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Past Working Groups




Learning & Development Reference Working Group

The Learning and Development group provides a forum for interagency collaboration on learning and development initiatives in the community and justice sector.


CLCNSW Capacity Building Coordinator, Laurel Draffen (9212 7333)

Terms of Reference

The Learning and Development Group aims to improve the planning and coordination of training for lawyers and non-lawyers in the government and community legal assistance services sector of NSW.

The Group provides a forum for exchange of information amongst workers who are responsible for, or interested in, providing or facilitating learning and development opportunities in the sector.

The group will:

  • identify the availability of learning and development programs of member organisations;
  • identify learning and development (including training) needs of stakeholders in the government and community legal assistance services sector and the capacity of members to meet these needs; and
  • collaborate and provide a coordinated approach to meeting these needs.

The group is convened by Community Legal Centres NSW and reports to the NSW Legal Assistance Forum.


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Working Group on Education Act Prosecutions

Convenor: Annmarie Lumsden, Director Crime, Legal Aid NSW

Working Group: Established March 2015 and concluded June 2017

Terms of Reference

The Education Act Working Group aims to improve access to legal services (in particular legal advice and representation) for parents and children involved in Compulsory School Order (CSO) proceedings in the Children’s Court and Education Act prosecutions (EA prosecutions) in the Local Court.

The Working Group will note the particular issues arising out of Education Act litigation in disadvantaged communities in regional and remote NSW.


The Working Group will:

  1. Map the programs and service providers (NSW and Commonwealth-funded) that are currently addressing truancy and school attendance in NSW.
  2. Collect and collate case studies illustrating the need for improved practices, processes and collaboration around CSO proceedings and EA prosecutions.
  3. Clarify and promote the availability of legal services in CSO proceedings and EA prosecutions – including raising awareness with the legal profession, Courts, schools, community workers and the Department of Education and Communities and Police Force of NSW.
  4. Engage with the Department of Education and Communities and the Courts to settle agreed procedures for conducting litigation in relation to CSO proceedings and EA prosecutions, including:
    1. exploring practical and workable procedures in relation to listing arrangements
    2. clarifying practices and jurisdiction in relation to the issuing of bench warrants.

Reports and Information

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Working Group on Housing Law

Convenor: Ed Santow, CEO Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Working Group: Established March 2013 and concluded March 2014

Terms of Reference

To provide a platform for organisations in the housing and legal sector to work together in a cooperative and collaborative manner to sustain the tenancies of vulnerable people (particularly people with mental health issues) at risk of homelessness who are living in social housing.

Initially, the focus of the working group will be limited to the social housing sector.  Further into the terms of its operation, the Working Group will consider revising and expanding its terms of reference to include tenancies of vulnerable people who are in the private rental market.


Identify and promote best practice

  1. Identify practices / systems / models of service provision that are successful in supporting vulnerable people at risk of homelessness to maintain and sustain their tenancies.  These practices may involve:
    • a coordinated, multi disciplinary approach to the provision of tenant support services; and/ or
    • a 'client centred' approach to the delivery of those services so that they 'wrap around the client'  .
  2. Promote and encourage implementation of these examples of best practice across the social housing sector of NSW so that 'best practice' becomes 'business as usual'.

Engage with Housing NSW

  1. Engage with Housing NSW to develop a constructive working relationship in which to address the housing related legal issues of tenants living in social housing.
  2. Engage with Housing NSW to facilitate access to assistance (both legal and non legal) for tenants at risk of losing their tenancy.

Housing and Mental Health Agreement

  1. Investigate the progress that has been made towards implementing the Housing and Mental Health Agreement.
  2. Engage with Housing NSW and Health NSW in relation to the implementation of the agreement.  For example, participation in Housing and Mental Health District Implementation and Coordinating Committees (DIACCs) and the development of their workplans.

Collect data about tenant experiences and map express legal need

  1. Develop a data base of case studies that illustrate:
  • the difficulties / barriers / challenges to sustaining a tenancy (including case studies involving CTTT decisions that impact adversely on the continuation of social housing tenancies); and
  • successful maintenance of a tenancy,

for vulnerable people at risk of homelessness living in social housing (and renting in the private rental market, if it is reasonably practical to collect this data).

