Demand for help for complex legal problems continues to grow

Demand for help for complex legal problems continues to grow

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The number of vulnerable people requiring our help continues to grow, and their legal problems are becoming more complex.

Our end year summary report shows we helped 94,485 unique clients in the 2017–18 financial year, a four per cent increase on the previous year.

Download Victoria Legal Aid’s 2017–18 End year report (pdf, 702.13 KB) or the accessible Word version (176.6 KB).

We helped more people navigate family violence issues, summary crime and child protection, and the complexity of our client’s legal problems means we spent more time and money on our most intensive level of service – a grant of legal assistance.

‘Additional police and child protection officers, changes to bail laws, population growth and ongoing pressure in the Magistrates’ Court system are all contributing to the ongoing and increasing demand for our services.'

Acting Managing Director, Peter Noble.

‘Increased community awareness of family violence and the way we can assist has also seen strong growth in the advice and representation we provide for family violence matters,’ Peter said.

We have seen steady increases in the level of social and economic disadvantage our clients experience, including:

  • a 13 per cent increase in the number of our clients who were experiencing homelessness (4,942 clients)
  • a 10 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander clients (4,496 clients)
  • a seven per cent increase in clients reporting no income (26,310 clients)
  • a seven per cent increase in culturally and linguistically diverse clients (19,921 clients)
  • a five per cent increase in clients who were younger than 19 years of age (2,452 clients).

‘The community is best served if vulnerable people have early access to information and support services which help them to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their offending,’ Peter said.

‘Our free telephone advice service, Legal Help, has answered eight per cent more calls, and our community legal education team continue to reach more people with high quality training and education resources.’

In 2017–18 we increased our expenditure as planned to meet the increasing demand for our services.

This means we finished the year with a deficit of $5.3 million, compared to last year’s deficit of $10.9 million.

‘We have used welcome state government investments to ease workloads in our summary crime program, provide additional family violence and youth crime services, and increase the capacity of Legal Help,’ Peter said.

‘We are investing in new systems to benefit the whole legal assistance sector, and we are using data and evidence to ensure our limited funding is used the most efficient way.’

Key figures

  • Unique clients – 94,485, up four per cent.
  • Grants of legal assistance – 42,777, up three per cent.
  • Family violence legal services – 39,086, new measure, up 22 per cent on target set in the Victorian Budget.
  • Family violence advice sessions provided by Legal Help – 2,773, up 58 per cent.
  • Duty lawyer services – 93,564, steady.
  • Legal Help calls answered – 135,193, up eight per cent.
  • Community legal education participants – 14,854, up four per cent.

Download the 2017–18 end year summary report

Download Victoria Legal Aid’s 2017–18 End year report (pdf, 702.13 KB) or the accessible Word version (176.6 KB).

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry please contact Naomi Woodley, Senior Communications Advisor on (03) 9280 3882 or 0409 281 304, or email Naomi.Woodley@vla.vic.gov.au.

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