Faq


Frequently Asked Questions

This website was developed for community workers in Australia.On this website you will find a range of Legal Health Check resources which have been developed to assist community workers to identify the legal needs of their clients.There are four training videos for community workers about using the Legal Health Check:

  • What is the Legal Health Check? (11 mins)
  • Is the Legal Health Check worth it? (4 mins)
  • Issues covered by the Legal Health Check (4 mins)
  • Issues covered by the Legal Health Check (4 mins)

The FAQs below link to information about how to connect vulnerable clients with legal assistance services using the Legal Health Check.

The Legal Health Check is a resource which assists community workers to identify the legal needs of their vulnerable clients and to connect those clients with community lawyers for legal assistance.

Each Legal Health Check works like a clear menu, asking the right questions to diagnose and prioritise legal need. Without your involvement, clients might not recognise the legal dimension of some problems.

The questions in the Legal Health Checks cover the legal issues that vulnerable clients are most likely to experience, and those that will cause the most problems for the client if they are not sorted out.

The Legal Health Check does not create a legal relationship between a community worker, the client or any legal service, and it does not guarantee legal assistance for the client’s potential legal needs. It is a collaborative service delivery tool, that helps connect clients to the right lawyers by asking the right questions.

In the resources on this website, we use the term “community lawyer” as shorthand for all lawyers who provide free legal assistance to vulnerable clients.

This includes lawyers in community legal centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Legal Aid Commissions, as well as lawyers in private practice who provide legal assistance to clients on a pro bono basis or under funding arrangements with Legal Aid Commissions.

Not all lawyers who provide free legal assistance to vulnerable clients identify with the term “community lawyer”.

To view the community lawyers who might assist your clients, go to the Find a Lawyer section.

I’m a community worker and I’d like to learn more about using the Legal Health Check.

The easiest way to find out more about using the Legal Health Check is to watch the tutorial videos on this website:

  • What is the Legal Health Check? (11 mins)
  • Is the Legal Health Check worth it? (4 mins)
  • Issues covered by the Legal Health Check (4 mins)
  • Placing an order (8 mins)

The Legal Health Check is a structured interview tool, which sets out clear questions that will assist you and your clients to identify and prioritise the client’s legal needs.

The Legal Health Check can be embedded in the existing practices and assessment tools used by your community agency.

In addition to the basic Legal Health Check, there are four tailored Legal Health Checks for:

  • youth at risk;
  • new arrivals;
  • clients with mental health concerns; and
  • clients with housing concerns.

Most of the questions are included in all of these Legal Health Checks.

Your clients may be included in two or more of these categories.Choose the Legal Health Check that best reflects the circumstances you are assisting If you are unsure which Legal Health Check to use, try the basic Legal Health Check first.

The questions in the Legal Health Checks cover the legal issues that:

  • vulnerable clients are most likely to experience;
  • will cause the most problems for the client if they are not sorted out; and
  • have realistic solutions.

If your client identifies other concerns that they would like to raise with a community lawyer, or you are unsure what a community lawyer can help with, you can include information in the “Other” section of the Legal Health Check. Examples include discrimination, victims” compensation or personal injury matters.

No – you do not have to complete the Legal Health Check in order to refer your client to a community lawyer.

The Legal Health Check is a new resource for many community lawyers, and you may find that they are not familiar with it.

One goal of the Legal Health Check is to make collaboration between community workers and community lawyers easier.

If your agency has an existing referral pathway or partnership with community lawyers, you can consider incorporating the Legal Health Check into your referral processes. The Legal Health Check is likely to help you identify the legal issues of your clients more systematically, to assist the community lawyers to understand your client’s legal needs and priorities.

If your community agency does not have a Legal Health Check pathway with community lawyers, consider establishing one. More information about establishing a Legal Health Check pathway is in the Resources section.

The Legal Health Check is not designed as a self-help tool for clients for several important reasons.

