Performance against target* – community legal education and information services

Our performance this year against our target for providing legal information services over the telephone or face-to-face (by number of matters) and via community education activities (by number of sessions) is as follows:

2014–15 target 2014–15 outcome % variance
90,000 137,668 53

The outcome for 2014–15 includes 137,342 information services (up by 23%), with increases in information calls dealt with by Legal Help combined with our implementing the triage process across all suburban and regional offices. This is consistent with directions under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services.

This result includes delivery of 326 community legal education sessions to community groups, workers and educators (down by 27%), reaching 11,215 participants (not including potential audience reach for the four sessions we delivered on radio). The reduction in session numbers is expected and consistent with fewer Settled and safe sessions being held this year, as well as greater use of statewide resources and programs resulting in fewer one-off sessions undertaken by our suburban and regional offices. The result does not include online sessions.

Performance against target – legal advice and minor assistance services

Our performance against our target for providing legal advice (by number of distinct advice sessions) and minor assistance (by number of work files) is:

2014–15 target 2014–15 outcome % variance
47,000 48,806 3.8

The variance can be attributed to an increase in legal advice provided by Victoria Legal Aid's Legal Help telephone service with the final result only marginally greater than the 2014–15 target. Increases in the provision of legal advice can be seen for sexual offences, child protection, social security and mental health and disability matters.

Legal advice and minor assistance over two years

Year Legal advice Minor assistance Total
2014–15 43,853 4,953 48,806
2013–14 40,090 6,088 46,178

Legal Help telephone service

We dealt with 114,391 calls (up by 21%) and 133,958 matters (up by 23%).

Call wait time and call duration over two years

Year Average call wait time Average call duration
2014–15 2 minutes, 59 seconds 6 minutes, 49 seconds
2013–14 3 minutes, 28 seconds 7 minutes, 38 seconds

We increased staffing for our Legal Help telephone service, reducing the call wait time in the process. Legal Help provides different levels of service depending on the nature of the enquiry, the complexity of the enquiry and the needs and personal circumstances of the caller. The average call duration figure includes very short calls and longer calls of up to 30 minutes. For example short calls (two to five minutes) may refer people to a more appropriate service or a specialist Victoria Legal Aid service, while longer calls (15 to 30 minutes) include Legal Help staff providing detailed information, advice, intake and warm referrals to staff lawyers.

Legal information provided over two years*

Year Civil Law Criminal Law Family, Youth and
Children's Law
2014–15 55,469 31,790 50,083
2013–14** 47,325 23,750 40,501

* This data excludes legal information provided via our website, publications and targeted community legal education sessions. Data for these delivery methods is provided under 'Website and publications'.

** Data for 2013–14 covers information provided by telephone and face-to-face, and includes information provided in our regional offices.

Triage of clients

There are different pathways a client can take, based on our assessment or ‘triage’ of their needs when they first contact us. We triage clients through our Legal Help service, and suburban and regional offices. Our suburban and regional offices dealt with 16,791 calls (up by 20%) and 19,754 matters (up by 26%).

Client triage pathway Legal Help number of matters Suburban and regional offices number of matters Number of matters (total)
Legal information* 67,375 7,680 75,055
Legal advice** 16,373 0*** 16,373
Referral only 50,213 12,074 62,287
Total 133,961 19,754 153,715

* This is a subset of information services counted in ‘Community legal education and information services’.

** This is a subset of advice services counted in ‘Legal advice and minor assistance services’. 

*** Our suburban and regional offices refer requests for advice to our Legal Help service (counted in ‘Referral to another Victoria Legal Aid service’) or make a follow-up advice appointment (counted in ‘Legal advice and minor services’).

Referrals* Legal help Suburban and regional offices Total
Referral to another Victoria Legal Aid service 41,165 11,969 53,134
Referral to an external service 69,226 5,629 74,855

* Some calls may result in more than one matter or referral, depending upon the client’s circumstances and needs.

Top five legal information matters

Matter Number
Spending time with children 9,037
Family violence intervention orders 8,958
Infringements 7,767
Property settlement 6,885
The law in general 4,542

Top five non-English languages

The top five non-English languages spoken by people contacting our legal information services by telephone or in person were:

  • Mandarin (1,774)
  • Vietnamese (1,467)
  • Arabic (815)
  • Cantonese (499)
  • Spanish (280)

Client access and referrals

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.

We referred 93,676 matters to appropriate external agencies (up by 11%).

The top five referrals were to:

  • private practitioners
  • generalist community legal centres
  • Law Institute of Victoria referral service
  • specialist community legal centres
  • courts.

We also referred clients to non-legal services, including family relationship centres, Consumer Affairs Victoria, drug and alcohol counselling, dispute resolution, financial counselling and social welfare services. For referrals from our website, see the next section.

Website and publications

We had 1,417,123 sessions on our website (up by 28%). A session is a group of interactions that take place on a website within a given time frame. A session can include multiple page views.

The top five online legal information matters were:

  • traffic offences
  • going to court for criminal charge
  • criminal offences
  • family violence intervention orders
  • separation, divorce and marriage annulment.

Our website also facilitated 173,406 online referrals. The top five online referrals to other agencies were to:

We distributed 252,205 publications (down by 37%). This reduction reflects new methods we adopted for delivering legal education material.