Victoria Legal Aid

Our history: 1990–99

In 1995 the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria was replaced with a new body, Victoria Legal Aid. In this decade we continued our expansion in regional Victoria with the opening of our Bairnsdale office.

Walsh Street murders

The Legal Aid Commission of Victoria was involved in controversy in the 1991 Walsh Street murder trial over its representation of two men accused of murdering police constables Steven Tynan and Damian Eyre. Both defendants were ultimately acquitted at trial.

Following two government reviews, it was decided in 1995 to replace the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria with a new body, Victoria Legal Aid, making the management structure more streamlined, professional and efficient.

Bairnsdale office

We opened a regional office in Bairnsdale in 1995.

New Commonwealth funding arrangements

In 1996 the Commonwealth Government terminated the existing Commonwealth/state legal aid funding agreements. Under the new funding formula, Commonwealth funding to legal aid commissions across the country was reduced and could only be used for Commonwealth legal matters, a distinction that exists today.

Challenging the Control of Weapons Act 1990

We successfully represented a client who was found guilty of possessing a regulated weapon under the Control of Weapons Act 1990 for wearing a studded belt. The Supreme Court Justice agreed with our argument that the belt was not a regulated weapon under the Act because anything that is not in common use as a weapon cannot be classed as a weapon.

Port Arthur tragedy

Following the tragic death of 35 people and the wounding of 21 others at Port Arthur in 1996, we assisted 65 victims with claims under the Port Arthur Victims Appeal Fund.

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

Reviewed 17 March 2022

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