LEGAL AID WA
319. Hon PETER COLLIER to
the Leader of the House representing the Attorney General:
I ask this question on behalf of Hon
Michael Mischin, who is on urgent parliamentary business.
I refer to the Attorney General's
media release of 31 March titled ''Legal Aid increases help to Western Australians
amid COVID-19 crisis'', wherein he claims —
Western Australians who are
experiencing hardship because of COVID-19 now have greater access to legal
support, with Legal Aid WA increasing its services in the community.
(1) By what measurable amount have
services been increased?
(2) By what figure have appointments
in the area of high need been increased?
(3) To what
extent has the announced increase in services been at the cost of other
services, and which services and to what extent?
(4) Have any
additional resources or funds been allocated to Legal Aid WA to provide the
increased services in areas of high need; and, if so, precisely what resources
or funds and from where have those resources or funds been drawn?
(5) If the
resources or funds have been reallocated within Legal Aid WA to help provide
the increased services in areas of high need, precisely what resources and
funds and from where have those resources or funds been drawn?
I think that is
about three questions!
The PRESIDENT: Yes. I am not
sure how we are going with the definition of ''concise'' on that,
and I anticipate that we will not meet that with the answer either!
We will not, Madam President. It is
a very long answer. I would not normally do this, but on the basis that it is
about two and a half pages long, I seek leave to have it incorporated into Hansard.
The following material was
what measurable amount have services been increased?
Aid WA is increasing the number of civil law legal assistance services to Western
Australians who are experiencing hardship because of COVID 19. Legal Aid WA is
now providing more appointments in areas of high need including employment law,
mortgage hardship, elder abuse, consumer protection, credit and debt and
financial hardship. Specialist immigration law advice is also available to
anyone residing in Western Australia on a temporary visa (such as a partner
visa) who is experiencing family and domestic violence. The number of civil law
legal advice appointments has increased by 10 per week, with additional
appointments being added as demand continues to increase.
Legal Aid WA has responded to the anticipated increase in
family violence in Western Australia by increasing the capacity of Legal Aid WA's telephone
Infoline, with a high priority on family violence related matters. 10 duty
lawyers that are experienced dealing with
family violence matters have been reallocated to provide assistance on family
violence related matters. 5 Legal Aid Staff have been reallocated and trained
to deliver triage advice appointments in Family Violence and will take direct
referrals from the Infoline. Legal Aid will continue to provide family violence
related legal advice, duty lawyer and legal representation services. This
includes continuing Family Violence
Restraining Order duty lawyer services; protection and care duty lawyer
services; and the family violence legal support services at the Family
Court of WA both for Perth and regional circuits;
In response to covid-19, Legal Aid WA has developed new
fact sheets and two-minute videos that are available on the Legal Aid WA website. These new resources provided targeted
information on employment law, financial hardship, immigration law,
co-parenting order, and criminal law duty lawyer services. The new covid-19
resources on the Legal Aid WA website have been accessed by over 400 unique
viewers since the resources were uploaded on Thursday 26 March.
Aid WA has allocated more resources to support its online chat service and its
telephone Infoline to meet the needs of people self-isolating at home. At this point there has been no increase in
demand for services delivered through Infoline or Infochat, however we expect an increase as the more WA residents
self-isolate at home. To prepare for this expected increase in demand 5 Legal
Aid Staff have been reallocated and trained to take referrals from
Infoline and deliver triage advice appointments in Family Violence.
what figure have appointments in areas of 'high need' been
has been an increase of 10 appointments per week of civil law legal advice
appointments. This number will increase as the demand for the service continues
to increase. To support this 6 civil law lawyer are now available to take on
new appointments as demand continues to increase.
capacity for Legal Aid WA to provide legal advice on family violence has
increased with 10 duty lawyers reallocated to provide advice, and 5 legal aid staff reallocated to provide triage service on
referrals from the Infoline. The expected increase in family violence is
based on the data that has emerged from other countries affected by covid-19.
what extent has the announced increase in services been at the cost of other
services, and which and to what extent?
Aid WA has re-allocated resources from areas that have 'slowed'
due to COVID-19 to other areas that will experience a surge in demand. Changes
in the Courts listing arrangements including in respect of the personal
attendance of clients and solicitors at Courts has facilitated the availability
of these staff to provide telephone advice and representation as required.
Community Legal Education has significantly reduced due to restrictions on
group gatherings. These areas with surplus capacity enable a re-allocating of
staff and resources to emerging COVID-19 legal issues.
(4) Have any additional resources or funds been
allocated to Legal Aid WA to be able to provide the increased services in 'areas
of high need' and, if so, precisely what resources or funds and from
where have those resources or funds been drawn?
reduction No additional resources or funds have been allocated to Legal Aid WA.
The increased services in areas of high need are due to internal re-allocations
(5) If resources or funds have been re-allocated within
Legal Aid WA to be able to provide the increased services in 'areas of
high need' precisely what resources and funds and from where have those
resources or funds been drawn?
see answer to 3. In addition, LegalResources from the Family Court Duty Lawyers
and FASS services have been redirected to offer Triage and Legal Advice over
the phone. Legal Aid reception staff have been retrained to provide services to
support Infoline and InfoChat.