Our client information services

Our information services dealt with 26,462 criminal law enquiries (up by 25.7%), covering 31,790 criminal law matters (up by 29.6%).

Referrals

We referred 21,957* matters to appropriate external agencies (up by 13%).

The top five referrals were:

  • private practitioners
  • courts
  • generalist community legal centres
  • police and other law enforcement agencies
  • the Law Institute of Victoria.

We also referred clients to non-legal services, including drug and alcohol counselling, social welfare services and anger management counselling.

* We make appropriate referrals to other services (non-legal as well as legal) that may be relevant to a client’s needs. We also refer clients to external agencies when we are unable to help, for example, if we have a conflict of interest or we cannot provide assistance because of the nature of the matter.

Free legal advice

We provided 17,442 legal advice, minor assistance and advocacy services (down by 4%).

We also provided legal advice at court for people who needed it most through our duty lawyer services.

Number of duty lawyer services for criminal matters

Legal provider Number of services % change*
Victoria Legal Aid lawyers 54,748 17% up
Private practitioners 5,121 2% up
Total 59,869 16% up

* Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14.

Criminal in-house duty lawyer services

  • 89% of duty lawyer services were provided in the Magistrates’ Court of which 7% dealt with breaches of family violence intervention orders.
  • 6% of duty lawyer services were provided in the Children’s Court of which 32% dealt with theft offences.

Number of grants of legal assistance for criminal matters

Legal provider Number of grants % change*
Victoria Legal Aid lawyers 7,558 16% up
Private practitioners 12,413 2% down
Community legal centres 155 22% down
Total 20,126 4% up

* Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14.

Number of grants by sub-program*

Sub-program Number of grants % change*
Appellate Crime 889 6% down
Indictable Crime** 1,858 13% down
Sexual Offences 1,031 15% up
Summary Crime** 12,604 6% up
Youth Crime 3,744 8% up
Total program 20,126 4% up

* Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14.

** This does not include sexual offences or youth crime matters dealt with by our Sexual Offences and Youth Crime sub-programs respectively.

Services provided by private practitioners

  • Private practitioners received 62% of the grants of legal assistance for criminal matters.
  • 55% of these cases were assigned to 20 private practitioner firms.
  • Total expenditure for criminal law matters received by private practitioners was $31.1 million (down by $1.3 million).
  • 56% of the total private practitioner expenditure was by 20 private practitioner firms.

* In previous years barristers were briefed and paid directly by solicitor firms, with funds provided for this purpose under a grant of legal assistance. This meant payment records were not collected or held by Victoria Legal Aid. In September 2013 Victoria Legal Aid commenced direct payment to barristers, once private practitioners authorised and submitted online claims that work had been performed. In November 2013 this practice became mandatory and, following the support of the Law Institute of Victoria, has been adopted by practitioners.

Legal information services*

Number of services % change**
31,790 34% up

* This data covers information services provided by phone and face-to-face, and includes services provided in our suburban and regional offices. It excludes our website, publications and targeted community legal education sessions.

** Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14.

Top five matters*

Matter type Number of matters
Common assault ** 7,635
Drive while licence suspended 6,978
Breach of family violence protection order 6,952
Theft 6,395
Miscellaneous criminal offences*** 5,394

* This includes matters for grants, advice, duty lawyer services and our phone service.

** Common assault does not include assault with weapons, assault with intent to rape, intentionally or recklessly causing serious injury, recklessly causing injury or assault with intent to rob.

*** Miscellaneous criminal offences include defamation and libel, offences against privacy, public health and safety offences, and illicit drug offences.