If you are developing community legal information, the resources on this webpage can help you:
- use plain language to improve accessibility and quality
- scope legal need and plan community legal information
- think about collaborating with us, or using our community legal information
- think about the effectiveness of your community legal information.
If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions for other resources we could include, please email our Community Legal Education team at email@example.com
What is community legal information?
Community legal information is general information about the law, legal processes and referrals. It can help people understand their rights and responsibilities, how the legal system works and where to get help.
Community legal information comes in many formats – videos, fact sheets, webpages and more.
Victoria Legal Aid, community legal centres and other organisations develop community legal information in response to community needs.
Guides for creating community legal information
Plain language and style
Plain language is clear, simple, modern language. It uses only as many words as necessary. It avoids jargon, unnecessary legal expressions and complex language.
Writing in plain language does not mean you need to ‘dumb down’ the law. It means your writing is clear and concise so your audience can understand it.
You are using plain language if your audience can easily:
- find what they need
- understand what they find
- use what they find to meet their needs.
Some of the key writing techniques of plain language are:
- a logical structure
- everyday, straightforward language
- active voice
- short sentences, not more than 22 words
- using ‘you’ and ‘we’.
For examples of these writing techniques, and other plain language suggestions, see our Plain language writing guide (docx, 255.22 KB) to promote consistency, accessibility and high quality in our written materials.
We also use:
- the Australian Government Style for any plain language or style issues not included in our guide
- the Macquarie for spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation rules
If you are creating digital content, you may find the Victorian government’s best practice guidelines helpful. See Writing guidelines and style .
The Victoria Law Foundation offers free Better information and low-cost Plain language for professionals. It also has a library of Helpful communication .
We follow the Web Contents Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make sure all community members can access our online information.
For more information about accessibility standards and guidance on developing community legal information that is accessible and inclusive, see:
- Accessible and inclusive in the Australian Government Style Manual
- Victorian Government Make content accessible – digital for creating digital content that is accessible for people with disabilities
- People with Disability Australia Language , written by people with disability
- Victorian Government LGBTIQ+ inclusive language .
Planning and scoping
Before developing something new, see if you can use or adapt existing community legal information to meet the need you have identified.
You might also consider data about your issue or audience using the National Legal Needs .
The Victoria Law Foundation’s Lessons from shares insights about successful project planning in the legal assistance sector.
Working together on community legal information
Sharing and extending our reach
We are open to sharing our community legal information and avoiding duplication whenever possible.
We encourage you to link to the community legal information on our website. That way, your clients and community can access the most recent information we have.
You may also use or adapt community legal information that we develop. Our community legal information is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. That means you are free to re-use the work under that licence, on the condition that you credit Victoria Legal Aid as author, indicate if changes were made and follow other licence terms. The licence does not apply to any images, photographs or branding, including the Victoria Legal Aid logo.
Please contact us if you have any questions, or to let us know that you are using our content.
Supporting you to extend your reach
We are developing guidelines about when we can electronically share and promote community legal information made by community legal centres. Until then, we will consider any request on a case-by-case basis.
Please contact our Community Legal Education Program if you have any queries or would like to request our support.
Effective community legal information
There is a growing body of research and evidence about the effectiveness of community legal education and information.
Victoria Legal Aid evaluations:
- Learning the law: an online suite of teaching tools
- What’s the law? Australian law for new arrivals
- Below the belt: a phone app
- Evaluation projects
- Law and Justice Foundation of New South , especially:
- Uptake of legal self-help resources: what works, for whom and for what?, Justice issues paper
- How people solve legal problems: level of disadvantage and legal capability, Justice issues paper
- Beyond great expectations: modest, meaningful and measurable community legal education and information, Justice issues paper
- Self-Help , Lois R. Lupica, University of Maine
Community legal education made easy (pdf, 1.42 MB) is a series of fact sheets developed by the Community Development and Community Legal Education Working Group of the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need this information in a different format.
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