Getting legal advice
Documents published on the Federal Register of Legislation do not constitute legal advice and Register helpdesk staff are unable to provide advice or assist in interpreting legislation. The purpose of the Register is only to publish Commonwealth legislation.
For general guidance please contact the agency responsible for the law and associated services and programs for advice. Information about which agency is responsible for the legislation is available on the legislation's title page. Alternatively you may need legal advice from a lawyer familiar with the specific area of law you are interested in.
If you cannot afford a private lawyer, low cost or free legal advice may be available through Legal Aid or a Community Legal Centre. It may also be necessary to organise a translator or interpreter if you are not confident with the English language, or if the matter involves documents in languages other than English.
Legal Aid services are funded by the Australian Government and/or the State or Territory Government, depending on which laws are involved. Matters dealt with by legal aid commissions include:
- criminal matters, such as legal representation of a person charged with a criminal offence
civil matters including:
- discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, marital status, or race
- benefits and compensation payable by the Commonwealth
- consumer protection
- claims relating to professional negligence, loss or destruction of property, personal injury, and wills and estates
- family law issues such as injunctions relating to family violence, orders relating to children and spousal/child maintenance
For further information on telephone and face to face services and eligibility for legal aid see the relevant website.
Community legal centres are not-for-profit organisations and do not generally deal with issues such as taxation and commercial disputes. Instead, they provide information, advice and referrals on matters relevant to their local community, or on a specific issue such as:
- child support
- child protection and youth issues
- civil litigation
- discrimination because of an actual or perceived disability
- environmental protection
- welfare rights (Centrelink and Family Assistance income support and benefit issues)
- women's issues such as family law, violence against women, discrimination and employment.
There is usually no means test at community legal centres and some activities may be carried out by local volunteers or by university students undertaking clinical legal education. Centres also operate outreach services to address the particular needs of indigenous people and people in rural and remote areas.
When having documents translated, consider if the relevant government agency or court has rules about who can translate the documents. Selected access to free translation of documents is available from the Department of Home Affairs.
Low cost or free interpreting services over the phone or face-to-face interpreting services are available through the Australian Government's national Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS). The 24-hour TIS hotline number is 131 450.
Alternatively the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) maintains an online directory of accredited translators and interpreters.