  1. Develop a protocol for capturing these case studies across the sector.
  2. Map express demand for assistance with housing law issues in NSW.


  1. Facilitate and support the roll out across NSW of work done to date in relation to education and assistance to social housing tenants about maintenance and repairs issues.

Reports and Information

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Working Group on Legal Response to Disasters and Emergencies

Convenor: Jane Pritchard, Manager, Review and Strategy, Legal Aid NSW

Working Group: Established November 2011 and concluded March 2013

Terms of Reference

To ensure an effective legal response in the event of a major natural disaster or emergency in NSW

The Working Group will endeavour to:

  1. Prepare a NLAF briefing paper on legal response to disasters and emergency based on the experience of other States and research
  2. Propose a governance structure, plan/checklist and updating mechanism to enable an effective co-ordinated response for the NLAF members approval
  3. Develop a set of recommendations to NLAF regarding an emergency legal help co-ordination webpage and other collaborative tools

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on Employment Law Services

Convenor: Monique Hitter

Working Group: Established September 2010 and concluded December 2011

Terms of Reference

The aim of the NLAF Employment Law Services Working Group is to examine ways of increasing employment law services for socially excluded people in NSW. The Employment Law Services Working Group will endeavour to achieve its aim by undertaking the following tasks:

  1. Map the current provision of employment law services in both the public and private legal sector of NSW.
  2. Map the expressed demand for employment law services in disadvantaged communities across NSW, including mapping the levels of assistance (information, advice & minor assistance and representation) that is required.
  3. Engage in information and knowledge sharing initiatives relating to employment law services for socially excluded people in NSW and elsewhere.
  4. Investigate:
    • initiatives in other states relating to the provision of employment law services to socially excluded people; and
    • the scope to frame the need for public funding of employment law services as a national issue.
  5. Develop strategies to increase and improve access to employment law services for socially excluded people in NSW, including:
    • strategies that make use of and leverage off existing resources including collaborative initiatives within the legal services sector; and
    • strategies (outlined in order of priority) that require additional resources and advocate for those resources and services.

The working group will operate for a period of 12 months (subject to any decisions of the group to recommend that NLAF vary this timeframe).

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on Rural, Regional and Remote Lawyers

Convenor: John Dobson, President of the Law Society of NSW

Working Group: Established February 2009 and concluded December 2012

Terms of Reference

 The NLAF RRR Working Group aims to develop and promote initiatives to address the difficulties in recruitment and retention of lawyers in rural, regional and remote NSW and endeavours to ensure that recruitment and retention strategies are evidence based and involve the collaboration of stakeholders in the justice sector.

In 2012, the Working Group will:

  1. Provide support to the Law and Justice Foundation to undertake the research relating to the monitoring of vacancies in the public legal sector in NSW and respond to the research findings;
  2. Act as an advisory committee for the Legal Aid NSW Regional Outreach Clinic Program;
  3.    (a)   Finalise a proposal to:

- enable internet based delivery of legal services; and

- attract and retain professional staff,

              in remote Western NSW;

(b)  Promote the proposal to Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department; and

         (c)  In the event that a proposal is funded, act as the Steering Committee for the project.

  1. Promote the activities of the working group (including research, and strategic approaches to professional development initiatives for lawyers in RRR areas) at a national level.

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on the Legal Needs of Prisoners

Convenor: Richard Funston (Legal Aid NSW)

Working Group established February 2009 and concluded September 2010. The working group will continue to operate under the new format of the NLAF Prisoners Forum

Terms of Reference

To prioritise and, as appropriate, progress the strategies proposed by the NLAF Forum on the Legal Needs of Prisoners and to address other prison related issues referred by NLAF. In doing so, the Group is to consider special need prisoners.

Reports and Further Information

Good practice in women's prisons: A literature review
The Australian Institute of Criminology has undertaken a literature review of examples of good practice in women's prisons. Key international developments are also considered.

