Family Law Legal Aid Services Review

Family Law Legal Aid Services Review

Victoria Legal Aid undertook a review of family law legal aid services to ensure they are fair, as widely available as possible and sustainable.

We want to improve family law legal aid services but we also need to make sure they are sustainable and not as vulnerable to policy and financial changes as they have been in the past.

Actions from the review

Our final report sets out 35 actions for change that Victoria Legal Aid has determined it will adopt in response to the review.

This report is presented under five main issues or themes:

We are currently tracking well against our first year commitments and on track to commence and deliver our year two commitments. Find out more about the implementation of the 35 actions for change.

The consultation process

The review followed a three-stage consultation process to map and review existing services and identify opportunities for improvement:

  • a review of services and preliminary discussions with key stakeholders: we consulted with stakeholders on issues affecting the review in September–November 2014
  • written submissions: in January 2015 a consultation and options paper sought feedback to help shape our thinking about which options to take forward
  • publishing the recommendations: the final report was released in June 2015.

Find out more about the consultation process.

Why we undertook the review

We are committed to delivering high quality legal services and to making the most economic use of a limited legal aid fund.

This requires regular review of our service delivery models, to ensure the appropriate mix of services targeted to the right people, at the right intensity and at the right time.

Family law legal aid services in Victoria have historically been subject to regular expansions and contractions in eligibility, due to changes in funding levels, costs of services and legislation and processes in the family law system. As a result, there has often been a lack of consistency and certainty for legal aid clients and practitioners who help them, and today we have a large mix of different family law services being offered, including under legal aid grant guidelines that have become quite complex.

Read more about the history of legal aid and family law in Victoria.

In early 2013 Victoria Legal Aid made a broad suite of changes to its eligibility guidelines across the criminal, civil and family and children’s law areas to ensure services remained financially sustainable in the face of record demand and increased costs. This included changes to family law guidelines covering assistance for family mediation and family law court proceedings.

We acknowledge that these changes have been difficult for many people and have recently taken action to reduce the effect of these on some of our most vulnerable clients. However, this has also highlighted that a more comprehensive review of our family law service approach would be a valuable exercise.

The focus of the review of family law legal aid services was to consider how we can consolidate what we are getting right, and make necessary changes where legal aid service delivery is not efficient, of a high enough standard of quality or targeted to the right clients.

Well designed family law services will help us prevent legal problems, resolve disputes quickly and effectively and play a vital role in keeping families safe.