General legal assistance
Community Legal Centres NSW
Community legal centres (CLCs) are independently operating, not-for-profit community organisations that provide legal and related services to the public, focussing on the disadvantaged and people with special needs. Community legal centres provide referral, advice and assistance.
Some CLCs provide assistance to people in their geographic area, while others provide state wide services on a particular area of law, eg tenancy, or credit and debt.
The Community Legal Centres NSW Recommendation Service app will ask you a few questions to direct you to community legal centres that are suitable for your situation.
Legal Aid NSW
Legal Aid NSW helps people with their legal problems. Their legal services include legal advice, help at court and family dispute resolution. Legal Aid can help in most areas of criminal law, family law, and civil law.
Watch their three videos:
- How can Legal Aid NSW help me?
- Can I get Legal Aid?
- How can the Legal Aid NSW Refugee Service help me?
Community Justice Centres
Community Justice Centres (CJC) provide free mediation to help people solve disagreements or resolve disputes without going to court. The CJC service is confidential, easy to use and voluntary. There are no waiting lists and services are provided throughout NSW.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The Aboriginal Legal Service is an Aboriginal community organisation giving information, referral, legal advice, and court representation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children across NSW and the ACT.
ALS works in criminal law, children's care and protection law, and family law, and provides information and referral for civil law. They also assist with Work and Development Orders, and their Custody Notification Service provides early legal advice for Aboriginal people taken into police custody.
If you need a lawyer, please contact the ALS on one of these toll free numbers:
- for police charges and court matters call 1800 765 767
- for care and protection and family matters call 1800 733 233.
Women’s Legal Service NSW (WLS NSW) is a community legal centre providing women with a range of free community legal services, including legal advice and information, education, training and resources across metropolitan and regional areas of New South Wales.
WLS NSW provides a free service for all women in the community, particularly for those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Women can obtain free legal advice over the phone by phoning the Women’s Legal Advice Line or one of their specialist telephone advice lines.
For children and young people
Children's Legal Service, Legal Aid NSW
The Children's Legal Service, Legal Aid NSW advises and represents children and young people under 18 involved in criminal cases and Apprehended Violence Order applications in the Children's Courts. They aim to ensure that children and young people have access to professional, face-to-face or telephone based legal advice at any stage of their legal proceedings.
Youth Law Australia
Youth Law Australia is a community legal service dedicated to helping children and young people in Australia and their supporters find a legal solution to their problems.
They provide free and confidential legal advice, assistance and referrals to young people and their advocates via their online service.
For older people
Council on the Ageing NSW
COTA NSW and Legal Aid NSW have formed the Legal Pathways partnership to provide assistance to older persons needing advice about a will, enduring power of attorney or enduring guardianship. People who receive an age pension or hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card are eligible to participate in the Legal Pathways project.
NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit
The NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit is a free, confidential service that provides information, support and referrals relating to the abuse of older people living in the community across NSW.
Individuals, concerned friends, family members, neighbours and support workers can call 1800 628 221 if they suspect elder abuse is occurring. Anyone can make the call.
Seniors Rights Service
The Seniors Rights Service is a community legal centre that protects the rights of older people. They provide telephone advice, advocacy, legal advice and educational services.
Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC)
The Immigration Advice and Rights Centre provides free information, legal advice and representation to people in NSW in relation to family and humanitarian migration, citizenship and visa cancellations, with a particular focus on assisting people on temporary visas who have experienced family violence.
Migrant Employment Legal Service (MELS)
The Migrant Employment Legal Service seeks to address the exploitation of migrant workers by providing free legal advice, legal representation and engaging with communities to provide information and education. Contact the service on 02 8002 1203 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
About your money
Financial Abuse Legal Service
Redfern Legal Centre's Financial Abuse Legal Service provides free, confidential legal information and advice to people across NSW who have money problems due to domestic abuse in an intimate partner relationship.
Financial Rights Legal Centre
The Financial Rights Legal Centre is a community legal centre specialising in financial services, particularly in relation to consumer credit, banking and debt recovery. You can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Gambling Help has information and resources about problem gambling, including videos, fact sheets, and sources of free face-to-face and online counselling services.
Find information on their website, or call them any time (24 hours a day) on 1800 858 858.
Welfare Rights Centre
The Welfare Rights Centre is a community legal centre specialising in social security law.
They can advise people about their social security rights, entitlements and obligations and assist people through the social security review and appeals system, including Centrelink internal review, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
About consumer law
About the environment
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) NSW provides free initial legal advice on planning and environmental law matters. In very limited circumstances they may be able to provide more detailed advice and/or representation.
Contact the Advice Line on 9262 6989 (if you're in Sydney) or 1800 626 239.
You can contact an ombudsman if you wish to make a complaint or resolve a problem with a government agency. There are a number of ombudsman services available.
- The NSW Ombudsman is responsible for the independent oversight and scrutiny of government agencies and some non-government organisations that provide services to the people of NSW.
- The Commonwealth Ombudsman deals with complaints about Commonwealth Government departments and agencies.
- The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) provides a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for all electricity and gas customers in NSW, and some water customers.
- The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is the dispute resolution scheme for financial services. They consider complaints about credit, finance and loans; insurance; banking deposits and payments; investments and financial advice; and superannuation.
- The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides an independent dispute resolution service for customers who have a complaint about their telephone or internet service in Australia.
Using a lawyer
Law Society of NSW Find a Lawyer services
The Law Society of NSW provides information and referral services that help members of the public to identify qualified solicitors who offer legal services appropriate to their needs.
Services provided by the Law Society include the Find a Lawyer search, the Solicitor Referral Service, and their Pro Bono Scheme.
Office of the Legal Services Commissioner
The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) is an independent statutory body that deals with complaints about lawyers.
In addition to receiving complaints, the Legal Services Commissioner oversees the investigation of complaints, plays a major role in resolving consumer matters, and may take disciplinary action against a solicitor or barrister, or commence disciplinary proceedings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).