Working Group on the Legal Needs of Older People

Convenor: Monique Hitter (Legal Aid NSW)

The Working Group met from April 2008 to November 2008

Terms of Reference

  1. To develop a response to the recommendations made in the report of the Inquiry into Older People and the Law (September 2007)
  2. To share information on new and existing services
  3. To support the Older Persons Legal and Education Program in appropriate ways

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Working Group on Mental Illness and Access to Legal Services

Convenor: Robin Banks (PILCH)

The Working Group met between November 2006 and November 2007

Terms of Reference

  1. To collect and collate information about current strategies being implemented and best practice models to improve access to legal services for people with mental illness.
  2. To disseminate to public legal assistance services through NLAF information about best practice in the provision of legal services to people with mental illness.
  3. To develop proposals to implement best practice across public legal assistance services in the delivery of legal and related services to people with mental illness.
  4. To identify particular aspects of civil and criminal law that may impact on legal rights for people with mental illness.
  5. To identify and develop links to related mental health initiatives.


  • Review of recent research relating to barriers to the legal system and best practice models to improve access to justice for people with a mental illness.
  • Investigatation of ways to improve the interface between the legal and health systems.
  • Development of a proposal for a project that aims to research and pilot new legal service delivery models and capacity and training building models. The Mental Health Legal Services Project received 2 years funding from Legal Aid NSW, is auspiced by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), and commenced in early 2008.
  • NLAF is continuing to monitor progress of the Mental Health Legal Services Project

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on Interpreter Services

Convenor: Sue Scott (Law and Justice Foundation of NSW)

The Working Group met between June 2006 and November 2007.

Terms of Reference

The Working Group was established to explore and improve access to interpreter services for clients using public legal services.


The Group has undertaken research and consultation in the following areas:

  1. Availability of interpreters
    – availability of interpreters in new and emerging languages
    – availability of Auslan interpreters
    – availability of free interpreters for clients of community legal centres
  2. Quality of interpreting services
    – training for interpreters working in the legal system
  3. Appropriate use of interpreters
    – training and resources for the legal sector in working with interpreters

The Working Group has collated some of its findings into a resource list for legal agencies using interpreters.

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on Care and Protection

Convenor: Jane Pritchard (LawAccess NSW)

Working Group established August 2008

Terms of Reference

To establish strategies to ensure appropriate referrals in children’s care and protection matters. These will include:

  • Analysis of service providers
  • Co-ordination of training to ensure effective referrals for care and protection issues
  • Development of a Communication Strategy to inform legal and nonlegal agencies about care and protection services.

Reports and Further Information

Working Group on Access to Justice for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities

Convenor: Jane Pritchard (LawAccess)

Working Group established July 2008

Terms of Reference

The overall aim of the working group is to improve legal services to culturally and linguistically diverse communities by focusing on engagement between the legal and migrant services sectors.

That this will be achieved through:

  • identifying at least one local metropolitan area, and facilitating a process of cross-agency interaction, through information sharing and identification of partnership opportunities
  • encouraging best practice in reaching CALD communities

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on Access to Civil Law for Aboriginal People

Convenor: Scott Hawkins (Legal Aid NSW)

Working Group established January 2006 and due to conclude its work in May 2009

Terms of Reference

The purpose of the Working Group is to increase the availability of and access to civil law services for Aboriginal people in NSW. To do this, the Working Group will:

  1. Develop and implement strategies to address the unmet needs of Aboriginal people in NSW in relation to access to civil law services.
  2. Evaluate the use and effectiveness of the Guide to Legal Services for Aboriginal People in NSW and the ACT.
  3. Implement strategies to improve access to pro bono services for Aboriginal people in NSW.

Reports and Further Information

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Working Group on Conflict of Interest

Convenor: Annmarie Lumsden (Legal Aid NSW)

Working Group established January 2006

Terms of Reference

The Working Party was established to enquire into and explore issues in relation to conflict of interest for Public Legal Assistance Services which impact on the delivery of legal services to people across NSW.

The Working Party has adopted a client focused, robust and practical policy approach to managing conflict of interest. The objective is to ensure that legal services are available to the maximum number of clients without compromising services to individual clients.

Reports and Further Information

A submission has been prepared and was considered by the Ethics Committee of The Law Society of NSW.

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