The new National Partnership Agreement (NPA) is being negotiated as part of the National Legal Assistance Partnership (NLAP).

The official draft text is now available (see below under documents from the Commonwealth (Documents 8 – 12 below under Documents from the Commonwealth, specifically Document 8). You will note that NLAP will be made up of two agreements – a multilateral agreement that is signed by the Commonwealth and all the States and Territories and a bilateral agreement that is signed between the Commonwealth and each State and Territory ie there will be a different bilateral agreement between each State and Territory.

There are some things to celebrate in the draft of the new agreement, however here are the top 3 concerns (other than to the total amount of funding available under the agreement):

  1. Program Management: Clause 26 allows a State to delegate program management of community legal centres to Legal Aid Commissions. We have long argued that this is a conflict of interest and not appropriate. Clauses 28 seeks to temper this, but we are concerned that State/ Territory governments will adopt the practice of delegating CLC administration to their Legal Aid Commissions.
  2. Advocacy gag: See Schedule A, clauses A17 to A22. We understand that what the Commonwealth is seeking to do is restrain CLCs from undertaking public facing campaigns. We are keen to know if you run or are involved in campaigns that would fall into this category. Some examples include Fake Art Harms Culture and Make Renting Fair. Please email us at with any public facing campaigns you are involved in.
  3. Data: In Clause 32(b) – you will see that the Commonwealth is seeking to a huge level of data and linking it to payments under the agreement. In addition to this, they are seeking a huge amount of unit level data (see tables on pages 14 to 16 of the Data Requirements paper) that raises serious concerns about solicitor confidentiality and privacy under the Australian privacy principles. We also fear the impact that this level of data collection will have on clients who face discrimination and disadvantage.

We continue to raise concerns about the overarching timeframe and what it means for individual Centres, many of which currently do not know what funding they might receive after 30 June 2020. We know that this is having particular impacts in the Northern Territory and Tasmania and doing what we can to address them.

The latest information that we have available is:

  • The Commonwealth is working towards having an agreement signed by or in March 2020 – this seems unlikely at the moment
  • The Commonwealth has provided the funding amounts (see Document 10 below under Documents from the Commonwealth), and they consider that this should not delay the States and Territories in making allocations
  • The Commonwealth considers that integration of the ATSILS into NLAP is not negotiable
  • There might be flexibility about whether Legal Aid Commissions (LACs) can manage CLC funding. But the ATSILS funding must not be managed by LACs.
  • The Commonwealth is willing to consider rewording of the restriction on lobbying and campaigning but the restriction must remain
  • The Commonwealth is willing to work with the sector in relation to their data requirements.

Documents from CLCs Australia

Documents from the Commonwealth

General caveats for the spreadsheets (Documents 11 and 12)

  • The attached spreadsheets are for demonstrative purposes only and does not represent the final format in which the National Performance Indicators or Legal Assistance Service Data will be provided.
  • The figures contained in these spreadsheets are for demonstrative purposes only and do not represent actual service data from LACs, CLCs or ATSILS.
  • Reporting templates and other guidance will be developed with the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) and Advisory Group and provided before 1 July 2020.

National Performance Indicators (Clause 32)

  • Data provided through the National Performance Indicators will be aggregated at the jurisdictional level, separately identifying the different subsectors (i.e. LAC, CLC and ATSILS sectors).
  • The attached spreadsheet (DEMONSTRATION – NLAP – National Performance Indicators – Based on Official Draft – 25 February 2020) contains mock data which will give you an idea of the level of information that would be provided through the National Performance Indicators. 
  • The spreadsheet is based on the National Performance Indicators included in the Official Draft of the NLAP, circulated on 14 February 2020.

Legal Assistance Service Data (Schedule D, Clause D14)

  • Data provided through Schedule D is proposed to be provide at unit‑level, as outlined in the Discussion Paper. The first year of the data is proposed to be provided as per the requirements in Clause D12.
  • The attached spreadsheet (DEMONSTRATION – NLAP – Legal Assistance Service Data – Discussion Paper – 25 February 2020) contains mock data which will give you an idea of the level of information that would be provided through the unit‑level data.
  • The spreadsheet is separated by service type for readability, but would in theory be provided in a consolidated file/format.
  • The spreadsheet is based on the Discussion Paper, circulated on 16 December 2019.