CHOICE membership

Free Legal Advice Centres

Created this topic so that we are able to list free legal aid centres to point consumers to if there is a need. I encourage those who know of any to add them and if a centre specializes in a law area to note that.

Each State/Territory will be given a separate entry in this Topic.

As most are State/Territory based please ensure to keep the listing in the State/Territory they are located in, also try to include Town or City they are in. It is being created as a Wiki so just add your entry to the relevant State post. You do not need to respond as a new post as this will probably create clutter.

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NEW SOUTH WALES (NSW) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Financial Rights Legal Centre

PO Box 538, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Web address: https://financialrights.org.au/
Specializes in Insurance and other Consumer law issues.

NSW Community Legal Centres

To seek legal advice via phone: Law Access on 1300 888 529
Web address: https://www.clcnsw.org.au/index.php/
To use their online portal to find legal help (for NSW only): https://applications-au.neotalogic.com/a/clcnsw-recommendation-service

Women’s Legal Service NSW

Telephone for Women’s legal advice: (02) 8745 6988 Freecall 1800 801 501
Other contact details: http://www.wlsnsw.org.au/contact-us/

Community Northern Beaches

12 Wentworth St, Manly
02 9977 1066


Two services:

  • Manly Legal Advice Service - basic legal advice on a face-to-face basis only.
  • Family Law Early Intervention - advice, mediation & referrals to other services.
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VICTORIAN (VIC) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Consumer Action Law Centre

Telephone Contact: (03) 9629 6300 or 1800 466 477 (Monday – Friday: 10am-1pm)
Web address: https://consumeraction.org.au/
Specializes in Consumer & Worker law matters

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NORTHERN TERRITORY (NT) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Darwin Community Legal Service

Darwin
Every Tuesday & Thursday
5.30pm – 7.30pm
Level 2, 75 Woods St
Note: Tuesday by appointment only

Palmerston
4th Monday of each month
6.00pm – 8.00pm
Palmerston Library

Casuarina
2nd Saturday of each month
10.00am – 11.45am
Casuarina Library

Coolalinga
Fortnightly on Friday
9:00am – 11:00am
Kezia Purick’s Electorate Office, Coolalinga
Telephone Contact: 08 8982 1111 Freecall: 1800 812 953

Website Address: https://www.dcls.org.au/

Central Australian Women’s Legal Service (CAWLS)

Westpoint Building, 1 Stott Terrace, Alice Springs
Office Hours :
Monday – Friday
8.30am – 5.00pm

Telephone Contact: (08) 8952 4055 Free call: 1800 684 055
Email: enquiries@cawls.org.au
Website Address: https://cawls.org.au/
They provide free legal advice for all women in Central Australia & the Barkly region of the NT.

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AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY (ACT) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Consumer Law Centre ACT

Telephone Contact: 02 6257 1788
Website Address: http://www.carefcs.org/consumer-law-centre-act.html

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA (SA) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Consumer Credit Law Centre (SA)

Telephone Contact: 08 8342 1800 or 1300 886 220
Website Address: http://www.cclswa.org.au

Courtesy of @SarahAgar

The Young Workers Legal Service (SA)

Telephone contact: (08) 8279 2233
Website address: www.ywls.org.au
Physical drop-ins: Ground Floor, 170 Greenhill Road, Parkside SA

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA (WA) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Consumer Credit Legal Service (WA)

Telephone Contact: 08 9221 7066
Website Address: http://www.cclswa.org.au

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QUEENSLAND (QLD) LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Community Legal Centres QLD

This covers 34 Community Legal Aid Centres. The home page allows you to narrow your search based on problem and where you live.

Women’s Legal Service Queensland

Website address: https://wlsq.org.au/
Contact details: https://wlsq.org.au/contact/

Courtesy of @Pelican:
Queensland
(My region, and I work with older people hence the focused information)

The link below connects to a pdf about legal advice from QCAT (Qld Civil and Administration Tribunal)

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)

Website address: http://www.opan.com.au/

Free services to support older people and their representatives to address issues related to Commonwealth funded aged care services.

Australia Advocacy Services (AAS)

Website address: https://adaaustralia.com.au/

Provides free information and individual advocacy support for:
Adults who have issues related to Commonwealth funded aged care services or Queensland Community Care Services in Queensland.
Adults who have a current QCAT hearing scheduled, or about to be scheduled.
People living with disability and experiencing instances of abuse, neglect or discrimination.

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TASMANIA (TAS) FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES

Community Legal Centres Tasmania

This is a site to allow you to search for a Free legal service in Tasmania. The website has the details of many free legal aid services in that State.
Website Address: https://www.lawaccesstas.org.au/ or
https://www.lawaccesstas.org.au/contact-us/

Hobart Community Legal Service

Website address: https://www.hobartlegal.org.au/
Hobart Office
9-5 Mon to Thurs / 9-1 Fri
166 Macquarie Street, Hobart TAS 7000
Ph: 03 6223 2500
Fax: 03 6223 2510

Bridgewater Office
9:30-12:30 Tues to Fri
Covehill Shopping Centre, Bridgewater, 7030
Ph: 0450 128 098 (Temporary)

Sorell Outreach
9:30-1 Fri by appointment only
CWA Room
Sorell Memorial Hall
Ph: 03 6265 1911

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania

Website address: https://womenslegaltas.org.au
Contact details: https://womenslegaltas.org.au/contact/

Launceston Community Legal Centre Inc

Website address: https://www.lclc.net.au/
Contact details (includes a online contact form): https://www.lclc.net.au/contact.html

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NATIONAL

National Debt Helpline

Telephone Contact: 1800 007 007
Website Address: http://www.ndh.org.au/

Insurance Law Service

Telephone Contact: 1300 663 464
Website Address: http://insurancelaw.org.au

National Association of Community Legal Centres

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) is the peak national body for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in Australia.
Website Address: http://www.naclc.org.au/

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Queensland
(My region, and I work with older people hence the focused information)

The link below connects to a pdf about legal advice from QCAT (Qld Civil and Administration Tribunal)

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)
http://www.opan.com.au/
Free services to support older people and their representatives to address issues related to Commonwealth funded aged care services.

Australia Advocacy Services (AAS)
https://adaaustralia.com.au/
Provides free information and individual advocacy support for:
Adults who have issues related to Commonwealth funded aged care services or Queensland Community Care Services in Queensland.
Adults who have a current QCAT hearing scheduled, or about to be scheduled.
People living with disability and experiencing instances of abuse, neglect or discrimination.

EDIT by @grahroll
To keep each State’s information together this post has been copied into the Qld section above with attribution to the author. It is left here to allow the poster to receive recognition.

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The Young Workers Legal Service (SA)

Telephone contact: (08) 8279 2233
Website address: www.ywls.org.au
Physical drop-ins: Ground Floor, 170 Greenhill Road, Parkside SA

EDIT by @grahroll
To keep each State’s information together this post has been copied into the SA section above with attribution to the author. It is left here to allow the poster to receive recognition.

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An update from the Consumer Action Law Centre.

Dear XXXX,

The team at Consumer Action Law Centre are continuing to support people experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage through COVID-19.

  • Our free Consumer Legal Advice Service continues to operate, including through our new online chatbot which can receive consumer enquiries at any hour. Our lawyers can be contacted by phone between 10am – 1pm each day.
  • Our dedicated Koori Help legal advice line can be contacted by calling 1800 574 457.
  • Our Community Worker Advice Service assists financial counsellors, community legal centres and other community professionals. It is available by calling 03 9602 3326 Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm.
  • Our financial counsellors continue to answer calls as part of the National Debt Helpline, which can be contacted on 1800 007 007.

Like others, many of our team have transitioned to work from home to contribute to safety of our staff and community. As Consumer Action primarily offers telephone and online services, we are fortunately able to continue offering our services.

We know that financial stress and consumer problems are highly likely to increase over the coming months. In the last week, people have contacted us about financial stress caused by COVID-19. Some have lost hours at work; others have lost the ability to generate small business income; and others still have called us from self-isolation. Issues include mortgage stress, struggles with rent, and car repossession.

Consumer Action has therefore joined with more than 40 community organisations to call on banks, telcos, utilities and other essential providers to urgently offer additional support to people struggling with bills and repayments.

We’ve called on industry to implement the following:

  1. No disconnections from energy or telecommunication services for those that cannot pay – keeping people connected during a crisis is essential.
  2. A freeze on rent and loan repayments, and debt collection activity, for people in financial hardship.
  3. Waivers on all penalty and late fees – no-one should pay extra if they’re struggling to pay bills on time.

If you work for a community organisation who might be interested in signing on to the statement calling for these relief measures, please feel free to email: campaigns@consumeraction.og.au

Many businesses are stepping up to support their customers in financial difficulty. We applaud those that are taking swift action. We’ve also seen some businesses be proactive with offering refunds or credit for those with travel or event cancellations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have published some helpful information for consumers about their rights when it comes to cancellations. We encourage people to review this information before seeking additional assistance.

We wish all of our community, industry and other colleagues well at this time.

Gerard Brody
CEO, Consumer Action Law Centre

The latest communication from the Consumer Action Law Centre.

XXXX,

The past few months have been hard – for all of us. For many, things have been made even more difficult with the loss of work.

At Consumer Action, we continue to hear from people anxious about how they’re going to cover their bills in the months ahead. It’s important their experiences are heard by those who need to listen to them most.

Today, we’re launching an online form so people can share their experience of financial hardship due to the Covid-19 emergency. We want to know how severe and widespread the impact has been, so we can ensure government and industry knows too.

Can you help by sharing this form with people who might be experiencing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 emergency?

While restrictions are slowly easing around the country, our fear is that the worst is yet to come for people experiencing financial stress. As governments and industry start winding back relief measures, we can expect a sharp rise in demand for financial counsellors and legal assistance.

Already, some parliamentarians are calling for the JobKeeper program to end sooner than anticipated.1And despite the overwhelming evidence showing people struggled to get by on Newstart, the Government still intends to drop JobSeeker support payments back to their previous rate.2

We need to demonstrate just how vital Government support and hardship relief measures are for people impacted by this crisis. Can you please share the form with anyone who might be financially affected by the Covid-19 emergency?

Responses to the form will provide an insight into the issues people are experiencing, help us to gauge the effectiveness of government and industry responses to financial hardship, and inform other measures that might be needed to keep people connected to essential services.

Please feel free to reply to me by email if you have any questions.

Alycia Gawthorne
Campaigns & Advocacy Adviser, Consumer Action Law Centre

References

[1] JobKeeper: Liberal MPs want scheme to end when kids return to school, News[dot]com.au, 12 May 2020
[2] Liberal MPs push for ways out of JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 2020

Copyright © 2020 Consumer Action Law Centre, All rights reserved.

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The latest communication from the Consumer Action Law Centre.


Welcome to our eNewsletter for June which is a very brief snapshot of what we have been doing in the last couple of months.

Consumer Action recognises National Reconciliation Week. The 2021 theme is “More than a Word. Reconciliation takes Action”, urging the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action. To mark the week, our team listened to a speech from Thomas Mayor at the recent Financial Counselling Australia conference who spoke about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and calls for First Nations voices to be recognised in the Constitution and the need for structural reform for socio-economic improvement. Consumer Action supports calls for change from First Nations peoples to address systemic racial injustice and discrimination.

On the campaigning front, our Save Safe Lending campaign had a major success in late March when, as a result of fierce and unrelenting cross-sector advocacy, the Bill to gut responsible lending protections was stalled in the Senate. Since then, there have been some very encouraging signals from key crossbenchers and now it looks increasingly likely the Government will not get the numbers it needs to pass the Bill. But we can’t become complacent.

As the Hayne Royal Commission said in its first recommendation responsible lending protections need to be better enforced, not eroded. With our many partners, we will keep fighting this wrong-headed Bill until the threat to responsible lending laws disappears. You can sign up to campaign updates at www.debtdisaster.com.au.

Other major news: the bad behaviour of telcos was made glaringly obvious in May with the Federal Courts upholding of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s $50 million fine on Telstra for unconscionable mis-selling in remote Indigenous communities. Soon after, a report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman confirmed the systemic issues we see in calls to our financial counsellors and lawyers. We are continuing to advocate for stronger consumer protections and improvements to telco industry practices.

In late May, I was delighted to hear the Victorian Government introduced legislation taking energy retailers to task by banning of high-pressure sales tactics like unsolicited door-to-door sales and cold-calling. We have been campaigning to make this happen for years. The Victorian Government also announced plans to ban door-to-door sales of solar panels from September 2021, which is a significant win for consumers.

Finally, Consumer Action welcomed the news that Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP has made new regulations requiring ‘debt vultures’ to be properly licenced if they are going to provide services such as debt negotiation and credit repair. For far too long, debt vultures have had free rein to do their worst. These licensing reforms are a great first step to finally close the regulatory loophole these firms exploit.

We are continuing to provide services to the Victorian community throughout the current lockdown, and our operating hours will remain the same. Our thoughts are with all of our fellow Victorians during this time.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

–Gerard Brody, CEO

Our operating hours

Read our latest submissions

27 May 2021: Access, pricing and incentive arrangements for Distributed Energy Resources
25 May 2021: Victorian Default Offer 2021 variation
21 May 2021 : Consultation on Draft Regulator Performance Guide
18 May 2021 : Framework for reform - modernising Victoria’s building system
14 May 2021: Interacting Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill 2020
5 May 2021: The 2021 Water Price Review - Melbourne Water Draft Decision
3 May 2021: Retirement Villages Act Review - Options Paper submission
23 April 2021: Implementing the Royal Commission recommendations: The deferred sales model for add-on insurance
14 April 2021: Review of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority
31 March 2021: Consumer remediation: Update to ASIC Regulatory Guide 256
18 March 2021: Our concerns about proposed changes to the governance standards for registered charities
10 March 2021: Australian Communications Media Authority compliance priorities
5 March 2021: Social Services Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Income Support) Bill 2021

Latest News…

REPORT: The New Energy Tech Code

Some solar panel retailers offering buy-now-pay-later finance engaged in predatory unsolicited sales practices, signed people up to unaffordable finance arrangements and inflated the cost of solar panels. Here is our latest report on the issue.
Read more…

Thousands of energy disconnections a deep concern

Over 2000 Victorian households (2046 electricity and 110 gas customers) were disconnected from their energy supply in April alone. Consumer Action is calling for improved financial hardship practices and lower energy prices for consumers.
Read more…

Aggressive retail energy & solar sales banned in Victoria

The Victorian Government has moved to ban high pressure sales tactics in energy. “These new laws should mean fewer Victorians will experience wrongful disconnections or intrusive door-knocking or cold-calling,” said CEO Gerard Brody.
Read more…

Sector Updates

Financial counsellors get the message out

Our financial counsellors (FCs) are skilled at talking to the media, whether online, in print, on radio or TV, about the impact of their work on clients. Since March they have been featured on ABC, SBS, and many more. Watch FC Shungu talk about mortgage stress and listen to FC Kirsty on controlling spiralling debt in multiple languages.

Contact the National Debt Helpline

Tougher debt vulture licensing a good first step

Under changes made on Friday 30 April 2021, all firms spruiking debt management or credit repair services will need to apply for an Australian Credit Licence by 1 July 2021. This means firms will need to act ‘efficiently, honestly and fairly,’ meet ‘fit and proper person’ requirements, and offer customers free dispute resolution through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

Read more…

Report launch: Consumer issues in Victoria’s Aboriginal Communities during 2020

Join us for the launch of our latest report, which shows how our integrated project with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service grappled with the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, our approach to community engagement and the key consumer, credit and debt issues raised by Victorian Aboriginal community members during 2020.

Register for the Webinar

All our latest media releases

Includes media releases on the Save Safe Lending campaign and pushes to regulate BNPL, clip debt vulture wings and limit exemptions to add-on junk insurance.

Read more…

PODCAST: How do we evaluate the impact of our work?

We hear a lot about the importance of measuring the impact of advocacy and case work but what is it and how can analysis and measurement make a positive difference?
A brief chat with Katia Sanderson, our Manager of Impact, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Listen to the podcast

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