Referral options at Justice Connect

30 January 2018
This page explains the different ways you can refer an individual in need of legal help to Justice Connect's legal services

Looking for legal help for a community organisation? Visit Justice Connect's Not-for-profit Law Service

If you are a community legal centre seeking assistance to find barristers, merits assessments or other legal support for a matter you want to stay involved in, please fill out our CLC request form. If you are a community legal centre with an individual that you would like to refer to Justice Connect, our services are listed below. 

Justice Connect has specialist programs that help people with some kinds of legal problems, as well as generalist programs.

Our specialist services operate in select states or particular courts. Read the summaries below to get an idea of whether a service may be able to help the person that you are hoping to refer to Justice Connect.

Are you assisting someone who is:

currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Victoria?

If you are assisting someone experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Victoria, our Homeless Law service may be able to assist them by providing free legal advice and representation. Assistance is provided in the metro Melbourne area and Geelong.

If the person has an upcoming court or VCAT date, please contact us as soon as possible, as finding the right lawyer can take time. 

Homeless Law can only assist with the following types of legal issues:

  • housing and tenancy (in particular preventing evictions – please call us if the helpseeker has received a Notice to Vacate, has a VCAT hearing or is 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 please contact Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387 or find a local community legal service that may be able to assist.

How to make a referral

You can make a referral online or call 1800 606 313 between 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm.

Read more about Homeless Law's services and eligibility criteria

a self-represented litigant in a Federal Court in Victoria, NSW, Tasmania or the ACT?

Our Self Representation Service can provide free assistance to people with the following legal issues:

  • bankruptcy
  • Fair Work matters (employment law)
  • human rights/discrimination
  • 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 if:

  • 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
  • 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 conference.

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 representation in the court-room.

How to make a referral

Call 1800 727 550 between 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm. 

Read more about the service and how an individual may apply for assistance.

a Victorian homeowner seeking assistance in relation to a domestic building dispute with their builder?

Our Domestic Building Legal Service assists Victorian homeowners involved in disputes with builders.

The Domestic Building Legal Service is open to eligible homeowners who do not have access to legal help and advice through other sources.

Homeowners must meet our eligibility criteria to access one-on-one legal assistance. We also take into account special circumstances. 

To see whether we can help, visit the Domestic Building Legal Service page

If the person you are helping is not eligible for one-on-one assistance, they can still access our information resources.

How to make a referral
Call 1800 727 550 between 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm or email: DomesticBuilding@justiceconnect.org.au

a client seeking assistance to apply for stage 2 hormone treatment, anywhere in Australia?
Justice Connect is running a special Australia-wide program to help transgender children and their families access hormone treatment therapy. Accessing stage 2 treatment (the use of testosterone or oestrogen) can be a complicated and expensive process. If an individual needs legal assistance accessing this treatment, Justice Connect can put them in touch with lawyers who will help for free, wherever they are in Australia.
Visit the Stage 2 Access program page to find out more.

If none of the above specialist services applies, our Public Interest Law Service may be able to help

Justice Connect's Public Interest Law Service matches people experiencing disadvantage due to legal problems with lawyers in our pro bono network.  Due to high demand for free legal assistance, we prioritise matters that we consider to be in the public interest, or where a person is especially vulnerable.

Generally, the Public Interest Law Service operates on a referral basis, meaning it does not take requests for assistance by phone directly from the public—requests need to come via a professional (such as another lawyer, or a social worker).  

Public Interest eligibility summary

Our eligibility criteria includes the following:

  • Can the person afford a lawyer? We consider the expenses likely to be involved in the case, along with the individual's assets and income to help determine an answer to this question. If a person can afford a lawyer, generally the Public Interest Law Service will not assist.
  • Is the person eligible for Legal Aid? If they are, they are unlikely to be eligible for assistance through the Public Interest Law Service.
  • Is the legal issue in an area of law covered by lawyers in our pro bono network? We can rarely help with criminal law, family law, compensation claims or visa applications.
  • Does the person have a legal problem with a likelihood of success, that is, if the legal issue involves a claim against someone else, or defending a claim where there is a reasonable chance of success?
  • Is providing pro bono representation in the public interest?

What does "public interest" mean?

Public interest can refer to a legal issue involving an important point of law that is uncertain and requires clarification, or a case relating to an important right affecting a sector of the community.

On occasion, we also consider assisting people with serious legal issues that will significantly affect their lives, where they would otherwise not access legal assistance, in the public interest.

How to make a referral

Please make an online referral or call 1300 044 332.

Where else can I look for legal assistance?

Who provides free legal help in Australia?
In Australia, there are two main providers of free legal assistance to people with legal problems:
  • Legal Aid (government run free legal services)
  • community legal centres (independent, not-for-profit legal centres) - there are general community legal centres that provide assistance to people in their local area, and there are specialist community legal centres that provide their services to a particular group of people (eg. youth, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) or for a particular area of law (eg. consumer law).

Legal Aid only covers certain areas of law (these vary from state to state). Community legal centres are often focussed on areas of law not covered by Legal Aid, or types of people who may need specialist assistance. Generally, Legal Aid can provide some basic help to most people who call for the areas of law that Legal Aid covers (eg. some legal information over the phone). In some locations, Legal Aid offers a small amount of advice to all people before they apply eligibility criteria.

Some community legal centres offer drop-in clinics where people can get limited one-off legal help without needing to meet eligibility criteria. 

You can find out more about community legal centres and find your local community legal centre through the National Association of Community Legal Centres. If there is a specialist community legal centre that covers your type of legal problem, you should speak to that specialist community legal centre. 

What if the person I'm helping is not eligible for free legal help?
If the individual is not eligible for assistance from a Legal Aid or a community legal centre (or is not eligible for the level of assistance that they would like), they could consider paying for a lawyer. To find a lawyer that specialises in the area of law that the problem relates to, speak to the Law Society or Law Institute in your State or Territory. Some offer free 30-minute consultations with a lawyer.