Legal Aid NSW, which has people from Dubbo among its clients, has recorded a 25 per cent increase in the number of family law duty services, to cater for unmet legal needs of families experiencing domestic violence.
The trend is detailed in the organisation’s annual report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
As Legal Aid NSW reported its highlights - including expanded services in western NSW - it also foreshadowed improvements to its family law service in regional NSW.
In the 2017-2018 financial year, Legal Aid NSW provided 12,636 family law duty services across the state, the highest number in its history.
Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas said the organisation had developed its first five-year plan to address the growing demand for services.
“We are very proud of our achievements in the past year, and in particular for our rapidly expanding program to help victims of domestic and family violence,” he said.
“The increase in services does not reflect an increase in domestic violence.
“It does however demonstrate a need for domestic violence legal and support services and a gap in services that is now being met in these locations.
“Next year, we will improve our family law service in regional NSW and develop a new strategy to address domestic violence.”
Everywhere I look, I see a passion and a commitment that I find both humbling and deeply impressive.Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas
The report also listed expansion of in-house criminal law services to seven locations across the Orana region as a highlight. Two additional lawyers based at the Dubbo office were recruited as part of the move.
The move allows a greater presence in the region including Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble, Nyngan, Lightning Ridge, and Walgett at the Children’s Courts and Local Courts, and Bourke and Coonamble District Courts.