Victoria Legal Aid

Tips for smooth grant application approvals in ATLAS

While many simplified grants are automatically approved, our grants management system (ATLAS) can stop grants for a variety of reasons. Learn more about how to avoid a negative assessment.

Tuesday 19 March 2024 4:47am

Our Simplified Grants Process (SGP) allows practitioners to have grant applications automatically approved if an individual certifier has correctly certified means, guidelines and merits.

While many simplified grants are automatically approved, our grants management system (ATLAS) can stop simplified grants for manual assessment for a variety of reasons.

Check out the ten most common reasons why your grant may be declined for manual assessment, as well as tips on how to avoid a negative assessment and quicken your assessment.

Issue – duplicate matters

If your client has any open files in a similar law type, with similar hearing dates or at the same court location, ATLAS will flag the application as a duplicate. A grants officer will need to assess whether the application is a duplicate request.

Tip: Duplicate matter errors only occur where a client has open files. An easy way to avoid ATLAS flagging applications as duplicates is to submit file outcomes after the conclusion of every matter. Please note that once a file outcome is submitted, it can take up to two weeks for ATLAS to close the file.

Issue – no income or expenses

In applications where no income or expenses are listed, this will automatically stop a simplified grant from being auto-approved. For example, if a client has indicated that they have an income but there are no expenses listed, a grants officer will query the client’s circumstances.

Tip: Once ATLAS prompts you to do so, include a detailed note about the client’s circumstances.

Issue – retrospectives

When an application is submitted after the provided court date, ATLAS will flag the application as a retrospective.

Tip: If you submit an application on extension 0 after the court hearing date, please provide the client declaration alongside the application, so that you can avoid the delay of responding to a requisition. Furthermore, if the court hearing date is more than 14 days in the past, and ATLAS won’t let you select it, please select the closest date you can and then write the correct date in the court hearing pop-up box.

When an application states that Centrelink is the only source of income, and another form of income is listed, ATLAS stops the application for manual assessment by a grants officer.

Tip: Ensure the only time that the ‘Centrelink is the only source of income’ box is ticked is when the client received no other source of income besides Centrelink payments. This includes child support, even if child support payments are being made from Centrelink.

Issue – ineligibility under the means test

When your client has been assessed as ineligible under the means test, the application will be flagged by ATLAS and stopped for a grants officer to review.

Tip: Before you submit an application, review the means test results in the tab on the left-hand side of the application. ATLAS will indicate whether your client is eligible under the means test, which gives you an opportunity to request discretion if necessary.

Issue – where discretion is requested

Whenever you request discretion, you are requesting a grants officer to make a decision based on extenuating circumstances. Therefore, the application will not be automatically assessed by ATLAS. An officer will need to make an assessment about whether or not they are inclined to exercise discretion.

Tip: Any necessary documentation relating to the discretion request should be uploaded alongside the application in order to minimise delays regarding making an assessment. Please note, we may still ask for further documentation if required.

Issue – non-standard disbursements

When you request a non-standard disbursement, ATLAS does not automatically approve it. This is because a grants officer must assess the request, and if approved, manually input the fee required.

Tip: If there is not an option to input an existing disbursement (such as an interpreter), please input the amount required in the ‘special disbursement’ text box, and submit the invoice alongside the application for more efficient assessment.

If your client has previously paid private legal fees, and you indicate this on their application, ATLAS will stop automatic processing. This is because a grants officer must assess whether or not you are entitled to claim the full amount of fees you have applied for. For example, if your client has previously paid you to prepare for their matter, you may no longer be entitled to the full preparation fees applied for.

Tip: Please submit the invoices for work that was privately paid for alongside your submission of the application. This ensures that a grants officer can quickly assess your application.

Issue – Family Violence – Matter type

When submitting an application for a Family Violence Intervention Order matter, it is important to select the correct ‘matter type’. Due to there being multiple different matter types which can be selected, it is important to select the most up-to-date types.

Tip: Please only select the matter types beginning with ‘FV APP’. Please do not select ‘FVIO Hearing’ or ‘FV Safety Notices’ as these will automatically stop in our ATLAS workpool, even if guideline, means and merit have been certified. Please note that not all ‘FV APP’ matter types will be automatically approved. For example, respondent and AFM revocations must be manually assessed.

Issue – Allocation to different lawyers

There is an option in ATLAS to assign applications to different firms. This option exists only to assign the application to a completely different firm, rather than members within a firm.

Tip: When ATLAS prompts you with the question, ‘Do you want this application to be assigned to another law firm?’, please select ‘no’ unless you are requesting that the application be assigned to another firm.

More information

For more information, or if you have any questions regarding your training needs, email or visit ATLAS updates and supportExternal Link .

Reviewed 19 March 2024