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.
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 . Private lawyers also provide duty lawyer services at courts around the state.
Community legal centres
Community legal 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 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 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.
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 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.
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Reviewed 18 May 2022