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Research Report: Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia
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Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia  ( 2012 )  Cite this report

10. A holistic approach to justice

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More integrated services

The LAW Survey highlights the potential benefits of a more integrated approach to service delivery and suggests some strategies that may be useful in achieving such an approach. First, the many different types of non-legal advisers that the community commonly consults in relation to legal problems could be more systematically used as gateways to legal services. Second, increased coordination among legal services to provide a more client-focused approach for people who experience multiple legal problems, most notably disadvantaged people, is likely to be of value. Third, more client-focused services for disadvantaged people may also require better coordination between legal services and other human services, given that such people tend to have non-legal needs in addition to their legal problems.

Non-legal advisers as gateways to legal services

The LAW Survey across jurisdictions corroborates past findings that a wide variety of non-legal workers are routinely the only points of contact with professionals for many people with legal problems. Thus, non-legal professionals are ideally placed to notice or signpost legal problems and to act as gateways to legal services (Pleasence et al. 2004c). Non-legal professionals should not be expected to take on the roles of lawyers but could identify people with legal problems and encourage them to take initial steps towards legal resolution. For example, non-legal professionals could make referrals to legal services or could provide basic legal information packages.

Timely legal referral by non-legal professionals has the potential to substantially enhance early legal intervention and resolution. Early intervention can be critical in maximising outcomes and avoiding more complex problems (e.g. Coumarelos et al. 2006; Forell et al. 2005; MacKenzie & Chamberlain 2003; Pleasence et al. 2004c). However, non-legal professionals are not necessarily well equipped at present to act as legal gateways. Qualitative research in Australia has suggested that they often have limited knowledge of the law, have insufficient knowledge to make appropriate legal referrals, do not have up-to-date legal information, do not have the capacity to provide legal help in addition to their core functions, and do not have well-established links with legal professionals and services (Clarke & Forell 2007; Forell et al. 2005; Karras et al. 2006; Scott & Sage 2001).

Single point of referral

Gateways to quality legal advice need to be clear and simple if they are to be effective (Clarke & Forell 2007; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Pleasence 2006). Perhaps the simplest strategy for non-legal workers to act as effective gateways to legal services would be for them to provide people with a single, well-resourced contact point for legal referral, such as a generalist legal service or legal triage service (Coumarelos et al. 2006; Pleasence 2006). A single point of legal referral promotes simplicity for clients, given that numerous referral options may be something of a chimera when people lack the knowledge for gauging their relative benefits (Clarke & Forell 2007; Pleasence 2006). Furthermore, a single point of legal referral promotes simplicity for non-legal professionals adopting the gateway role. The gateway role needs to be effective without being too onerous for non-legal professionals to take on in addition to their core duties and without requiring extensive legal knowledge. Providing a single point of referral requires non-legal professionals to have sufficient knowledge to identify potential legal problems, but not the sophisticated level of legal expertise that would be required to provide referral to the most suitable specialist legal service in each case. This strategy also has the advantage that more comprehensive legal diagnosis and referral would be conducted by the generalist or triage legal service — that is, by appropriately trained legal services personnel. Quick and effective referrals among legal and non-legal services are critical in avoiding referral fatigue. When people have experienced inappropriate referrals, they are less likely to act on new referrals and tend to give up on legal resolution (Pleasence 2006).

Dissemination of legal information

In addition to identifying legal problems for referral, non-legal professionals and services could be effective points for disseminating up-to-date legal information (Clarke & Forell 2007; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Pleasence 2006). For example, they could be suitable points for advertising useful first ports of call for legal advice, and for disseminating legal information packages on the types of legal problems that are relevant to their field.

