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 our in-person advice appointments and duty lawyer services. The changes to these services are detailed 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. Do you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are currently in quarantine?

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.

Duty lawyer services

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

Criminal Law Duty Lawyer Service

This process applies to Perth city and metropolitan Magistrates courts only. In regional areas you should contact your local Legal Aid office to find out how the duty lawyer service is being provided in your area.

For Perth and metropolitan courts, Legal Aid WA Duty Lawyers are currently offering legal advice and representation in criminal law matters by telephone only. The court you attend will have posters and flyers with information about how you can contact a Duty Lawyer. This is a two-step process.

Firstly, you will need to contact a Legal Aid WA staff member via email, text or telephone. The phone number or email address is available at the court you attend. You will need to provide the following details:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Mobile telephone number
  • Court location and courtroom number (for example, Perth Magistrates Court – Room 41)

It will be helpful for the Duty Lawyer if they can see a copy of your court documents such as your statement of material facts before speaking to you. If you can, please take a picture and send it via text or email when the Legal Aid WA staff member asks you to.

The information received from you will be passed onto a Duty Lawyer.

Secondly, the Duty Lawyer will telephone you to speak about your court matters. Please make sure you have your mobile phone charged and that you answer your phone. The lawyer will call you from a private telephone number and will only try to telephone you 3 times.

The Duty Lawyer will speak with you and give you advice on your matters just like they would if they were to see you in person. The Duty Lawyer will then appear for you in Court via telephone. 

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

Family Violence Restraining Order Duty Lawyer Service

Legal Aid WA can provide legal assistance and representation in court for people who are eligible for assistance from the Domestic Violence Legal Unit (DVLU) Duty Lawyer Service. Please see the changes to the way the services will be conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you need to apply for a family violence restraining order (FVRO) but are unwell or you need to self-isolate, you can telephone the Perth Magistrates Court on 9425 2222 and tell them about your situation. The court will give you directions on how your matters will be handled. 

If you have a court date but are unwell or need to self-isolate, telephone the Perth Magistrates Court on 9425 2222  and tell them you need to self-isolate and follow the court’s directions.

If you require legal assistance about making an application for an FVRO or about a court hearing, please contact the Legal Aid WA Infoline on 1300 650 579. 

You can now apply online for an FVRO through Legal Aid WA and other approved legal service providers. Click here to find out more.

If you are well, do not need to self-isolate need assistance from the DVLU Duty Lawyer Service to apply for an FVRO and are planning to attend the Perth Magistrates Court, please see the below steps:

  1. Go to Legal Aid WA's DVLU office on level 5 at the Perth Magistrates Court. The office is located near the glass doors outside court 57.
  2. Please telephone the number provided and ask to speak with the DVLU (Duty Lawyer) paralegal. If you do not have a telephone, please press the buzzer and take a seat.
  3. The paralegal we will ask you some questions about yourself and your matter.
  4. The paralegal will then arrange for the Duty Lawyer to telephone you and provide you with legal advice and assistance. If you don't have telephone, you can use one at the court. 
  5. The Duty Lawyer may then represent you in court which might be by telephone.
  6. The paralegal may also refer you to a DVLU social support worker.

Family Court Duty Lawyer and Family Advisory Support Service (FASS)

Legal Aid WA will continue to provide legal assistance and social support to people who are eligible for assistance from the Family Court Duty Lawyer Service during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you need assistance with an urgent family law matter but are unwell or need to self-isolate, telephone the Family Court on 9224 8373 and tell them what you need assistance with. The court will give you directions on how your matter will be handled.

If you are unwell or need to self-isolate but have a court hearing, telephone the court on 9224 8222. Tell the court you need to self-isolate and follow the court’s directions.

The court might direct you to the Duty Lawyer Service. If this happens, a Legal Aid WA staff member will call you from a private telephone number to speak with you and get further information and details from you. 

The Family Court is requesting that people do not attend the Family Court building in person even if you are well. 

If you have an urgent family law matter or a court hearing that you must attend in person, are well and do not need to self-isolate, please follow the below steps:

  1. Please telephone 9224 8373 when you arrive at the Family Court.
  2. You will be asked to provide the following details to the Legal Aid WA staff member:
    • Full name
    • Telephone number 
    • Any other information requested
  3. A Legal Aid WA paralegal will contact you on the telephone number you provided as soon as possible to assess your legal and social support needs. 
  4. This telephone call will come from a private telephone number. Please have your phone charged and on you.
  5. After speaking with the Legal Aid WA paralegal, you may be referred to a Duty Lawyer for legal advice over the telephone or to a social support worker.
  6. The Duty Lawyer may be able to represent you in court, but this might be by telephone.

Further information about these steps is available on the Family Court of Western Australia website.

Children’s Court (Protection) Services Duty Lawyer Service

During COVID-19, Legal Aid WA continues to provide legal assistance to people who are eligible for assistance from the Duty Lawyer Service at the Children’s Court. A Legal Aid staff member will speak to you over the telephone rather than see you in person. 

If you have a court date but are unwell or need to self-isolate, telephone the court on 9218 0160 and tell them you need to self-isolate and follow the court’s directions.

If you have a court date, are well and do not need to self-isolate, please follow the below steps:

  1. Call the Children's Court (Protection) Services Legal Aid WA office on 9218 0160 and ask to speak with a Duty Lawyer.
  2. A Legal Aid WA staff member will ask you some questions about yourself and your court matter.
  3. If you are eligible for assistance, a Duty Lawyer will telephone you and give you legal advice.
  4. The Duty Lawyer may then represent you in court by telephone (unless the court has specifically requested for the lawyer to represent you in person).

If the Duty Lawyer speaks with you over the telephone, they will talk about your matters and give you advice just like they would if they were to see you in person. 

 

Reviewed: 18 May 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.