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Research Report: Data digest
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NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist)

Note: Only inquiries from NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist) were analysed as these are more indicative of the range of legal matters experienced by the community than specialist community legal centres that specialise in particular areas of the law such as credit/debt.

Table 15:  Percentage of inquiries by area of law and year
NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist), 1999–2002
Area of law1999200020012002All
FamilyTotal Family31.732.833.130.432
General crime87.
Domestic violence8.
Traffic offences2.
CrimeTotal Crime19.217.615.516.817.2
Government/Legal system8.71011.310.910.3
Health/Human rights2.
Motor vehicles3.332.72.62.9
Personal injury0.
CivilTotal Civil49.149.651.352.850.8
Total (%)100100100100100
Total (No.)53 16157 64761 78562 452235 045

Figure 9:  Percentage of inquiries by area of law
NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist), 1999–2002

Source:  Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department National Information Scheme (unpublished data).


  • The most frequent type of inquiry was Civil Law (51%), followed by Family Law (32%) and Criminal Law (17%).
  • Domestic violence accounted for about 45 per cent of the Criminal Law inquiries.
  • The most frequent of the inquiries concerning Civil Law were about housing (11% of all inquiries), government/legal system (10%), credit/debt (7%), employment (6%) and consumers (4%). At a more detailed level, inquiries about Civil Law concerned the following:

  • - 74 per cent of housing inquiries were related to tenancy, and 21 per cent to neighbours and fencing.
    - 62 per cent of government/legal system inquiries were about the legal system, 15 per cent about government, and 10 per cent about pensions and allowances.
    - 51 per cent of employment inquiries were about employment (general) and 32 per cent about unfair termination.

    Based on the chi-square examining broad area of law by year:
  • The proportion of all inquiries concerning Family Law decreased overall, from 32 per cent in 1999 to 30 per cent in 2002.
  • The proportion of all inquiries about Criminal Law also decreased overall, from 19 per cent in 1999 to 17 per cent in 2002.
  • The proportion of all inquiries about Civil Law increased steadily over the four-year period from 49 to 53 per cent.

  • Based on the chi-square examining specific area of law by year:
  • The largest consistent percentage increases within Civil Law were employment and government/legal system. The only area of Civil Law to undergo a consistent decline in the proportion of inquiries was motor vehicles. The remaining categories showed a mixture of increases and decreases over the four-year period.


    Scott, S, Eyland, A , Gray, A, Zhou, A & Coumarelos, C 2004, Data digest, a compendium of services usage data from NSW legal assistance and dispute resolution services 1999-2002, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2004