First, research in the area of legal need confirms that most vulnerable clients will speak to you first about their legal problems. The research calls you the “problem noticer”.

Secondly, many vulnerable clients may not be able to complete the Legal Health Check without your help, because of literacy, language or capability issues.

Thirdly, after you and the client have completed the Legal Health Check together, the client will benefit from your ongoing support to connect with a community lawyer. Depending on the type of service your community agency offers, you may be able to attend the legal appointment with the client and/or receive letters and phone calls from the lawyers and third parties on behalf of the client.

Each State and Territory in Australia has a number of different legal assistance services that provide free legal advice and assistance to vulnerable clients.

These include Legal Aid Commissions, community legal centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Family Violence Prevention Units.

You can find a directory of legal assistance services in the Find a Lawyer section.

Community lawyers may not be able to assist your client with all or some of the legal issues identified in the Legal Health Check if:

  • the community lawyer does not practise in the area of law that your client needs assistance with. For example, some community lawyers do not provide assistance in family law or criminal law matters. In these situations, the community lawyer may refer your client to another legal service.
  • there is a conflict of interest that prevents the community lawyer from acting for your client in relation to a particular issues.
  • there is no legal solution for the issue. Some legal issues have limitation periods which prevent clients from enforcing their rights if they do not take action promptly. In other cases, there is no legal basis to challenge a decision or action. If a community lawyer is not able to assist a client, they will normally explain why this is the case and may refer the client to other support services or complaint agencies.

Depending on the issues you identify using the Legal Health Check, your client may receive assistance from more than one community lawyer. For example, in Queensland Legal Aid Queensland may assist with a family law matter and QPILCH’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic may help with an electricity debt.

Community lawyers provide services on a spectrum:
legal

More clients will receive simpler services, and the level of service will depend on the legal service and the legal issue. Each legal service will apply strict guidelines about who gets the more complex services. You can help your client understand these limits by speaking to the community lawyers at the legal service first.

Most community lawyers will be able to give your client some general advice or information about the steps to take to resolve their legal issues. Ideally, you can remain involved and support the client to understand the advice, and take the right steps to resolve the issue.

In our experience, the best outcomes for clients occur when community agencies establish partnerships with community lawyers who can deliver casework assistance for issues included in the Legal Health Check. For more information about how to establish a Legal Health Check pathway, see the Resources section of this website.

Lawyers in community legal may collaborate with community agencies to establish outreach legal services or clinics. Consider some of the outreach services available in the Find a Lawyer section of this website.

Once you complete the online Legal Health Check, a PDF version of the form is created and sent to your email address.

Completed Legal Health Checks are not stored on the website or in any associated cloud technology.

If you keep a copy of a completed Legal Health Check, it is subject to your organisation’s privacy obligations.

For more information about the relevant documents you should send to a community lawyer with the completed Legal Health Check and how to prepare with the client for the appointment, see the Resources section of this website.

There is currently no ongoing funding for QPILCH to provide in-person training for community workers about the Legal Health Check, except in some Queensland services.

Contact your local community legal centre peak body for information about what is offered in your State or Territory.

If you have any questions about using the Legal Health Check that are not covered by this website, you can contact QPILCH on:

Phone: (07) 3846 6317

Email: HPLCResearch[at]qpilch.org.au

The Legal Health Check resources are available under a creative commons copyright license. The terms of the license allow any person to use and amend the Legal Health Check on two conditions:

  • you must acknowledge QPILCH and NACLC as the creators of the Legal Health Check resource (see the acknowledgement on the Legal Health Check); and
  • you must only use the Legal Health Check for non-commercial purposes. This means you must not charge clients or others for use or access to the existing Legal Health Check resources or any amended versions you create.

You can change the questions in the Legal Health Check to reflect the legal needs and capabilities of your clients. You might discover that your clients respond better if some of the questions are asked in a different way.

If you identify that your clients have legal needs that are not addressed in the Legal Health Check, you can add additional questions. It might be useful to discuss these changes with a community lawyer you know first, to make sure that a legal solution is available for the problems you have identified.