Enhancing non-legal advisers’ capacity for the gateway role

Non-legal professionals may require appropriate legal training to maximise their ability to identify problems that may benefit from legal referral (Clarke & Forell 2007; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Pleasence 2006). There may be particular value in non-legal professionals being trained to identify the types of legal problems that most commonly relate to their field (Pleasence 2006). For example, doctors and health professionals in Australia already undertake training regarding the mandatory reporting of child abuse. In addition, they are well placed to identify legal issues such as work-related injury, negligent injury and domestic violence. While the LAW Survey showed that they are often consulted for such issues, they could be more formally trained to systematically identify such legal issues and provide timely, appropriate referral to legal information or advice services.

Non-legal professionals may also require additional resources, support and cooperative links with legal services if they are to add the legal gateway role to their duties more formally (see Clarke & Forell 2007).

Need for integrated legal services

The present findings in all jurisdictions stress the importance of well-coordinated or joined-up legal services in order to deal with co-occurring legal problems. Legal problems often clustered together. Disadvantaged people were especially vulnerable to a wide range of legal problems. Thus, legal services must be sophisticated and responsive enough to handle the multitude of complex situations that people face. They must have the capacity to resolve complicated, concurrent and interrelated legal problems that cut across many aspects of people’s well-being, including their family circumstances, finances, employment, health, housing and welfare. Legal service delivery needs to be sufficiently coordinated to deal with connected but disparate legal issues. It may often be inadequate to deal with each legal problem in isolation. In particular, a holistic, client-focused approach to legal service provision may be necessary to resolve the multiple legal problems that disadvantaged people tend to face (e.g. Buck et al. 2005; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Currie 2007b; Forell et al. 2005; Maxwell et al. 1999; Pleasence 2006; Sandefur 2007, 2008).

This suggestion is at odds with much of the existing legal service practice across Australia. The diverse areas covered by the law and the complexity of the justice system have inevitably resulted in a degree of specialisation among lawyers.(15) Like medical specialisation, legal specialisation is conducive to the provision of expert assistance with regard to specific individual problems (Coumarelos et al. 2006). However, legal specialisation has, to some degree, resulted in legal service delivery in Australia being siloed by the type of legal matter, legal jurisdiction and eligibility criteria for public legal assistance. Thus, there is considerable fragmentation in legal service delivery, with different types of legal issues tending to be dealt with separately by different legal service providers who function fairly autonomously (Coumarelos et al. 2006; Forell et al. 2005; Scott & Sage 2001). In each Australian jurisdiction, a diverse range of private and public agencies provide a variety of legal services. Private lawyers often specialise in specific areas of law, and some, but not others, provide pro bono services. Public legal service agencies provide a variety of services and include Legal Aid, CLCs, ALSs, LawAccess NSW and local court registrars and staff. Some of these public agencies provide specialist services. That is, they are bound by funding requirements to provide only specific types of services (e.g. telephone information hotlines, advice, referral or representation) for certain demographic groups (e.g. young people, women or people with a disability) and specific types of legal issues. However, other public legal service agencies, including certain CLCs and legal hotlines (e.g. LawAccess NSW and some hotlines operated by Legal Aid and CLCs), provide more generalist services. That is, they provide services for a broader range of legal issues and demographic groups, often including triage services that provide initial legal diagnosis and referral to specialist legal services.(16) A range of government and non-government bodies (e.g. government departments, ombudsmen, commissions, tribunals and industry bodies) also provide various dispute resolution and complaint-handling services, again often for specific areas of the law.(17)

The fragmented nature of legal services in Australia means that legal service provision is problem-focused rather than client-focused. This fragmentation can be a challenge for people with multiple legal problems, who often need to identify a separate legal service provider for different types of legal problems and to navigate the disparate eligibility criteria attached to each service provider. A problem-focused rather than client-focused approach can also mean that only some of the legal problems faced by an individual are detected and addressed. Thus, a person’s legal problems may not be dealt with in their entirety, resulting in the need for extra contacts with legal services or, worse, in people giving up on obtaining advice (Buck et al. 2010b). Although rigorous research is sparse, some reports have noted poor coordination and unsuitable referral among legal services in Australia, suggesting a lack of clear pathways for clients (ALRC 2000; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Ellison, Schetzer, Mullins, Perry & Wong 2004; Family Law Pathways Advisory Group 2001; Forell et al. 2005; LJF 2003; Scott & Sage 2001). A more integrated approach to legal services in Australia is therefore indicated to handle the multiple, interrelated legal problems faced by some people — most usually, disadvantaged people.

