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. 

Following the lockdown announcement starting on 29 June 2021, we continue to provide the same range of services, although some 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.

*** Please understand that changes to how we provide our services may be made at short notice at this time.

Advice appointments 

For our Perth office, 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. The reception at our Perth office will reopen to the public on Tuesday 6 July 2021. 

Our other regional offices will continue to offer advice appointments and remain open to the public. 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)?
  5. (For regional offices) Have you been in the Perth or Peel regions anytime after 22 June 2021?

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. 

If you are being assisted by staff from one of our regional offices and you have been in Perth or Peel anytime after 22 June 2021, you will also need to wear a mask and may be offered a telephone or video appointment instead.

Attending courts and hearings

There may be restrictions on who can enter court buildings and hearings during the transition out of lockdown, as well as requirement to wear masks indoors and observe social distancing. More information about changes to court processes in WA is available on the website of each court:

Duty lawyer services

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

*** You should visit the website of the relevant court to find out what changes have been made for listings between 29 June and 2 July 2021.  Some matters have been automatically rescheduled by the court. There are restrictions on people attending in person for court hearings in the affected regions. ***

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.

Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) 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 an 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 due to recent travel, or contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or being in a listed exposure site, do not enter the court. 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. Find out more: Changes to applying for an FVRO

If you are well and do not need to self-isolate and would like assistance from the DVLU Duty Lawyer Service to apply for an FVRO at the Perth Magistrates Court, please follow these 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 0437 883 789 and ask to speak with the DVLU (Duty Lawyer) paralegal. If you do not have a telephone, please go back to the ground floor and ask the Registry about using the public telephone.
  3. Our paralegal we will ask you some questions about yourself and your matter.
  4. If you are eligible, a duty lawyer will have an appointment with you by phone to provide you with legal advice. If you are ineligible due to the impacts of COVID-19, our paralegal will arrange for you to be called by the duty lawyer for legal advice. If you don't have a phone we will make alternative arrangements.
  5. The Duty Lawyer may then represent you in court, possibly by telephone.

These measures are to protect you and our staff, and to assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19 through the community. If you have concerns about attending court, do not hesitate to contact the court or DVLU prior to your attendance. 

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

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

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.

 

More information

 

Reviewed:5 July 2021 2.00pm

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.