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Newsletter | August 2013

This newsletter summarises the activities of NLAF during the period from March - June 2013 including the outcomes of the NLAF meeting on 5 June 2013.

The work of NLAF over this period has focused on the following issues:

  • Legal services for people engaging with Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse;
  • Strategies to address recruitment of lawyers in rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas;
  • The legal needs of prisoners;
  • Fines and traffic law, particularly licence disqualification and suspension; and
  • Housing law issues for socially and economically disadvantaged people including people at risk of homelessness who are living in social housing.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Jenny Hardy, Executive Officer, Knowmore legal advice service for people engaging with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse addressed the Forum. She:

  • Outlined the structure of Knowmore and the scope of services provided;
  • Discussed the activities of the Royal Commission to date; and
  • Outlined some issues arising out of the Royal Commission for clients of the LAS and for agencies supporting victims of sexual assault.

NLAF members discussed the opportunities for their respective organisations to work with Knowmore, particularly in relation to referral practices and engagement with vulnerable clients.

Working groups

Recruitment and retention of lawyers in RRR areas

  • The Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, on behalf of the RRR working group, is undertaking research relating to monitoring vacancies in the public legal sector of NSW.  The research is currently under review.
  • The NLAF RRR working group acts as a steering committee for the Regional Outreach Clinic Program (ROCP) administered by Legal Aid NSW.  Further information about ROCP is available at: http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/what-we-do/community-partnerships/regional-outreach-clinic-program. The Regional Outreach Clinic Program is currently being evaluated.
  • The working group completed a stocktake of its strategies to address recruitment and retention of lawyers in RRR areas in accordance with the recommendations arising from the Review of the Legal Assistance Services to the NSW Community.  The stocktake outlines the progress made in relation to implementing professional development and mentoring initiatives, human resourcing initiatives and further research and monitoring.


  • Luke Grant, Assistant Commissioner, Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) addressed the most recent NLAF Prisoners Forum.   He spoke about the restructure of Corrective Services NSW and current CSNSW priorities.
  • Other issues that are under discussion at the Forum include: the extension of Work and Development Orders to correctional centres; telephone appointments for interviews and face to face video conferencing; telephone assessment of prisoners for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, legal assistance with visa cancellation matters, mapping of legal outreach services to correctional centres across NSW.
  • The Prisoners Legal Information Team (PLIT) reviewed and updated the content of the Legal Information Portal. The PLIT monitors traffic to the portal and has noted a steady increase in the use of the Portal by CSNSW staff and inmates.

Fines and traffic law

  • The working group has identified the difficulties in obtaining proof of identity documents (birth certificates and change of name) as a significant barrier to obtaining a driver's licence for members of some remote Aboriginal communities.
  • Legal Aid NSW together with the ALS and a range of other legal and non-legal service providers and government agencies provided outreach services in Bourke and Brewarrina during Law Week in May 2013.  A representative of Births Deaths and Marriages attended and assisted members of the community to complete applications for birth certificates.  The demand for birth certificates was overwhelming and a total of 280 applications were made.
  • The working group is engaging with Department of Premier and Cabinet, Roads and Maritime Services and the Department of Attorney General and Justice to discuss development of a coordinated approach to the issue of proof of identity documents in remote Aboriginal communities. 


The working group has mapped points of engagement between Housing NSW and the community justice sector and is considering strategies to effectively engage with Housing NSW. 

Groups reporting to NLAF

Learning and Development Group

The Learning and Development Group has been working on a collaborative cross agency induction program.  The induction program took place on 5 June 2013.  Different justice agencies delivered presentations about their services.  The induction program is intended to be useful for smaller agencies and organisations that do not have the capacity to run sector wide induction training programs regularly.  The induction program gives new staff an overview of agencies and stakeholders in the justice sector.

Legal Information Referral Forum

The most recent LIRF meeting featured:

  • A presentation from the Cancer Council about the evaluation of its Legal Referral Service; and
  • A presentation from Service NSW about the roll out of its services, including a 24/7 telephone service, a website and service centres across the state.

Co-operative Legal Services Delivery (CLSD) Program

The Cooperative Legal Services Delivery Program reported on identified legal needs and emerging systemic issues including:

  • Housing issues – in particular, repairs and maintenance, discrimination in accessing private tenancies, rent arrears, availability of housing stock;
  • Employment issues – Exploitation of workers on s 457 visas;
  • Consumer issues and debt – rising debt and utilities costs. Financial counseling services are stretched because their services are being used by under employed people and small businesses; and
  • Bourke and Brewarrina Legal Outreach Days. A comprehensive range of legal services, non legal services and government agencies delivered outreach services during Law Week in May 2013.  Participating agencies included Aboriginal Legal Service NSW / Act, Legal Aid NSW, Kingsford Legal Centre, Australian Human Rights Commission, Western NSW Community  Legal Centre, Thiyama-li Family Violence Legal Service, Ashurst Lawyers, Births Deaths and Marriages, State Debt Recovery Office, Office for Fair Training, Roads and Maritime Services, Centrelink, Centacare, Transport for NSW, Medical Local, Aboriginal Medical Services.

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