Need for integrated legal and non-legal response

In addition to more integrated legal services, the present findings indicate the potential benefits of a more integrated response across legal and non-legal services. As already discussed, using non-legal professionals as more direct gateways to legal referral is one method for coordinating legal and non-legal services. In many cases, simple, effective referral between otherwise autonomous legal and non-legal services may be a sufficient level of service coordination to achieve complete legal resolution. However, a greater level of integration between legal and non-legal services is likely to be useful for people who face interrelated or complex legal and non-legal needs. A number of the present findings across jurisdictions indicate that people with legal problems often also have related non-legal problems.

First, it is well established that disadvantaged groups within society, by virtue of their socioeconomic status, are often grappling with a variety of non-legal needs, such as health, financial, employment, housing and educational needs (ABS 2004c, 2008b; Gray, Edwards, Hayes & Baxter 2009; Harding et al. 2001; Headey 2006; Vinson 2007). The present results confirm past findings that, in addition to having non-legal problems, disadvantaged groups are typically the demographic groups that are most vulnerable to legal problems. Disadvantaged respondents were not only more likely to experience legal problems, but were also more vulnerable to severe and multiple legal problems. Furthermore, in some cases, they had difficulty resolving these legal problems. The intertwined legal and non-legal needs of many disadvantaged groups indicate that addressing their legal problems in isolation may provide inadequate legal resolution. In order to achieve a comprehensive solution to their concurrent legal and non-legal problems, disadvantaged people may require a coordinated response involving a combination of legal and non-legal services working together (Clarke & Forell 2007; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Forell et al. 2005; Pleasence 2006). The present findings confirm that holistic access to justice should be an important goal within the broader framework of social inclusion (Buck et al. 2010b; Coumarelos et al. 2006; Curran 2007; Forell et al. 2005; Forell & Gray 2009; Moorhead, Robinson & Matrix Research and Consultancy 2006; Noone 2007, 2009; Pleasence 2006).

Second, across jurisdictions, legal problems led to a wide range of adverse and severe consequences in a number of life areas, such as stress-related illness, physical illness, income loss or financial strain, relationship breakdown and the need to move home. The adverse impacts of legal problems on a broad range of outcomes indicate that the link between disadvantage and legal problems is dynamic and bidirectional. That is, not only does socioeconomic disadvantage or social exclusion increase the likelihood of experiencing legal problems, but the experience of legal problems can create, perpetuate or further entrench social exclusion (Buck et al. 2005; Currie 2007b). Resolving legal problems will sometimes require resolution of the non-legal problems that ensue from these legal problems. The broad adverse impacts of legal problems add further weight to the proposal that a coordinated response to legal and non-legal needs, through joined-up legal and non-legal human services, is likely to be beneficial (Kemp et al. 2007; Moorhead et al. 2006; Pleasence 2006; Pleasence et al. 2007a, 2007b, 2007c). Researchers have advocated the coordination of legal services with a wide variety of other human services, including health, housing, financial, social, welfare, family and crime victim services (Kemp et al. 2007; Moorhead et al. 2006; Pleasence 2006; Pleasence et al. 2007a, 2007b, 2007c).

In the UK, it has been argued that the considerable negative impacts that legal problems can have on people’s personal circumstances translate to an enormous impact on society at large across many health, social and economic services. Using CSJS data, the economic impact was estimated to be at least A13 billion over a period of three and a half years and prompted the Lord Chancellor to state that solving legal problems must remain a priority across government (Balmer et al. 2010; Pleasence 2006). The LAW Survey findings suggest that the negative impacts of legal problems in Australia are also likely to translate to substantial economic impacts throughout Australian society. The findings indicate that an earlier, more integrated response from legal and non-legal services may prevent the escalation of legal and non-legal problems and result in long-term cost savings across government sectors.

