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.
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.
In addition to family, civil and criminal law services, Legal Aid NSW provide a range of specialist services to particular groups and areas of law.
The Disaster Response Legal Service provides state-wide legal services to people impacted by disasters such as bushfires and floods.
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.
Go to Service NSW to find government information and services, including relationships, business, employment, rebates and assistance, driving and transport, education, health, housing, and the police. You will also find assistance if you have been affected by bushfires or floods.
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.
Youth Legal Service
The Marrickville Legal Centre’s Youth Legal Service (YLS) offers free legal information, advice and assistance to young people 25 years and younger, across New South Wales. The Monday evening YLS clinic can assist young people with legal issues such as employment law, traffic and minor criminal charges, owing and being owed money, consumer law issues, car accidents, and problems at home. If you have a problem or question, you can submit a webform or call 02 9559 2899.
For people with a disability
Australian Centre for Disability Law
The Australian Centre for Disability Law provides free legal advice on disability discrimination to people in NSW. Contact the Centre on (02) 7229 0061 or 1800 800 708 between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and between 1.30pm and 4.30pm on Thursdays or send them a message.
Intellectual Disability Rights Service
The Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) is a free service for people with cognitive impairment across NSW. You do not need an NDIS package to access the service. The IDRS provides help with legal problems, support persons at police stations and courts, advocacy, support to appeal decisions of the National Disability Insurance Agency, rights education for people with cognitive impairment, and support and assistance for parents with intellectual disability at risk of losing care of their children.
The IDRS also runs the Justice Advocacy Service (JAS). JAS supports young people and adults with cognitive impairment in contact with the NSW criminal justice system, including as victims, witnesses and suspects/defendants to exercise their rights and fully participate in the process.
Your Story Disability Legal Support
If you want to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission, you can find free, independent legal support from Your Story Disability Legal Support. Call them on 1800 77 1800 (free call) Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm or contact them online.
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 Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline
The NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline 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.
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 8778 1200 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 their Legal Advice Line on 1800 844 949 Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm, or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
GambleAware 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).