Queensland Legal Assistance Forum
The Queensland Legal Assistance Forum (QLAF) was established in February 2006 following a recommendation from the National Legal Aid Conference that legal assistance forums should be established in all states and territories in Australia.
The QLAF was established to fulfil a greater coordination role in strategic planning for legal assistance service delivery in Queensland.
The QLAF’s strategic focus is derived from the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020–25 and Queensland legal assistance strategy and Queensland legal assistance action plan, and includes the following guiding principles:
- focus service delivery on people facing disadvantage
- appropriateness of service
- timely intervention, and
- empowerment and resilience.
The QLAF is a voluntary body comprised of senior executives (or a suitably qualified proxy if a member cannot attend) from the following organisations or peak legal assistance bodies:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS)
- Bar Association of Queensland
- Community Legal Centres Queensland (CLCQ)
- Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG)
- Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ)
- Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS)
- Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS)
- Queensland Law Society.
The Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department attends the QLAF as an observer. The QLAF meets quarterly.
If there are matters the sector wishes the QLAF to consider, individuals are encouraged to raise this with the QLAF representative in their organisation, or peak body. If there is no representation within the QLAF, an enquiry may be submitted to the secretariat by email LAF@justice.qld.gov.au.
The purpose of the QLAF is to coordinate and maximise the reach of legal assistance services. The QLAF also provides feedback to the Queensland and Australian governments—and other relevant bodies—on legal assistance strategies and key issues affecting the sector. The QLAF considers opportunities for targeting services between legal assistance service providers, as well as linking legal aid services with other human, community and social services.
The role of the QLAF is to:
- oversee the progress of the Queensland legal assistance action plan commitments
- monitor the outcomes of collaborative service planning and collaborative projects
- monitor the progress of key reform work, including Closing the Gap targets, and the Justice Policy Partnership
- encourage sector alignment with key reform targets and NLAP priority client groups
- monitor emergent issues affecting the legal assistance sector and, where possible, coordinate and lead responses in conjunction with regional and specialist legal assistance forums
- establish working groups, including assigning tasks to working groups and specialist legal assistance forums as needed
- provide advice to enhance the roles of regional and specialist legal assistance forums
- provide feedback to the Queensland Government and other relevant bodies on legal assistance strategies (for example funding strategies, emerging demand and streamlining processes) based on advice from the sector, consultation, and environmental and jurisdictional scanning
- provide regular updates and make information available to all organisations that are represented on the QLAF through the quarterly Communique.
The QLAF will elect a chairperson who will hold that position for a period of 2 years. A chairperson may step down from the position prior to the end of the term. In the absence of the chairperson, another person shall be elected to chair the meeting.
Meetings are held 4 times per year and as required out of session to consider extraordinary matters.
Information about meetings, including agendas, will be distributed at least 1 week in advance where possible.
Decisions of the QLAF will be based on consensus among members. Representatives may choose to record dissenting views.
It is recognised that some representative organisations have internal decision-making processes which involve consultation with their member organisations.
Conflicts of interest
To prevent an actual conflict of interest from arising and to manage any perceived conflict, QLAF representatives will observe the following:
- when the potential for a conflict arises, it is the representative’s responsibility to disclose the nature of the potential conflict
- when a representative discloses a potential conflict, those present will decide whether a possible conflict makes the representative’s continued involvement untenable
- when a direct conflict is identified, the representative must absent themselves from the deliberation and decision-making process
- if the representative continues as part of the discussion after disclosure, the disclosure and subsequent participation shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Secretariat functions of the QLAF are managed by our department. These functions include preparing and distributing meeting agendas, minutes and other documentation to the QLAF. The QLAF secretariat can be contacted by email LAF@justice.qld.gov.au.
Collaboration with other forums
The QLAF will collaborate with other working groups and specialist legal assistance forums with service planning initiatives. The requirements for this collaboration are outlined in Schedule B of the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020–25.
The QLAF will also seek advice from other relevant bodies when necessary.