Legal Services Commission
The Legal Services Commission is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments. The Commission was set up in 1979, when it took over the work of the Australian Legal Aid Office and the Law Society Assistance Scheme.
Under the Legal Services Commission Act 1977 (SA), the Commission, when deciding who should get legal aid, must have regard to the public interest and the interests of justice [s 10(2)]. The Commission aims to assist those in need to obtain justice by providing a service which makes the law equally accessible to all people in the South Australian community. To satisfy this objective the Commission provides advice, education and legal representation services.
Legal Services Commission Structure
The Legal Services Commission has a board of management made up of five Commissioners who determine policy and hear appeals from persons who have been refused legal aid.
The day-to-day operations of the Commission are carried out under the supervision of the Director. The organisation employs approximately 190 staff across seven offices in South Australia. The head office is at 159 Gawler Place, Adelaide, and there are metropolitan offices located at Elizabeth, Port Adelaide and Noarlunga, and regional offices at Whyalla, Port Augusta and Mount Barker.
Legal assistance is provided through two programs - the Representation Program and the Access Services Program. These two service delivery programs are supported by a Support Services Program.
- The Representation Program includes the inhouse criminal law and family law representation and the grants function.
- The Access Services Program includes advice, minor assistance, community legal education and library services.
- The Support Services Program includes finance, information systems, administration and secretarial functions.
The Commissioners are:
- the Chairperson, who must be a person holding judicial office or a legal practitioner of not less than five years standing - appointed by the Governor on nomination from the Attorney-General
- three people at least one of which must have experience in financial management and at least one must be, in the opinion of the Attorney General (in consultation with the Law Society and Bar Association), be an appropriate person to represent the interests of assisted persons.
- the Director of the Commission.