This page summarises the different ways that Justice Connect can provide legal help to people.
If you are looking for legal help for a community organisation, go to Justice Connect's Not-for-profit Law Service.
Step 1: Is there a specialist service that can help you with your problem?
Justice Connect has different specialist programs that help people with some kinds of legal problems. Some of these services operate in only some states in Australia, or in particular courts. It's important to read through the brief summaries below to get an idea of whether a service may be able to help you with your legal problem in your location.
Who is eligible for help?
If you are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness in Victoria, the Homeless Law service may be able to assist you by providing free legal advice and representation. Assistance is provided in the metro Melbourne area and Geelong.
If you have an upcoming court or VCAT date it's very important to call us as soon as possible. It takes us time to find a lawyer for you, so please try to give us as much notice as possible.
Types of legal issues that Homeless Law can help with
Homeless Law can assist with:
- Housing and tenancy (in particular preventing evictions – please call us if you have received a Notice to Vacate, have a VCAT hearing or are otherwise facing eviction into homelessness)
- Fines and infringements connected to homelessness
- Guardianship and administration orders (for example where a court makes orders for someone to look after your financial affairs or assets)
- Credit and debt problems
- Some criminal law matters
Homeless Law cannot assist with family law matters, however we can assist victims of family violence who are having problems with their tenancies. For family law problems try contacting the Victoria Legal Aid advice line on 1300 792 387 or your local community legal service who may be able to assist (find your local CLC here).
Homeless Law has lots of information about the services that it provides and eligibility criteria. Read more about Homeless Law and how to get help here.
Who is the Self Representation Service for?
We provide free assistance to individuals who are involved in, or are considering commencing proceedings relating to:
- Fair Work matters (employment law)
- human rights/discrimination, and
- judicial review proceedings.
We assist with matters in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Civil Registries in Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. People are eligible for an appointment with our lawyers where:
- they have a legal issue in one of the four areas above and we have a lawyer available with relevant expertise
- they are not represented
- they are unable to afford private legal assistance, and
- they are ineligible for legal aid.
How it works
People eligible for assistance will receive a one-hour appointment at court in Melbourne or Sydney or by phone or video conferencing with one of a team of volunteer lawyers provided by Justice Connect supporting firms.
The appointment may include:
- legal advice about the issue
- assistance preparing documents, including correspondence (eg letters) and court forms
- advice about other options to resolve the issue
- information about court orders and procedures.
Depending on the nature of the matter and the circumstances, eligible people may be offered more than one appointment to support them throughout their case. The Service provides task-orientated assistance in preparation for court; it does not provide ongoing legal representation or representation in the court-room.
Step 2: If no specialist service applies, can Justice Connect's Referral Service help?
Justice Connect's Referral Service takes general requests for legal assistance for people experiencing disadvantage or service providers assisting them and matches those requests with lawyers who are willing to help for free.
We apply eligibility criteria taking into consideration the nature of the legal issue, the individual’s personal circumstances, and whether free legal assistance is the appropriate assistance. In this way, we can match people with both solicitors and barristers for free depending on the circumstances.
Our eligibility criteria includes:
- can you afford a lawyer? We consider the expenses likely to be involved in the case and your assets and income to help determine an answer to this question. If you can afford a lawyer, you are not eligible for pro bono legal assistance
- are you eligible for Legal Aid?
- is providing pro bono representation in the public interest?
Generally, Justice Connect cannot assist where a person can afford to pay for a lawyer or is eligible for Legal Aid.
What does "public interest" mean?
'Public interest' can mean that your legal issue involves an important point of law that is uncertain and requires clarification, or your case could determine an important right affecting a significant sector of the community.
Find out more about the referral service here.