What is Legal Aid?
Legal aid can help you meet the costs associated with legal advice, mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.
To be eligible for a grant of legal aid individuals need to show that they cannot afford to pay for this help by meeting a means test.
So what is Legal Aid?
Legal aid was introduced by the Federal Government in 1973 to provide free or low-cost legal assistance to people who would otherwise be denied access to justice due to their financial situation.
In Australia, Legal Aid is administered and funded at state and territory level but operates independently of government.
Legal Aid extends legal services through a panel of independent lawyers and law firms through grants of legal aid. They also work closely with organisations and associations such as community legal centres and educational institutions.
Who can get legal aid?
Whether an individual qualifies legal aid will depend on:
- Their type of legal matter
- chances of success
- their financial situation
- and whether or not legal aid has sufficient funds available
Legal Aid doesn’t deal with every type of legal problem and it’s important to note that some services may only available to vulnerable or disadvantaged clients in the community.
What can I get Legal Aid for?
Legal aid is generally available in all states and territories for the following matters:
- Either face to face, over by telephone or videoconference
- Through duty lawyers at court or legal advice sessions.
Depending on your jurisdiction legal aid may be available for people:
- requiring legal advice or representation with criminal charges
- who have been arrested as a suspect by police
- wanting help with an appeal against conviction or sentence
- requiring assistance from prison
Civil legal services may be available to people who are:
- having problems with housing
- victims of natural disasters
- having migration issues
- being or have been discriminated
- having problems with Centrelink
- detained in hospital under mental health
- and more
Please note that Legal Aid is no longer available for most matters relating to personal injury.
Read more about Legal Aid and personal injury here.
Who cant get legal Aid?
Legal aid is generally not available for:
- Anyone who fails to meet the means or merit test
- businesses or organisations
- commercial transactions
- preparing powers of attorney
- property matters
- the writing of wills
- matters relating to taxation or superannuation
- planning and environmental
- local government issues
- personal injury (but the Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme or a no win no fee lawyer may be able to help)
How do I contact Legal Aid?
Below is a list of:
- Australian Capital Territory – Legal Aid ACT
- New South Wales – Legal Aid NSW
- Victoria – Victoria Legal Aid
- Queensland – Legal Aid Queensland
- Western Australia – Legal Aid WA
- South Australia – Legal Services Commission of South Australia
- Northern Territory – Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission
- Tasmania – Legal Aid Tasmania