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Terms of Reference

The NLAF Terms of Reference set out the aims, objectives and structure of NLAF.  These were updated and adopted in 2016.


Establishment of the New South Wales Legal Assistance Forum

  1. There is established a body known as the New South Wales Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF).
  2. NLAF may operate in the way it determines, subject to its Terms of Reference and to any protocols that are agreed to by the members.

Aims of NLAF

The aims of NLAF are to continuously improve service delivery to socially and economically disadvantaged people through improved alignment of planning, program design and service delivery by providers of legal assistance services.

Strategies of NLAF

These aims will be achieved through:

  • Collaboration and networking
  • Identifying and incorporating the best available research
  • Promotion of dialogue and debate
  • Consultation
  • Recognising and responding to emerging issues, policy and law reform
  • Promotion of co-operative arrangements for effective service delivery

Principles of NLAF

  • Respect each other’s roles and acknowledge that these roles may lead to differences of opinion about particular issues.
  • Recognise the independence and diversity of services and their approaches to legal service delivery.
  • Where possible and practical, make open communication and consultation a priority, particularly where changes to policy or service delivery are considered or advocated.
  • Be informed by a focus on real outcomes for disadvantaged people.
  • Identify gaps in legal services to disadvantaged clients and devise strategies to effectively address those gaps.
  • Aim to work by consensus in decision making and in promotion of NLAF activities whilst respecting the different roles of member organisations and their representatives.


2.1. Structure

There will be a three-tiered structure:

  1. The Executive Group (Legal Aid NSW, CLCNSW and the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW) will continue to operate, to ensure that plans and activities develop and progress between meetings of the Plenary Group and to provide support and advice to the Project Manager as required.
  2. The Plenary Group will meet to develop activities relating to policy and strategic issues, which will be informed by the Working Groups.
  3. Working Groups will form on an ad hoc basis to undertake more detailed and operational activities, to consider an issue identified of interest and to provide information and resources to the Plenary Group.

2.2. Forum Membership

NLAF will be made up from the following:

  1. Member organisations who are appointed in accordance with paragraph 2.3,
  2. A Chair appointed from the member representatives of NLAF,
  3. A Deputy Chair appointed from the member representatives of NLAF who will act as an alternate for the Chair, and
  4. the NLAF Project Manager.

2.3. Appointment of member organisations

Member organisations of NLAF are drawn from those who:

  • operate at a NSW-wide level;
  • are drawn from the peak representative bodies of organisations delivering legal assistance in NSW; and/or
  • are dealing with a wide range of legal issues impacting on disadvantaged people.

NLAF may decide to invite organisations to its membership at any time.

The member organisations are as follows:

  • Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)
  • Community Legal Centres NSW
  • Department of Justice NSW
  • Justice Connect
  • Law and Justice Foundation of NSW
  • LawAccess NSW
  • Law Society of NSW
  • Legal Aid NSW
  • Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC)
  • NSW Bar Association
  • NSW Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
  • Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

Member organisations are generally entitled to send two representatives to NLAF Plenary Group meetings, although smaller organisations such as Justice Connect and PIAC are generally expected to send one representative. Notice of a change of representative must be in writing addressed to the Chair and must be made within a reasonable period of time after the appointment.

2.4 Executive Group

The Executive Group is responsible for:

a) Ensuring plans and activities develop and progress between meetings of the Plenary Group

b) Providing support and advice to the Project Manager as required

c) Meeting with the Project Manager at least two weeks prior to each Plenary Group meeting to review the proposed agenda and discuss other relevant issues relating to NLAF plans and activities

d) Ensuring continuity of the Chair and Deputy Chair roles.

2.5 Chair and Deputy Chair

The Chair and Deputy Chair of NLAF are to be elected by a decision of the members from among themselves at the first NLAF meeting in each calendar year. The position of Chair or Deputy Chair becomes vacant when that person:

  1. resigns that position or
  2. ceases to be a representative of a member organisation of NLAF or
  3. is removed from that position by a decision of the members of NLAF.

2.5.1 Responsibilities of the Chair and Deputy Chair

The NLAF Chair is responsible for:

a) Convening quarterly meetings of the Executive and Plenary Groups

b) Ensuring NLAF Plenary and Working Group operations are consistent with NLAF Principles and Procedures

c) Has authority to sign off on NLAF correspondence and communications in line with NLAF Communication Procedures

d) If the Chair is unavailable then the Deputy Chair takes on these responsibilities.

2.6 Working Groups

  1. Working Groups will be created from time to time to work on an issue identified by NLAF.
  2. When a Working Group is set up a Lead representative will nominate to lead the Group and to coordinate activities of that Group.
  3. Working Groups will provide updates on the work undertaken and report to the Main Forum at each Forum meeting.
  4. NLAF can also request other groups to provide information or report on their work.


  1. Meetings of the Plenary Group of NLAF will be held four times a year. The Forum may schedule additional meetings as necessary.
  2. Proceedings at meetings shall not be attributed to a member or representative of NLAF unless the members resolve otherwise.


Decisions will be made by consensus and by the members present at a meeting. The Chair will speak on behalf of the Forum, unless members decide otherwise.


NLAF will keep full and accurate minutes of the proceedings of each of its meetings.


Funds allocated to NLAF must be disbursed in accordance with a decision of the members.

7. NLAF Procedures

Contact the NLAF Project Manager ( for details about the NLAF Procedures as follows:

  • A Objectives and Terms of Reference - as detailed above (updated 2016)
  • B Summary of Member Organisations (updated 2016)
  • C Communication Procedures (accepted 2017)
  • D Working Groups Procedures (accepted 2016)
  • D(i) Working Groups Template for Terms of Reference
  • D(ii) Working Groups Template for Quarterly Reporting to NLAF Plenary
  • E Quarterly Workflow Template for Project Manager (updated 2016)
  • F Structure as at 2016
  • G Project Manager Routines (created 2016)
  • H Website Procedures (drafted 2017)