Legal help outside Australia
I live outside Australia, and need help with a legal matter in Australia
Self-help legal information
There’s a wide range of free information about Australian law available online and through telephone advice services – see Self-Help Legal Information.
Australian legal services
There are many legal services in each Australian state and territory that provide free or reduced-rate legal assistance. Most, however, are only able to help you if you are an Australian citizen, or if you live in Australia. Some may be able to provide you with limited legal advice, or refer you to another organisation that can help you. These include:
- Legal Aid
Legal aid commissions provide legal advice and legal representation in criminal, family and civil law matters. However, not everyone is eligible for legal aid. To be eligible, you must satisfy:
- the means test (what you earn and what you own)
- the merits test (whether it is reasonable in all the circumstances to grant legal aid)
- the relevant legal aid commission’s guidelines –usually you must provide an address in Australia.
Many, however, can provide limited legal advice. For more information see Legal Aid in Australia.
- Community Legal Centres
There are many community legal centres throughout Australia. They can either be generalist or specialist legal service providers.
- A generalist CLC provides legal services in a range of areas of law and will generally service a particular geographic area, such as a local government area.
- A specialist CLC provides legal services in relation to a particular area of law or to a particular group of persons with special needs (e.g. the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service).
In most cases they can only assist those that live in their catchment area or state. For more information see Community Legal Centres.
- Pro Bono Referral Schemes & Organisations
Pro bono referral schemes and organisations can assist individuals and not-for-profit organisations by referring legal matters to solicitors, law firms or barristers who are willing to take on matters pro bono (i.e. free of charge or for a substantially reduced rate).
In many cases they can only assist those that live and/or have a legal matter in their state or territory. For more information see Pro Bono Referral Schemes & Organisations.
I live in Australia, and need help with a legal matter outside Australia
If you live in Australia, and have a legal matter arising overseas, generally you’ll need to obtain legal assistance in that country. Here are a some places you can try:
- Local bar association or law society
A professional bar association or law society in that country – if there is one – is a good place to start to find a local pro bono scheme or a lawyer who can help you.
- Australian embassy or consulate
The Australian embassy or consulate in that country may be able to refer you to an appropriate local legal assistance service.
- Initial advice
For initial advice about whether you can obtain assistance in in a matter concerning the laws of another country, contact Legal Aid in your state or territory, your local Community Legal Centre, a pro bono referral scheme or organisation, or this Centre to discuss your options.
- International child abduction
If your matter concerns international child abduction, legal assistance may be available in Australia. International Social Service Australia provides legal services across international borders for families experiencing international parental child abduction.
Pro bono organisations outside Australia
For a list of key pro bono organisations outside Australia, see International Pro Bono Organisations. However, note that only some of these organisations operate as pro bono referral organisations, and that some connect only ‘not-for-profit’ organisations, rather than individuals with pro bono lawyers.