Legal Aid in Australia is legal assistance provided by the government. Each state and territory has its own Legal Aid Commission, which is responsible for administering Legal Aid. There are Legal Aid offices in cities, suburbs and towns across Australia.
Ways Legal Aid can help: free legal assistance
Legal Aid provides a number of free legal services which are available to anyone in the community. These include legal information and referral services and minor assistance (for example, telephone advice). In many cases they also provide duty lawyer services at certain courts.
Ways Legal Aid can help: grants of Legal Aid
Legal Aid Commissions can provide a grant of Legal Aid to an individual if their legal matter falls within the Commission’s guidelines and they live in the same state or territory. A grant of Legal Aid may be available for family law, criminal law and some civil law cases.
In order to obtain a grant of Legal Aid an individual must meet a means test and other criteria. Services provided by Legal Aid and guidelines for approval vary depending on the state/territory in which it is located. Contact Legal Aid in your state or territory for more information.
When a grant of Legal Aid is made, Legal Aid arranges for one of their in-house lawyers or a private lawyer to provide the individual with representation. If Legal Aid has a ‘legal conflict’ (i.e. they can’t represent you as they are already representing the other party in your matter) they will often be able to provide a grant of legal aid to a private lawyer to assist you.
There are almost 200 Community Legal Centres (CLCs) across Australia that provide legal assistance to those who are not able to afford legal assistance but are unable to obtain assistance from Legal Aid.
This may be because you need assistance for something that Legal Aid does not do, or because you do not qualify for Legal Aid assistance.