Means Test Review

Means Test Review

Victoria Legal Aid is undertaking a review of our means test. The goal of the Means Test Review is to establish fairer and more easily understood means test to ensure our services are properly targeted to those most in need.

We will be consulting broadly to develop ideas for reform to the means test. We will be seeking input from people who need our services, including lawyers and a broad range of community sector organisations. We will be encouraging people to share their ideas and experience.

What the review will cover

The purpose of the means test review is to:

  • consult broadly to examine possible changes to our means test to ensure that more Victorians who really need it, qualify for legal aid
  • develop and implement a revised means test and contributions policy that is simple to understand, flexible, efficient to administer, financially sustainable and fair.

The review process

The means test review will comprise five stages:

  • Scoping – What are we trying to achieve? What do we need to know?
  • Consultation and review – What do our key stakeholders think? What are the options for change?
  • Options for decision – What changes should we make?
  • Implementation – How do we make this happen?
  • Evaluation and project reflections – How did we go? What can we learn from the process? What more can be done?

We are currently in the consultation and review phase. If you would like to contribute, go to yoursay.vla.vic.gov.au to share your story.

Why we are undertaking this review

Demand for legal assistance sector services exceeds supply. Victoria Legal Aid uses eligibility tools to ensure that resources are targeted to those most in need of legal assistance. Financial eligibility, measured by the means test, is the first hurdle of eligibility for a grant of legal assistance.

It is broadly accepted that the means test has not kept pace with living costs and that vulnerable people are missing out on our services. In its recent report into Access to Justice, the Productivity Commission found that there are more people living in poverty (14 per cent) than are eligible for legal aid (8 per cent). They recommended an immediate injection of funds to extend financial eligibility. To date, this recommendation has not been met with government action.

We also called for increased investment in legal assistance services in our recent Access to Justice Submission, including an expansion of financial eligibility for grants of legal assistance.

More information

For any queries about the review, please email meanstestreview@vla.vic.gov.au

For general queries about legal aid eligibility, please phone 1300 792 387.