Our history

Our history

The early years to 1979

The idea of legal aid is more than 100 years old in Victoria. Initially only available to prisoners and very poor people, eligibility for legal aid broadened in 1928 with the introduction of an official body to means test and administer aid to disadvantaged Victorians.

Read about the early years to 1979.


In 1981 we opened as the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria and by the end of the decade had 11 offices across the state. We also opened our Public Law Library and started Australia’s first country legal education programs in Wangaratta and Warrnambool.

Read about 1980–89.


In 1995 we became Victoria Legal Aid. The decade also saw changes to Commonwealth funding arrangements and the opening of our Bairnsdale office. Following the Port Arthur shootings in 1996, we assisted victims with claims under the Port Arthur Victims Appeal Fund.

Read about 1990–99.


We established our Roundtable Dispute Management service to help families resolve their disputes before ending up in the family courts. We also answered our one millionth call via our Legal Information Service and assisted victims of the Black Saturday bushfires.

Read about 2000–09.


We made submissions into the police shooting of teenager Tyler Cassidy, launched the Equal Opportunity Legal Service, and ran several important test cases regarding infringement notices, aggravated people smuggling and discrimination. We launched our new Mallee regional office, launched our Independent Mental Health Advocacy Service and Independent Family Advocacy and Support.

Read about 2010–19.

2020 and beyond

We launched our Client-first Strategy and Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. We began our Help Before Court service, which represents a new approach to improving people’s experience of going to court.

Read about 2020 and beyond.


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