Vulnerable people in financial hardship are one of Legal Aid NSW’s priority client groups. Legal Aid NSW has many initiatives including the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities, the Work & Development Order Service and the Mortgage Hardship Service. They also provide assistance for people in the event of natural disasters like bushfires and floods.
A recent initiative is the formation of the Financial Hardship Working Group (the FHWG).
The FHWG is collaboration between the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW and the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery (CLSD) Program at Legal Aid NSW.
The FHWG grew out of the recognition that some vulnerable groups face structural and practical barriers in accessing support services, including external dispute resolution. These groups include people in regional and remote NSW and clients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
Membership of the FHWG is drawn from Legal Aid NSW, community legal centres, financial counsellors, LawAccess NSW and Ombudsman schemes. FOS Australia is an active participant in the FHWG.
The FHWG is working towards finding practical solutions to some of the issues facing vulnerable and disadvantaged people in NSW, with a focus on CALD, remote and Aboriginal communities, including:
- easier access and sign-up to the Do Not Call Register; and
- expanding the reach of external dispute resolution schemes through inter-agency collaboration.
The CLSD Program is a regionally based program run by Legal Aid NSW comprising 11 partnerships of legal and related non-legal services in regional and remote NSW. CLSD Program partnerships meet quarterly and collaborate on initiatives to address unmet and emerging legal needs of their constituent vulnerable client groups. CLSD Program participants generally include representatives from Legal Aid NSW, Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service, local courts, financial counsellors and tenancy, youth, domestic violence, disability and migrant services.
For more information about the FHWG, contact Jane Kenny, Grants and Legal Information Manager, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW on (02) 8227 3210 or Jenny Lovric at the CLSD Program, Legal Aid NSW, on (02) 9219 5102.
You can find more information on the CLSD Program at www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/clsd