Virtual lawyers a reality for WA Legal Aid
Western Australia has launched a new network of virtual offices in an effort to better facilitate access to justice and put more people face to face with Legal Aid lawyers.
Western Australia’s most vulnerable community members will reportedly have better access to legal advice thanks to the initiative, with the state’s Attorney-General noting that the virtual offices will enable the agency to deliver services in locations where Legal Aid does not have a physical office.
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In partnership with local community organisations at each location, 10 virtual offices have been set up across the state’s metropolitan and regional areas, a statement explained, with Legal Aid already assessing other locations around WA for a second tranche of virtual offices.
“Taking the law where it is needed most”, the initiative has been kicked off with metropolitan office locations at Armadale, Joondalup, Mandurah and Midland, while regional virtual offerings can now be found at Esperance, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Karratha, Leonora and Meekatharra.
Screens with cameras have been installed at community legal centres that have partnered with Legal Aid to host the service, it was noted.
Attorney-General John Quigley said the service is “a really exciting new initiative which will improve access to justice by giving Western Australians another way to access Legal Aid”.
“One of the great benefits of the virtual offices is they are hosted by organisations that already provide many different services in their local communities, including information, advocacy, counselling services, support and referral,” the A-G explained.
“These agencies will now also be able to offer legal advice appointments with a Legal Aid lawyer.”
He said the screens and cameras provide a cost-effective way to deliver services in such locations.
“Legal Aid plays an important role in our state’s justice system, providing a high level of quality services to the Western Australian community.”
Mr Quigley flagged the virtual office network as “the latest in a number of initiatives that Legal Aid has launched to innovate, modernise and broaden its reach, particularly to those living in regional WA”.
Further commending Legal Aid and partner organisations on the “great” new initiative, the Attorney-General called the launch “just another step in ensuring that Western Australians are not denied the right to equal justice because of poverty, marginalisation or location”.