Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Legal Services Commission

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:11): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney inform the council about the Legal Services Commission's activities in Elizabeth?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:11): I would be most happy to—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. K.J. MAHER: —and I thank the honourable member, who is well across his brief and his understanding of community events—

An honourable member interjecting:


The Hon. K.J. MAHER: —and who represents facts very well, as he usually does. He is very—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! I can't hear the minister.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Thank you for your protection, sir. The Legal Services Commission has had an office at Elizabeth since the commission came into being in 1979. Back then it was an office of about three people, and in the 43 years since the commission was established the commission's presence in Elizabeth has been a vital component of access to justice in those northern suburbs.

As was the case in 1979, there are significant pockets of disadvantage in the northern suburbs—as there are in most places in our state, unfortunately. There are levels of disadvantage that can go hand in hand with clusters of legal concerns and problems, and that is why it is crucial that the Legal Services Commission continues to have a presence on the ground in the Elizabeth area.

For those reasons, I was pleased to open the refurbished and expanded Elizabeth office of the Legal Services Commission back in late August this year. The office, in the Windsor Building at the Elizabeth Shopping Centre, is conveniently located for many people in the community, being in that busy precinct. In any given week about two dozen Legal Services Commission staff work from the Elizabeth office providing crucial assistance to people in Adelaide's north.

In the northern part of Adelaide the commission's Elizabeth office provides crucial and expert help to a wide range of clients in areas relating to criminal law, family law matters and a variety of civil issues. This also includes the commission's assistance for victims of domestic violence, efforts to protect older South Australians, and assistance provided to vulnerable children.

The Elizabeth office is the commission's second largest office after its head office in the CBD. It is not surprising then to learn that the Elizabeth office is a crucial part of the work the commission undertakes each year in the legal assistance sector.

The Legal Services Commission operates a duty solicitor and representation service, which is vital to all South Australians at courts, and it is especially true at Elizabeth. The duty solicitor service that operates out of the Elizabeth office of the commission contributes especially to the effective running of the Elizabeth Magistrates Court, and to ensuring that members of the community have access to quality legal advice and representation.

In Adelaide's northern area there is a sizeable Aboriginal population, and the services the Legal Services Commission provides to Aboriginal South Australians in the Elizabeth area is an important part of the work in that area, in that general region, across the state and more generally. I note in the last financial year that the commission provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients with more than 7,000 services relating to Legal Aid grants, duty lawyer assistance and legal advice appointments.

I would like to acknowledge the commission's chair and chief executive of the commission, but more particularly all the staff who contribute to its effective operation. The expansion and refurbishment of the Elizabeth office reflects the commission's ongoing determination to enhance the delivery of legal assistance services to the community, and I commend the commission's activity for almost half a century of services to the Elizabeth area.