The legal assistance landscape

The legal assistance landscape

This snapshot is about legal assistance in Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid’s role in the sector.

Who provides legal assistance in Victoria?

In Victoria there are five major providers of legal assistance services – private lawyers, community legal centres, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid.

Victoria Legal Aid is both a provider and funder of legal assistance services. It provides services direct to the Victorian community, while also co-ordinating funding to community legal centres and selected private lawyers.

For more information read who we work with.

Private lawyers

In 2016–17, 73 per cent of all grants of legal assistance made by Victoria Legal Aid were assigned to private lawyers to represent legally aided clients. Private lawyers also provide duty lawyer services at courts around the state.

Community legal centres

Community legal centres provide free advice, casework and legal education to their communities.

Some are generalist centres that assist people with issues such as credit and debt, family law, family violence, victims of crime compensation and neighbourhood disputes, while others specialise in particular areas of law, such as tenancy, consumer, employment, human rights, environmental, immigration law.

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service was established in the 1970s to meet the needs of Indigenous people, working to ensure that they enjoy their legal rights and have access to legal representation in courts. It is also actively involved in community education, research and advocacy around law reform and policy development.

Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria 

Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria was established in 2002 to provide assistance to victims of family violence and sexual assault and to work with families and communities affected by violence. It provides legal advice, referrals, ongoing casework and court representation. It also engages in community legal education and community development activities, as well as policy and law reform directed towards systemic change.

Victoria Legal Aid lawyers

Victoria Legal Aid lawyers represent people on grants of assistance in criminal, family and civil law matters, and provide the majority of duty lawyer services around the state.

Our staff also provide legal information and advice to the community.  We do this through legal education sessions in the community, through the resources on our website, and over the phone. In 2016-17 our Legal Help phone line took more than 125,000 calls.

See our annual report for more about our services and performance in 2016–17

Eligibility guidelines

Despite the widespread legal need in the community, not everyone is able to get legal assistance. Our funds are finite and we must prioritise our resources towards the people who need our help most.

It is part of our Board’s responsibility to set priorities for the provision of legal aid and control and administer the legal aid fund.

Some of our services are available to everyone, while some of our more intensive services are offered to people who need it the most.

We set eligibility guidelines to determine who can get a grant of legal assistance and the type of matters we can help with.

In deciding who gets a grant we consider a number of factors including a person’s financial situation using a means test, what the matter is about, the likely benefit to the person and if helping a person will benefit the public.

Read more about who is eligible for help and how you can get a lawyer to run your case.

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