Models of service integration

Integration among legal services or across both legal and non-legal services can be achieved via a variety of models. Service integration is typically conceptualised as a continuum (Cortis, Chan & Hilferty 2009; Fine, Pancharatnam & Thomson 2005; Horwath & Morrison 2007; Lappin 2010; Lennie 2010; Leutz 1999). At one extreme, slight integration involves agencies remaining completely autonomous but developing some cooperative links. At the other extreme, full integration involves agencies combining to form new units with pooled resources. Moderate integration models involve a series of increasingly more intensive linkages between separate agencies (Fine et al. 2005). For example, moderate integration models involve harmonising various activities to minimise duplication between agencies and may also involve more integrated client-focused or case management approaches (Fine et al. 2005).

Thus, slight integration of legal services in Australia could simply involve better cooperative links, via promotion of improved networking and referral, between various public and private legal service providers without the need for them to surrender their independence. One example of slight integration of legal services is the use of quality legal triage services to provide an initial diagnosis of legal needs and referral to specialist legal services as appropriate. Similarly, slight integration of legal and non-legal services may, as discussed earlier, involve more systematic referrals to legal services from non-legal professionals or could further involve bidirectional referrals and cooperative links. More intensive integration models may, for example, involve ‘service hubs’ or ‘one-stop shops’ that co-locate different legal services or both legal and non-legal services. Service hubs aim to improve the accessibility of services by providing a convenient entry point, such as a location frequented by the client group. In addition to facilitating referrals between agencies, service hubs can also involve more intensively integrated services by adopting a more client-focused or case management approach across services (Coumarelos et al. 2006; Fine et al. 2005; Forell et al. 2005). For example, they could involve more systematic diagnosis of a client’s full range of legal and non-legal needs at entry, followed by a case plan for addressing all of those needs through coordinated response across services.

Increased integration among a variety of human services has become the focus of recent whole-of-government social inclusion policies in several countries, including Australia (Australian Government 2009a; Vinson 2009). Such policies target demographic groups that experience multiple disadvantage and aim to address the multiple causes and impacts of disadvantage by a joined-up approach to service provision across numerous government and non-government human services. Some of these policies explicitly nominate access to justice as a priority area and aim to include legal services within the network of joined-up human services.

As noted earlier, the UK has been a world leader in establishing integrated legal and non-legal services. For example, UK initiatives have included co-locating citizens advice bureaus within health settings (Balmer et al. 2006; Kemp et al. 2007; Pleasence 2006). More recently, a major large-scale initiative in the UK introduced CLACs and CLANs to provide integrated social welfare law services by coordinating various legal and non-legal services (Buck et al. 2010b). CLACs involve co-locating services within single centres, whereas CLANs involve enhancing coordination between a network of local services in areas where population densities do not facilitate single centres. CLACs and CLANs are service hubs that aim to provide ‘accessible’ services through the provision of convenient entry points to service delivery. Furthermore, they involve client-focused or case management approaches via ‘seamless’, ‘integrated’ and ‘tailored’ service delivery. That is, they aim to provide service delivery that is ‘seamless’ from entry through to aftercare via good coordination and referral, ‘integrated’ in that it detects and addresses all the problems experienced by the client, and ‘tailored’ to allow for intensive support for the most vulnerable clients (Buck et al. 2010b). A process evaluation of CLACs found two key benefits: the convenience of a range of advice expertise ‘under one roof’ and knowledge transfer among service providers (Buck et al. 2010b). CLANs were not included in this evaluation, because they were not operational at the time of fieldwork.

Similarly, the US has seen a proliferation of community law services involving collaboration between different professionals. In some of these collaborations, lawyers are the predominant service providers. In others, lawyers provide a secondary or supportive role to non-legal professionals. Other collaborations involve lawyers working with non-legal professionals in an integrated fashion to meet multiple client needs (Castles 2008).

