In Australia free legal advice is provided for a range of issues: from how to respond to a traffic fine, to what to do in a family crisis.
This week's Settlement Guide focus for new migrants to Australia is focused on how to access assistance for legal situations.
Who can help me with my legal problems?
There are eight legal aid commissions in Australia, one in each state and territory. The purpose of these commissions is to provide vulnerable, disadvantaged and newly arrived Australians with access to justice, but all people are entitled to free legal advice. They deliver legal assistance services in criminal, family and civil law matters.
What if I need to go to court?
If you need more than legal advice, you may be provided with a lawyer to help with your case. However court representation is means tested by Legal Aid and it’s not always free.
For example in NSW you can get a grant of legal aid and the amount you pay depends on your financial situation and what kind of legal problem you have.
Where else can I get legal assistance?
There are several free services available for you to access:
Community Legal Centres give free legal advice and provide help with problems not covered by Legal Aid.
Immigration Advice and Rights Centres provide advice on most areas of immigration law, including help with lodging applications and appeals.
Migrant Resource Centres provide information, assistance and settlement support to migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants. Here you can find some such centres in your state:
Also in Australia many public libraries have Legal Information Access Centres that provide free information about the law.
You can get free legal advice over the phone or face-to-face. If you need an interpreter you can call Translating and Interpreting Services TIS on 131 450.