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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

6. Advice for legal problems

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Awareness of legal services

As noted earlier, advice from a professional or formal adviser was sought for only 9783 or 51.1 per cent of respondents’ legal problems (see Figure 5.3). Furthermore, a legal adviser was consulted in only 2969 or 30.3 per cent of the 9783 cases where respondents sought advice (see Table 6.2). Given these findings, the extent to which respondents were aware of various free legal services is of particular interest.

The survey examined the extent to which respondents were aware of the free services that are provided by the following not-for-profit legal services: ALSs, CLCs, court services, LawAccess NSW and Legal Aid.(22)

ALSs provide free legal information, advice and referral services on a wide range of issues for Indigenous people, as well as providing free legal representation for Indigenous people in specified areas of law.

The other not-for-profit organisations provide free legal information and referral services for the public. In addition, they provide free legal advice in certain specified areas of law, but, apart from court services and LawAccess NSW, they have criteria to determine eligibility or priority for receipt of free legal advice (e.g. criteria in relation to areas of law, geographical proximity, disadvantage or availability of alternative services). Legal Aid provides grants to pay fully or in part for legal representation if certain personal and case-specific eligibility criteria are met. CLCs may also provide free legal representation in some cases where clients are not eligible for a Legal Aid grant.(23)

The survey examined awareness of these not-for-profit legal services via:
    • uncued or ‘free’ recall, where respondents were asked to actually provide the names of services they knew about (i.e. ‘Can you name any legal services that provide free legal information, advice or assistance?’; see Appendix A1, question D24)
    • cued recall or ‘recognition’, where respondents were provided with the names of the services and asked if they recognised these services (e.g. ‘Have you heard of Legal Aid?’; see Appendix A1, question D25).

Note, however, that LawAccess NSW is a state-specific legal service. As a result, although uncued recall of LawAccess NSW was captured in all jurisdictions, cued recall of LawAccess NSW was examined only in NSW. In addition, given that the target client group for ALSs is Indigenous people, the cued recall of ALSs was asked only of respondents who self-identified as being Indigenous.

Figure 6.8 provides both the uncued and cued recall of ALSs, CLCs, court services and Legal Aid.(24) Note that the percentages for ALSs in Figure 6.8 are based only on the 348 Indigenous respondents in the Australian sample,(25) whereas the percentages for the other legal services are based on all 20 716 Australian respondents. As expected, the percentages for cued recall or recognition of the not-for-profit legal services, where respondents were provided with the names of the services, were higher than those for uncued recall, where respondents were required to actually name the services. Legal Aid had the highest awareness rates in absolute terms,(26) with 41.0 per cent of respondents being able to freely recall or name Legal Aid and 87.7 per cent of respondents recognising the name ‘Legal Aid’. ALSs had the next highest awareness rates, with an uncued or free recall of 18.0 per cent and a recognition rate of 66.9 per cent. Court services and CLCs had lower awareness levels. Uncued recall of these legal services was under 9.0 per cent, while the recognition rate was 33.5 per cent for court services and 36.3 per cent for CLCs.

Figure 6.8: Uncued and cued recall of not-for-profit legal services, Australia

Note: N=348 Indigenous respondents for ALSs and N=20 716 respondents for other not-for-profit legal services.

In addition, in response to the question on uncued recall:
    • various private lawyers were named by 3.4 per cent of Australian respondents as providers of pro bono services or free initial consultations
    • other professionals or organisations were named by 9.6 per cent of Australian respondents as providers of free legal information, advice or assistance, such as legal organisations, telephone lines or websites, dispute/complaint-handling organisations, government departments or agencies, the police, trade unions, health or welfare professionals or organisations, and financial professionals or organisations.

Both uncued recall and cued recall were extremely low for LawAccess NSW. Only 1.2 per cent of NSW respondents, and less than half a per cent of other respondents, named LawAccess in the uncued or free recall question. In addition, only 14.2 per cent of NSW respondents recognised LawAccess NSW in the cued recall question.

22. Note that it is possible that people sometimes incorrectly use the term ‘legal aid’ to refer to not-for-profit legal services such as ALSs and CLCs.

23. See Appendix Table A6.2 for further details about the free services provided by these not-for-profit organisations.

24. Given that cued recall of LawAccess NSW was captured only in NSW, these results are provided in the text, but not in the figure.

25. This number (348) represented the weighted number of Indigenous Australian respondents. The corresponding unweighted number was 612. Running the analyses on the awareness of ALSs again using unweighted Indigenous numbers produced virtually identical results to those in Figure 6.8.

26. A significance test was not conducted.


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