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Head Note October 2013

Family and civil law fee increase for preferred suppliers

On 1 July 2013, Legal Aid Queensland increased the fees paid to preferred supplier law firms in Commonwealth funded family and civil law matters by five percent. The fees payable to psychologists and social workers to prepare family and social assessment reports and appear as expert witness at court also increased by five percent.

The five percent fee increase equates to almost $1 million of additional expenditure by Legal Aid Queensland on private sector law firms undertaking legal aid work. We will continue to monitor fee rates for private lawyers who do legal aid work and identify opportunities to increase fees where appropriate.


CLE Collaboration Fund a finalist in Premier’s Award 

LAQ’s Community Legal Education (CLE) Collaboration Fund was recently announced as a finalist for a prestigious Premier’s Award for Excellence in Public Service Delivery in the category of “Building a stronger rural and regional Queensland”. Unfortunately we missed out on the award this year, but we are proud that our staff were recognised for their hard work in delivering community improvements and public sector efficiency around the state.

Our CLE program aims to inform and educate the community about the law, with a focus on people’s legal rights and responsibilities and how to access legal help. The collaboration fund was created so we could increase the geographic reach, scale and scope of community legal education offered in Queensland by providing eligible organisations with grants of up to $10,000 to deliver a CLE project. The fund resources community legal centres and Regional Legal Assistance Forums to deliver collaborative CLE projects which respond directly to their local community needs.

Round 1 of the collaboration fund saw nine successful applicants rolling out programs in their community areas. These CLE sessions and resources reached up to 1500 people located primarily in regional and remote Queensland, with target audiences including refugees and new arrivals to Australia, youth in disadvantaged areas, Indigenous communities, community workers and carers, and members of the general public.

We would like to thank the Attorney-General for writing a letter of support for our nomination. We are proud to be working together with organisations around the state to keep the community informed about their rights.


New civil law services for Legal Aid Qld 

LAQ will be expanding our civil law services across the state, with several initiatives including:

  • increased grants of aid to assist children in family law and child protection matters
  • new grants of aid for employment law matters
  • an expanded network of civil lawyers in Brisbane and regional Queensland.

The new initiatives are a result of additional Commonwealth Government funding provided to LAQ of $3M for each of the next two years.

This extra funding provides a great opportunity for us to expand Commonwealth funded services to disadvantaged Queenslanders in a financially sustainable way.


 Legal Aid Queensland works with Refugee and Immigration Legal Service 

Legal Aid Queensland is working with the Brisbane-based Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) to provide a legal advice clinic for their clients who have problems relating to:

  • consumer law (banking, housing, mobile phones)
  • domestic violence
  • child protection.

This partnership will see Legal Aid Queensland and RAILS lawyers working together to provide advice and assistance to clients with these areas of legal need.

From 4 October, the weekly Legal Aid Queensland advice clinic will be conducted every Friday at the RAILS office at 170 Boundary Street, West End. Legal advice is by appointment only and lawyers from both organisations will be available. Where appropriate, clients eligible for legal aid will also be referred back to Legal Aid Queensland.


Emerging barrister pilot takes off 

Legal Aid Queensland, together with the Bar Association of Queensland, has introduced a scheme to increase opportunities for junior counsel to appear in the magistrates court.

The Emerging Barrister Pilot began in August, with 10 junior counsels selected to participate after submitting written expressions of interest. The successful applicants have been appearing during the last month as advocates in s 222 appeals, magistrates court hearings and more complex sentences as instructed by Legal Aid Queensland lawyers.

We are looking forward to our continuing work with the Bar Association of Queensland on this initiative.


Legal Aid Queensland staff achievements 

Congratulations to Legal Aid Queensland’s Criminal Law Services director, Peter Delibaltas, who was a finalist in the Not for profit Manager of the Year category at this year’s Australian Institute of Management’s Excellence Awards in Brisbane.

The awards highlight the achievements of some of Australia’s most inspiring managers and leaders, with the not for profit category recognising managers who make important contributions to society and the economy, while managing stakeholders with finesse.

We are proud to have many outstanding lawyers working for us, many whom are invited to speak at events on their areas of legal expertise.

Several staff presented at the Queensland Law Society’s Annual Criminal Law Conference held on 16 August in Brisbane.

Speakers and topics included:

  • Joseph Briggs (counsel) speaking on dealing with the loss of the Special Circumstances Court, Drug Court and Murri Courts in Queensland
  • Peter Delibaltas (Criminal Law Services director) and Nadia Bromley (principal lawyer) who delivered a session on how Legal Aid Queensland (as the largest criminal defence practice in the state) manages common risks in criminal law legal practice
  • Kate McMahon (lawyer) conducted a session on the s 222 appeals in the district court
  • Kerry Bichel (assistant director) presented a session on the legislative changes and case law developments in criminal law over the last 12 months.

Farewell to Legal Aid Queensland’s Library manager 

Legal Aid Queensland recently farewelled a long standing and well respected employee when David Bratchford left his role as Library Services manager to take up a new appointment as the Supreme Court Librarian.

David has been a big part of the Legal Aid Queensland family for 24 years and was instrumental in developing a state-of-the-art law library encompassing traditional library services, electronic collections and sophisticated knowledge management applications.

David was involved with setting up the first intranet at Legal Aid Queensland and more recently designed our highly regarded Comparable Sentences Databases as well as many more specialist legal databases. His final legacy was the roll out of iPads containing key legal publications and productivity apps to our lawyers across the state.

Congratulations go to David on his new role.


 Updated Publications

Since our last edition of Head Note in April 2013, we have produced or updated the following publications:

Legal information guides

  • You and family law: a short guide
  • Consent orders, parenting orders and parenting plans

Factsheets

  • Our legal system ... Information for women
  • Our legal system … Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • Can I get legal aid?
  • Need legal help?
  • Need legal help? (Indigenous Queenslanders)
  • How do I get a domestic violence order?

Pocket packs

  • What are my rights if I want to separate from my partner? (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women)

Reports

  • Legal Aid Queensland Annual Report 2012–13

Forms

  • Legal Aid Queensland application form

These publications can be viewed online and ordered for free from www.legalaid.qld.gov.au

Publications temporarily unavailable

The following legal information guides have been temporarily removed from distribution while the content and forms are updated:

  • Do I have to keep the car? Used car contracts and your legal rights
  • Are you struggling to pay a loan?

 

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