Our history: 2010 and beyond

Our history: 2010 and beyond

National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services

In June 2010 the Commonwealth and state and territory governments signed a new National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (pdf, 873KB). Among other matters, the agreement prioritised the earlier resolution of legal problems, the targeting of legal assistance services to people who experience, or are at risk of experiencing, social exclusion, and more 'joined up' service provision to address legal and other problems.

Our 30th anniversary

In 2011 we celebrated 30 years of helping poor and disadvantaged Victorians with their legal problems. In three decades we had funded 1,075,373 cases, provided legal advice on more than 1.1 million occasions, provided information on the phone more than 1.8 million times, and advised people at court more than 1.2 million times. We had also grown from a city headquarters and four branch offices, to a head office and 14 offices in suburban and regional centres.

Equal Opportunity Legal Service

In 2012 we launched the Equal Opportunity Legal Service in conjunction with the Public Interest Law Clearing House, to give low-income and disadvantaged people greater access to legal advice and representation when dealing with complaints of discrimination, vilification and sexual harassment.

Establishing Victoria Legal Aid Chambers

In 2013 we established Victoria Legal Aid Chambers to better support our advocacy priorities across all our legal practice areas and deliver high quality legal services to our clients.

To ensure transparency , accountability and the efficient use of resources, we implemented a financial performance model to measure the cost and value of the advocacy, training and advice provided by Chambers.

Launching 1300 Legal Help number

In June 2013 we launched our new Legal Help phone number – 1300 792 387 – accessible Australia-wide for the cost of a local call from landlines. As the main phone entry point for people with a legal problem, it has made it easier and cheaper for people to contact us.

Increasing access to justice for clients with a mental illness

In 2014 we helped more clients with a mental illness through a significant increase in representation (via duty lawyer services and grants of legal assistance) before the Mental Health Review board. We were able to represent more people due to the growth of our Mental Health and Disability Advocacy program, made possible by a three-year grant form the Victorian Government and re-investment of savings made in other areas.

We now have specialist lawyers in our offices in Dandenong, Geelong, Bendigo and Melbourne, and provide extra support to our lawyers in other regional offices. We have also expanded our practice to include clients on community treatment orders and set up pilot clinics in community mental health facilities.