Our client information services

Our information services dealt with 43,203 family, youth and children’s law enquiries (up by 21.9%), covering 50,083 family, youth and children’s law matters (up by 22.4%).

Referrals

We made 33,046* referrals to appropriate external agencies (up by 9%).

The top five referrals were:

  • private practitioners
  • generalist community legal centres
  • the Law Institute of Victoria
  • courts
  • dispute resolution services.

We also referred clients to non-legal services, including family relationship centres, financial counselling, family support and family violence services.

* 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 14,048 legal advice, minor assistance and advocacy services (up by 4%).

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

Number of duty lawyer services for family, youth and children’s law matters

Legal provider Number of services % change*
Victoria Legal Aid lawyers 16,135 10% up
Private practitioners 1,602 35% up
Total 17,737 12% up

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

In-house duty lawyer services for family, youth and children’s law

  • 73% of duty lawyer services were provided for family violence intervention orders matters, of which 89% were handled by our suburban and regional offices and 3% were in the Children’s Court.
  • 16% of duty lawyer services were provided for child protection matters, of which 56% were handled by our suburban and regional offices.
  • 77% of duty lawyer services were provided in the Magistrates’ Court, 13% in the Children’s Court, 8% in the Family Law Courts, and 1% in the Neighbourhood Justice Centre.

Number of grants of legal assistance for family, youth and children’s law matters

Legal provider Number of grants % change*
Victoria Legal Aid lawyers 2,571 4% up
Private practitioners 10,486 1% up
Community legal centres 169 13% up
Total 13,226 2% up

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

Number of grants by sub-program*

Sub-program Number of grants % change*
Child Protection 6,704 8% up
Family Law Financial Support 578 3% down
Family Violence 1,910 3% up
Independent Children's Lawyers 1,005 13% up
Parenting Disputes 1,241 18% down
Family Dispute Resolution 1,788 8% down
Total program 13,226 2% up

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

Services provided by private practitioners

  • Private practitioners received 79% of the grants of legal assistance for family law matters.
  • 48% of these cases were assigned to 20 private practitioner firms.
  • Total expenditure for family law matters received by private practitioners, including to barristers, was $27.8 million (up by $1 million).*
  • 45% 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**
50,083 24% up

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

** Percentage changes are based on comparison with 2013–14. 

Top five matters*

Matter type Number of matters
Family violence intervention orders 24,361
Spending time with children 13,655
Property settlement 7,145
Who children live with 6,767
Parenting plans 4,906

* This includes matters for our telephone service, early intervention services, duty lawyer services and grants of legal assistance.