An Emergency Legal Assistance Response Plan for the ACT

The ACT Legal Assistance Forum (ACTLAF) – comprised of Legal Aid ACT, the Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Law Society, the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, the Aboriginal Justice Centre and the Bar Association – have developed an Emergency Legal Help Plan which would be activated in the event of a disaster such as the 2003 bushfires.

In developing the plan, ACTLAF drew upon lessons learned during the emergency legal assistance responses to the Victorian bushfires in 2009 and the Queensland floods and cyclone of 2010/11, and consulted widely with participating agencies and other stakeholders to ensure as far as possible that the plan will be effective in the event of an emergency in the ACT.

The Plan has been endorsed by the Councils of the Law Society and the ACT Bar Association.

The ultimate objective of this plan is to ensure that the Canberra community is able to access essential legal services in the event of a significant emergency event.

The principal responsibility of the Law Society will be to marshal a force of volunteer lawyers from the private and public sectors. We propose to go about this in two ways: firstly we will prepare a contingent list of lawyers who are willing to volunteer in advance; secondly, we will, in accordance with the Plan, call for volunteers in the aftermath of an emergency.

ACT Emergency Legal Help

The ACT Emergency Legal Help (ACTELH) working group is focused on the emergency legal assistance response plan for the ACT.The ACTELH working group comprises representatives of:

  • ACT Community Legal Centres
  • ACT Law Society
  • ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate
  • Legal Aid ACT

The goals of ACTELH are to:

  • Maintain a state of readiness to activate ACT Emergency Legal Help
  • Provide a prompt and effective initial legal assistance response in the event of a large scale emergency in the ACT

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