Service integration in Australia

In Australia, large-scale service integration initiatives have not been undertaken at the national or state/territory level, and there has been only limited discussion about what joined-up or integrated services would entail (Noone 2007, 2009). Service integration has only just been placed on the national agenda, with COAG’s (2010) National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services, which covers the period July 2010 to June 2014. It aims to increase collaboration among legal services by increasing preventative, early intervention and dispute resolution services, compre­hensive legal information services, seamless referral for preventative and early intervention, and efficient and cost-effective Legal Aid services. It also aims to increase collaboration between legal services and other human services.

Although not on a particularly large scale, initiatives that provide communication among various legal services and associations have begun to take shape in some Australian jurisdictions (cf. Noone 2007, 2009). For example, Legal Assistance Forums (LAFs) have been established in NSW (NLAF), Victoria (VLAF) and Queensland (QLAF), and at the national level (ALAF). The LAFs typically include representatives from Legal Aid, ALSs, CLCs, legal professional associations, public interest law clearing houses (PILCHs) and law foundations. They are a primary mechanism through which agencies collaborate in the planning, design and delivery of public legal assistance.(18) In some cases, LAF-based working groups have been established to cooperate on addressing specific legal issues or meeting the needs of certain demographic groups.(19) In addition, various one-off initiatives have sought to provide coordinated legal services — for example, initiatives in response to crises such as the 2009 Victorian bushfires,(20) and pro bono partnerships between private and public legal services.(21)

Coordination between legal and non-legal services in Australia is also generally less well advanced than in countries such as the UK and the US. Nonetheless, a number of initiatives within states/territories with the aim of improving legal outcomes have involved partnerships between legal and non-legal agencies. Typically, these initiatives have been relatively small-scale projects that have been undertaken on a disjointed or ad hoc basis, often under the auspices or funding of Legal Aid, law foundations, PILCHs, CLCs, universities or pro bono partnerships. These projects have included place-based initiatives, co-located services, issue-based initiatives, client-based initiatives, such as initiatives for homeless or Indigenous people, legal information and education initiatives, ‘hosted’ and outreach legal services, and multidisciplinary services. Perhaps the largest scale initiative in Australia that involves partnerships between various legal and non-legal agencies is the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery (CLSD) program, which spans much of regional NSW. The CLSD program involves government, public legal service providers, private lawyers, non-legal service providers and community groups working together to deliver services more effectively to disadvantaged people in particular regional areas.(22) Other examples of initiatives involving coordination between legal and non-legal organisations in each state/territory are as follows:
    • NSW: homeless persons’ legal services(23) and the Regional Outreach Clinic Program, which hosts Legal Aid outreach services(24)
    • Victoria: homeless persons’ legal services,(25) the co-location of the West Heidelberg CLC and Banyule Community Health (see Noone 2007, 2009), and Seniors Rights Victoria(26)
    • Queensland: homeless persons’ legal services,(27) the Regional Legal Assistance Forums (RLAFs), which are place-based initiatives,(28) the co-location of the Logan Youth Legal Service and Youth and Family Service (Logan City),(29) relationships between Legal Aid and community organisations to facilitate legal information and referral, such as Community Access Points,(30) and multidisciplinary community-based organisations, such as the legal, advocacy and community development services of the Advocacy and Support Centre(31)
    • South Australia: homeless persons’ legal services(32) and ongoing relationships between Legal Aid and community organisations to facilitate legal information and referral, such as Murray Bridge Outreach(33)
    • Western Australia: multidisciplinary community-based organisations, such as citizens advice bureaus, which provide information, referrals and mediation services,(34) and the Geraldton Resource Centre, which co-locates the Geraldton CLC with financial, tenancy and other community services(35)
    • Tasmania: the Tasmanian Government’s multi-agency Safe at Home family violence initiative(36) and the Migrant Resource Centre of Southern Tasmania, which provides information about legal and other services(37)
    • the Northern Territory: co-location of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council domestic violence service with other health, cultural and social services at Pitjantjatjara Council Resource Centre,(38) coordination of legal, counselling and referral services for Indigenous victims of family violence at the North Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service(39) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit Aboriginal Corporation(40)
    • the ACT: Street Law, which is an ongoing relationship between community legal services and community organisations to provide crisis, child, family, women’s, migrant and settlement services.(41)

