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Help at court

Going to court can be a difficult experience, especially if it's your first time, but there are people, resources and services who can help.

The duty lawyer is a free lawyer who may be able to help on your court date by:

  • giving you free legal advice and information
  • helping to fill out court forms or documents
  • discussing your eligibility for legal aid
  • representing you in court (depending on your situation)—but not for a trial. 

Duty lawyers are available to help with:

For domestic and family violence matters, the Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service and the Application Assistance Program is available for women in the Brisbane Magistrates Court. There are also other services and support available for people experiencing domestic or family violence.

If you or your children are at risk of harm, call the police. In an emergency, call 000.

There are also other services available to help you before, during and after your court appearance (depending on your situation and legal matter). Find out more. Fees may apply for private services.

Getting help at court

If you have to go to court there are people and services available to help you while you're there.

The following services are free. If you need private legal advice fees may apply.

Criminal matters

The criminal law duty lawyer may be able to help on your court date if you've been charged with a criminal offence and are appearing in the Magistrates Court.

Read our information guide about being charged with a criminal offence.

Family law matters

The family law duty lawyer may be able to help on your court date for general family law matters in the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court. 

Find out more about going to the family law courts.

Domestic and family violence matters

If you're applying for or responding to a domestic violence protection order, or you have a domestic and family violence matter before the court, then the following services are available to help you:

Find out more about services and support available for people experiencing domestic and family violence.

If you or your children are at risk of harm, call the police. In an emergency, call 000.

Child protection matters

The Child protection duty lawyer may be able to help on your court date if you’re attending the Childrens Court for a child protection matter. 

Social security matters

A legal advice service in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is available to help people appealing against decisions made by Centrelink about their entitlements to social security benefits. The service gives advice to people about their chances of winning their appeal and evidence that might help their case.

If you disagree with a Centrelink decision you can:

  • ask for the reasons for the decision in writing
  • apply for an authorised review officer (ARO) to review your case (you should do this within 13 weeks after receiving the decision).

If you disagree  with the ARO’s decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal—Social Security and Child Support division (AAT).  

Legal advice is available at the AAT's first review stage. If the person challenging Centrelink's decision disagrees with the outcome of the first review, they can apply for a second review by the AAT. We can also give legal advice at this stage as well.

This legal service gives help and advice to people about:

  • disability support pensions
  • overpayment of benefits and pensions (debts)
  • compensation preclusion cases
  • social security benefits where there's a dispute about whether a person is in a 'member of a couple' relationship
  • matters involving vulnerable people
  • carer payments
  • family tax benefit
  • other complex cases.

If you receive a grant of legal aid for a second review hearing in the AAT, a lawyer may represent you before the tribunal.  

Other services

There are other services available to help before, during and after your court appearance (depending on your situation and your legal matter). These include:

Contact them directly to find out how they can help.

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