focus on disadvantaged people is often maintained by prioritising some types of legal matters for certain groups (e.g. criminal matters, especially for people in custody, people facing serious charges or young people facing charges; family breakdown matters, especially matters involving children; family violence; and some civil and rights matters, such as welfare rights, credit and debt, mental health, immigration, guardianship and veterans’ matters). Generally, Legal Aid does not give legal advice for business matters, such as taxation or commercial law, buying property, superannuation law or intellectual property law.

Legal representation
Where ongoing legal assistance is required, a Legal Aid grant can be provided for legal representation, either from a Legal Aid lawyer or from a private or community lawyer. For most grants, clients need to satisfy means and merit tests. There are usually limits to the amount of representation provided, and clients often have to pay some money, depending on their income or personal assets. The merit test may take into account the nature of the matter, whether the case is likely to be won and whether a court ruling is likely to be of benefit to the public.

Further information
Legal Aid NSW
Victoria Legal Aid
Legal Aid Queensland
Legal Services Commission of South Australia
Legal Aid Western Australia
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission
Legal Aid ACT

a ALSs, CLCs and Legal Aid often provide services other than those listed above, such as community legal education, and family and other dispute resolution.
b Legal advice is provided by staff with legal training.