The best method for providing integrated service delivery throughout Australia requires considerable thought and careful planning, and there are lessons to be learnt from the experience overseas. The implementation of CLACs and CLANs in the UK confirmed that joining up legal and non-legal services is a complex, challenging process. It requires considerable planning, investment, resources and cooperation if it is to be effective (Buck et al. 2010a, 2010b; Fox et al. 2010; Smith & Patel 2010). Integrating services can pose considerable challenges across sectors, across government and within organisations. Although considerable funding and resources are required, funding for coordinated activities between agencies often falls outside the individual funding guidelines of each agency (Noone 2009). In addition, competing priorities, different reporting requirements, ethical obligations and professional duties can also provide substantial impediments to successful multidisciplinary integration (Castles 2008; Noone 2009). For example, multidisciplinary integration requires shared understanding of the complementary roles of different agencies; identification of mutually beneficial aspects of service delivery; reconciliation of competing policies, objectives and reporting requirements; considerable funding, resourcing and time commitment to embed effective relationships and referral; and mechanisms of evaluation, accountability and quality assurance (Pleasence 2006; Pleasence et al. 2004c; Scott & Sage 2001).

Thought also needs to be given to the integrated service models that are most suited to local conditions in Australia. For example, the tyranny of distance is a much greater issue in Australia than in the UK, given Australia’s vast rural and remote areas. The population may be too sparse and the existing services too few in such areas to support certain types of integrated service delivery (see Wakerman, Humphreys, Wells, Kuipers, Entwistle & Jones 2006). Co-located or closely located services may be more feasible in major city areas, regional centres or a largely urban jurisdiction such as the ACT. In more remote areas, however, it is likely that integrated services will have to rely more heavily on outreach services. Although the evaluation by Buck et al. (2010b) did not include CLANs, they noted that, compared to CLACs, where services are under the one roof, CLANs could face distinct delivery challenges, given their multiple access points and dependence on outreach services. Such challenges loom even larger in Australia. Furthermore, the best way to build on the existing infrastructure of legal and human services in Australia needs to be considered. This infrastructure is not identical across states/territories or across city, regional, rural and remote areas. For example, a more comprehensive system of citizens advice bureaus exists in Western Australia than in the rest of the country. In addition, in areas where initiatives providing some coordination between legal and non-legal agencies already exist (e.g. the CLSD program in regional NSW and RLAFs in regional Queensland), it may well be sensible to build on these initiatives rather than to start afresh. At the very least, such initiatives are likely to provide valuable insights on the advantages and disadvantages of certain aspects of service integration. Consequently, service integration should be suitably tailored to local conditions and infrastructure.

In addition, the best entry points to more coordinated services need to be determined, and, again, there may be benefit in tailoring entry points to the existing local infrastructure. Entry points must have a number of features to be viable. First, they must have high visibility and accessibility. That is, they must be well known to the public and convenient to use. Marketing may be required to ensure high awareness of the services offered via particular entry points (Scott & Sage 2001). Second, entry points must be able to provide the first step towards a comprehensive diagnosis of the client’s full range of legal and non-legal needs. They must be able to provide at least a preliminary diagnosis with suitable referral for a more complete diagnosis. Third, entry points must be well connected to a wide range of legal and other human services, so that they can provide relevant referrals to specialised services for holistic resolution of all of a client’s legal and non-legal problems, including, where appropriate, referrals for more tailored, client-centred or case management services.

