Legal assistance services
There is a range of services that can assist people with a legal problem. These services are delivered by legal assistance providers. Different legal assistance providers operate in all states and territories. Each of these services provide different levels of legal information and advice.
The Attorney-General and the Attorney-General’s Department cannot provide people with legal advice or provide them with a lawyer.
The Legal Aid Schemes and Services Approval 2021 commenced on 15 March 2021.
It allows people who receive legal assistance from the organisations listed within it to be exempt from court fees (e.g. document filing or service provision fees).
It applies to court fees payable in proceedings before the:
- Family Court
- Federal Circuit Court
- Federal Court
- High Court.
The 2021 approval instrument updates the 2013 approval instrument to:
- reflect organisational name changes
- incorporate new legal assistance organisations receiving government funding
- remove organisations that no longer exist.
On 15 March 2022 the 2021 approval instrument was modified to include the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) Ltd as an approved legal aid service for the purpose of exempting persons who receive legal assistance from paying court fees.
Download a copy of the Legal Aid Schemes and Services Approval 2021.
Legal aid commissions
Legal Aid Commissions are independent statutory bodies. Legal aid commissions provide a range of services, including information, legal advice and representation in courts and tribunals. Information and services including telephone advice are often free of charge. However, to be eligible for representation through a grant of aid, applicants must satisfy means and merits tests set by legal aid commissions.
There is a legal aid commission in each state and territory:
- Legal Aid Australian Capital Territory
- Legal Aid New South Wales
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission
- Legal Aid Queensland
- Legal Services Commission of South Australia
- Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
- Victoria Legal Aid
- Legal Aid Western Australia
Family Advocacy and Support Service
Each Australian state and territory legal aid commission has a Family Advocacy and Support Service. The service combines free legal advice and support at court for people affected by domestic and family violence.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services are funded for the delivery of culturally appropriate and safe legal assistance services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services. More information can be found on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services website.
Community Legal Centres
Community Legal Centres are independent, community-managed, non-profit services that provide a range of assistance on legal and related matters to people experiencing disadvantage and/or with special needs.
Community Legal Centres are a key component of Australia's legal assistance system. They complement and extend the services provided by legal aid commissions and the private profession.
More information on community legal centres can be found on the Community Legal Centres Australia website.
Specialist domestic violence services and health justice partnerships
The Australian Government provides ongoing funding to specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships. These services help people affected by family and domestic violence who may otherwise be unable to access the support they need.
Family Relationship Centres
Family Relationship Centres help people seeking information about family relationships at all stages – forming new relationships, overcoming relationship difficulties or dealing with separation. Family Relationship Centres specialise in providing people with Family Dispute Resolution mediation sessions to help them to agree on parenting arrangements. More information on Family Relationship Centres can be found on Family Relationships Online website.
Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
Family Violence Prevention Legal Services provide culturally sensitive assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors and victims of family violence and sexual assault, working collaboratively with other service providers to deliver appropriate, accessible, equitable, efficient and effective legal assistance and related services to victim-survivors of family violence. More information can be found on the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services website.
People seeking assistance in the Top End and East Arnhem Land from a Family Violence Prevention Legal Service can contact the North Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Service.
Commonwealth legal financial assistance
The Australian Government provides Commonwealth legal financial assistance for people requiring assistance with a Commonwealth law matter or an overseas legal matter who do not qualify for assistance from legal aid.