QPILCH is interested in hearing about any changes you make to the Legal Health Check which make it more effective. You can contact QPILCH on:

Phone: (07) 3846 6317

Email: HPLCResearch[at]qpilch.org.au

On this website, you can download and print the following Legal Health Check resources for staff at your community agency to use:

I’m a community lawyer and I’d like to find out more about the Legal Health Check.

The Legal Health Check is primarily designed to be used by community workers and their clients to identify the client’s legal needs, prior to the client meeting with you.

The Legal Health Check is useful as a structured interview tool for lawyers to identify and address the client’s “clustered” legal needs, not just the presenting need

How can I use the Legal Health Check with community workers I already collaborate with?

How How can I use the Legal Health Check with community workers I already collaborate with?

Some community agencies use the Legal Health Check as part of their existing assessment processes. The Legal Health Check resources make it easier for community workers and clients to understand and spot legal issues, and to raise these with you

The Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General has funded QPILCH to evaluate the effectiveness of Legal Health Checks, and to pilot the Legal Health Check in different legal assistance settings.

Best practice guidelines, resources and training will be developed for community lawyers to use the Legal Health Check and facilitate collaboration with non-legal community services.

Contact QPILCH for details about this project:

Phone: (07) 3846 6317

Email: HPLCResearch[at]qpilch.org.au

Some legal assistance services in Australia and overseas have developed legal screening tools, similar to the Legal Health Check, for their community agency partners. You can read more about these resources in the Resources section of this website.

The Legal Health Check works most effectively when a Legal Health Check pathway exists between your legal service and a community agency, and when you can deliver casework services for a majority of issues included in the Legal Health Check.

The Legal Health Check can facilitate your conversation with the community agency about the type of legal issues you can assist with, and other legal or non-legal options that are available for the client.

QPILCH recently participated in a forum with Legal Aid Queensland and the Queensland Council of Social Services about the Legal Health Check, which included a panel discussion with representatives from a number of legal assistance services about referral pathways. A recording of the panel discussion will soon be available online at Legal Aid Queensland’s YouTube channel.

This website and the Legal Health Check resources were developed by the Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House Incorporated (QPILCH) for the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC), with funding from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department.

The Legal Health Check resources are based on the experience of community lawyers and Australian and international research about the legal needs of vulnerable individuals.

The Legal Health Check resources are based on the experience of community lawyers and Australian and international research about the legal needs of vulnerable individuals.

Research confirms that there are several barriers to vulnerable individuals accessing legal assistance:

  • vulnerable individuals in Australia experience multiple, unaddressed legal needs;
  • most vulnerable individuals do not recognise these problems as legal issues; and
  • most vulnerable individuals do not seek assistance for their legal problems. If they do seek help, it is often from non-legal professionals, such as community workers.

The Legal Health Check was created to address these barriers, by resourcing and training community workers (and other non-legal professionals) to identify their clients’ legal needs in order to make a referral for legal assistance to a community lawyer.

Completing a Legal Health Check does not guarantee legal assistance for a client. However, using the Legal Health Check will make it easier for lawyers to focus on the legal needs of vulnerable clients.

The Legal Health Check works best when community agencies have established a Legal Health Check pathway with one or more legal assistance services. These partnerships may involve the community lawyers visiting the community agency for appointments. Community lawyers may also be able to provide legal assistance via telephone appointments or other technology.

For more information about how to establish a Legal Health Check pathway, see the Resources section of this website.

If you would like more detail about Legal Health Check research and legal need in Australia, consider the following resources:

You can contact NACLC on:

Phone: (02) 9264 9595

Email: naclc[at]clc.net.au

You can contact QPILCH on:

Phone: (07) 3846 6317

Email: HPLCResearch[at]qpilch.org.au

QPILCH does not receive any ongoing funding to develop or maintain the resources on this website. However QPILCH is interested to hear about your experience using the Legal Health Check.