The types of services that could viably act as entry points to integrated legal and non-legal services in Australia also need to be considered. First, generalist CLC offices may be feasible entry points, in areas where they are available. Generalist CLCs already often have established relationships with other legal and non-legal services in their area. They usually offer general legal advice and referral to specialist legal services, foster relationships with non-legal services and cater for the particular needs of their client group. Although these CLC activities bear some similarity to those of the UK’s CLACs, they fall fundamentally short of the CLACs’ integrated service model in a number of critical respects. Unlike CLACs, generalist CLCs are not funded to provide integrated legal and non-legal services. As a result, generalist CLCs tend to have less streamlined processes for the diagnosis and treatment of multiple legal and non-legal problems, and less formalised cooperative links with broader human services. Adapting the CLC infrastructure to more systematically focus on the holistic assessment and treatment of each client’s full range of legal and non-legal problems is likely to require not only further resourcing, but also changes to operations and more formalised cooperative links with broader human services.

Second, the possibility of using legal triage hotlines, such as LawAccess NSW and the various Legal Aid and CLC hotlines, as entry points to integrated legal services has already been raised. In addition, legal triage hotlines may be suitable entry points to more integrated service provision across legal and human services. Although legal hotlines operate throughout Australia, they may require some adaptation in order to act as effective entry points to integrated legal and non-legal services. For example, the public profile of these legal hotlines is not necessarily high, as indicated by the LAW Survey findings for LawAccess NSW.(42) In addition, although the existing legal hotlines sometimes provide non-legal referral (see Cain 2007; Scott et al. 2004), they tend to focus on legal diagnosis and legal resolution, and are not specifically funded to provide comprehensive assessment and resolution of all of a client’s intertwined legal and non-legal problems. Legal triage hotlines may be more feasible entry points than generalist CLCs in remote geographical locations where the population may be too sparse to support local services.

Third, in some locations, local community organisations may also be feasible entry points to integrated services, particularly organisations that people routinely turn to for information, advice or assistance with problems. For example, such organisations may include neighbourhood or community centres, citizens advice bureaus, community access points, local council offices, members of parliament, libraries, and family or migrant resource centres. Given that LAW Survey respondents used a diverse range of non-legal community organisations as advisers for their legal problems, there may be benefit in more systematically supporting appropriate community organisations to act as gateways to integrated legal and non-legal services, particularly in remote areas. Again, considerable adaptations would be required to use local community organisations as effective entry points to integrated legal and non-legal services.

15. For example, ‘micro-niche’ legal practices specialising in extremely narrow areas of the law have emerged in the US (see ABA SCDLS 2002).

16. See Appendix Table A6.2 for a description of the types of services provided by ALSs, CLCs, court services, LawAccess NSW and Legal Aid, and see Appendix Table A2.2 for examples of public legal services in Australia.

17. See Appendix Table A2.3 for examples of dispute resolution and complaint-handling agencies in Australia.

18. See,, and

19. The NLAF working group on employment law services was established to examine ways of increasing employment law services for socially excluded people. See The QLAF specialist forum on Disability Legal Assistance was established to promote cooperation between legal service providers and to help to ensure that the legal needs of people with impaired decision-making capacity are met with the best and most effective service available. See

20. Victorian Bushfire Legal Help was established to provide free legal information and support for people affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires and involved the CLCs in the affected areas, the Victorian Federation of Community Legal Centres, PILCH (Vic), Victoria Legal Aid, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar, and federal government emergency funding. See

21. Notable examples of pro bono partnerships between private and public legal services include partnerships involving homeless persons’ legal services in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. See, and

22. See

23. See

24. See

25. See

26. See

27. See

28. See

29. See

30. See

31. See

32. See

33. See

34. See

35. See

36. See

37. See

38. See

39. See

40. See

41. See

42. See Figure 6.8 in the LAW Survey report for NSW


Coumarelos, C, Macourt, D, People, J, MacDonald, HM, Wei, Z, Iriana, R & Ramsey, S 2012, Legal Australia-Wide Survey: legal need in Australia, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney