COVID-19: Service changes

Legal Aid WA is committed to continuing to provide legal information and assistance to the West Australian community during COVID-19. 

We continue to provide the same range of services, although some are currently being provided in a slightly different way.

The services that remain the same are our telephone Infoline and web Infochat services. Please note that due to increased demand there may be longer wait times than usual. 

It is also still possible to apply for a grant of aid to be represented by a lawyer.

The services that are being provided differently at present are:

  • in-person advice appointments
  • dispute resolution conferences, and
  • duty lawyer services.

The changes to these services are explained below.

Advice appointments 

It is still possible to make an appointment for legal advice and assistance, however, at present such appointments may be by phone or video rather than in-person. If you request an advice appointment, you will be asked a number of health-related questions to decide if it is safe for you, our staff and the community that you to attend in person, or whether a phone or video appointment is best.

The questions you will be asked include:

  1. Have you travelled and returned from overseas or interstate in the past 14 days?
  2. Have you been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
  3. Are you feeling unwell with symptoms such as a fever or an acute respiratory infection (for example – cough, sore throat, runny nose, or shortness of breath)?
  4. Are you in self-isolation (for example – you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting test results)?

If the answer to any of these questions is 'Yes', you may be offered a phone or video appointment instead of an in-person appointment.

Dispute Resolution Conferences

Dispute Resolution Conferences at Legal Aid WA are beginning to transition back to face-to-face conferences. During this time, your conference may still be scheduled to take place by telephone or video while we manage our social distancing requirements.

Duty lawyer services

Each duty lawyer service has its own process for providing assistance:

Criminal Law Duty Lawyer Service

The information below is only for the Perth and metropolitan Magistrates courts. If you live in a regional area, please contact your local Legal Aid WA office to find out how the duty lawyer service is being provided in your region.

The Criminal Duty Lawyer Service has resumed face-to-face services in the Magistrates Courts and Children's Courts in Perth and the metropolitan area

If you are referred to the Duty Lawyer Service, you should:

  • arrive at court early on the morning of your appearance
  • bring any court documents and paperwork you received from Police, including the Statement of Material Facts. You should also bring anything else you want the duty lawyer to see or read
  • tell the court orderly that you are at court, and
  • write your name and court number on the whiteboard and wait to be called by the duty lawyer.

Information about changes to criminal court processes in WA is available on the website of each court:

Family Violence Restraining Order Duty Lawyer Service

Our Domestic Violence Legal Unit has resumed our normal duty lawyer services in-person at the Perth and Joondalup Magistrates Courts.
 
Before you speak with a lawyer in-person, one of our staff will speak to you over the telephone and ask some health-related screening questions.  If you are well and it is safe to do so, you will then be able to speak face-to-face with our staff about your matters.
 
If you are unwell or impacted by COVID-19, Legal Aid WA can still assist you over the telephone.

Family Court Duty Lawyer and Family Advocacy Support Service

Legal Aid WA's Family Court Duty Lawyer and Family Advocacy Support Services continue to provide legal assistance and social support  during COVID-19.

If you are coming to the Family Court in person, we will ask you a number of health-related screening questions before speaking with you face-to-face at court. If you are unwell, Legal Aid WA staff will be able to help you over the telephone. This applies at Perth and when the Family Court is sitting on regional circuits. 

Family Court hearings and urgent matters

The Family Court of WA is encouraging people to appear by telephone if possible, even if they are feeling well. If you are appearing by telephone, you can call the Family Court on (08) 9224 8373.

If you have a family law matter, but are unwell or need to self-isolate, telephone the Family Court on (08) 9224 8373 and tell them what you need help with. The court will give you directions on how your matter will be handled, which may include referring you to our Duty Lawyer Service or FASS for a telephone appointment.

If you have a court hearing but are unwell or need to self-isolate, please call the Family Court's Call Centre on (08) 9224 8222 to ask for procedural advice. Tell the court you need to self-isolate and follow the court’s directions.

More information about the court's COVID-19 measures is available from the Family Court of WA website.

Children’s Court (Protection) Services Duty Lawyer Service

The Children’s Court (Protection) Services has resumed in-person duty lawyer services at the Perth Children’s Court.
 
If you are referred to the duty lawyer for a child protection matter you should:

  • arrive at court early on the morning of your appearance, and
  • check in with the paralegal at the Children’s Court (Protection) Services Duty Lawyer Service . The office is open from 8.30 am.

If you are unable to attend court in-person, please call the Children’s Court (Protection) Service on (08) 9218 0160.
 
More information about the court's COVID-19 measures can be found on the Children's Court website.

 

Reviewed: 25 June 2020.

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.