|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Legal Aid Commission was established on 1 September 1981 under the provisions of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1978 (No.9245). The Commission superseded the Legal Aid Committee (VA 878), the Office of the Public Solicitor (VA 2282) and the Australian Legal Aid Office (VA 4150).
A change of name from Legal Aid Commission to Legal Aid Commission of Victoria occurred on 1 May 1986 following proclamation of the Legal Aid Commission (Amendment) Act 1986. However there was no change in the Commission's functions.
The Legal Aid Commissioners were responsible to the Attorney-General under s30 (2) of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1978.
The Commissioners met on a monthly basis, although ad hoc meetings were also held throughout the year. The Commission consisted of the Chairperson of the Legal Aid Commission and ten Commissioners nominated by the Attorney-General's Department, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar Council, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, the staff of the Commission, the Minister for Community Services from names submitted by the Victorian Council of Social Services, the Director of the Legal Aid Commission and an individual personally selected by the Attorney-General as a person having had experience in the provision of voluntary legal services.
The Legal Aid Commission received funding from the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments and from three other sources. These were a portion of the interest earned on investment of solicitors' trust funds, contributions made by legally assisted persons and legal costs awarded by the courts to legally assisted persons.
The Legal Aid Commission was organised into a Directorate and six Divisions. Each division was managed by an Associate Director. The six divisions were Assignments, Criminal Law, Education and Information, Family Law, General Law, and Regional Offices.
The Directorate consisted of the Director and Deputy Director. The Director was responsible to the Commission for the administration of the legal aid scheme established by the Act and supervised the provision of legal aid by Commission staff. The Deputy Director assisted and deputised for the Director, supervising the Investigations and Freedom of Information Officer and was responsible for the Personnel Branch.
The Assignments Division received and assigned or refused applications for legal assistance, monitored grants of assistance and assessed legal costs.
The Criminal Law revision acted for legally assisted persons charged with indictable offences. It provided a visiting advice service to the Metropolitan Reception, Pentridge and Fairlea Prisons.
The Education and Information Division provided community legal education programmes, continuing legal education for staff, and library services to staff and the general public. It also conducted legal research and public information functions, and provided support for law reform activities.
The Family Law Division acted for legally assisted persons in family law matters and provided a family law advice service.
The General Law Division acted for legally assisted persons in civil, welfare and summary criminal matters. It provided duty lawyer services in Children's Courts and at Melbourne and Prahran Magistrate's Courts.
The Regional Offices Division performed the full range of legal aid functions through regional offices.
The Legal Aid Commission of Victoria was abolished on 14 December 1995 and replaced by VA 4160 Victoria Legal Aid. The change was effected by the Legal Aid Commission (Amendment) Act 1995 (No.48/1995).
Location of Records
See below. For records of the predecessors of the Legal Aid Commission see the List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, sections 3.4.4 (Public Solicitor), 3.4.5 (Legal Aid Committee) and 3.4.6 (Australian Legal Aid Office).