General Information - FAQs
What is CLASS?
The Community Legal Assistance Services System (CLASS) is the replacement application for the Community Legal Services Information System (CLSIS).
CLSIS platform was designed for Community Legal Centres and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to manage and record legal cases and advices, to record community legal education work and law reform activities, and as a reporting tool to government.
The need for a new data recording and reporting system for CLCs and FVPLS has been widely recognised. In 2015 the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department provided funding to the National Association of Community Legal Centres to project manage the development and rollout of a database to replace CLSIS. Under this arrangement, CLCs Australia will retain ownership of the application. The Commonwealth has reallocated the funding previously provided for data system support into the National Partnership Agreement. This is distributed by states and territories to various Community Legal Centres according to the needs of each jurisdiction.
Is CLASS ‘cloud’ based? What is ‘the cloud’?
One of the biggest technological advances utilised by CLASS is moving away from software that runs on each individual CLC or FVPLS office computer to a single ‘cloud’ based application.
Utilising the cloud means that instead of the information being stored on your local hard drive in your office computer, or on shared hard drive(s) accessed via your office network, your data will be stored on remote servers accessible via the Internet.
Cloud utilisation is now used in products like Gmail, Facebook, Google Drive or Dropbox. Many widely used Microsoft products have also more recently moved to the cloud, such as Office 365 and Office 2016, which means tools like Outlook can make emails simultaneously available to users’ desktops or remotely via the cloud.
CLASS will be run on servers managed by an Australian service provider and physically located in Australia. This is important as Australian laws and regulations on privacy and legal confidentiality will apply to these server service providers.
What are the advantages of using the cloud?
There are many reasons why cloud computing is increasingly popular for running applications like CLASS, including:
- The minimisation of local office technical support. Only basic Internet ready machines will be required, and the reliance on locally maintained networks is significantly reduced.
- No more local back ups or disaster recovery is required. Such services will be collectively managed to the highest standards.
- No more time consuming upgrades and security patches for each individual machine.
- Updates will be carefully scheduled to minimise work-time interference, and will be rolled out to the entire network all at once.
- The new application will be available on any major platform (Mac, Windows etc.). Computers simply need a recent version of a web browser (Google Chrome is recommended) and Internet access.
- The system is remotely accessible, wherever the Internet is available. This means simpler access for outreach work, or in courts and tribunals.
Is the cloud less secure than local hard drives or servers?
CLCs Australia understands that CLASS data security is a critical priority. As providers of legal services, the highest possible security and practice management standards are required to protect privacy, client legal privilege and confidentiality, and CLASS design is also bound by strict rules from all Australian jurisdictions.
The question over the relative security of cloud verses local data storage is and has been for some years, a lively ongoing public debate.
In CLC and FVPLS offices, many computers and networks are currently well maintained to the latest security standards, with critical security patches and updates being applied in a timely manner. However, in some offices security has been less robustly maintained.
For CLASS, the highest possible standards will be maintained at four levels: at the server maintenance level, at the administration level (IT Magnet and CLCs Australia development and support), at the centre level, and at the worker/user level.
The technical solutions built into the CLASS design include a comprehensive server firewall, self-encrypting hard disks, and rigid server level access control. Data access will be limited, even for admin access by a new data masking process and partial data encryption for all records. There will be robust implementation of all Windows Security Patches and Application Security. At the centre level there will be a flexible and powerful access control regime. For user / worker access, best practice login security protocols will be required.
Will other CLCs/FVPLS/government bodies be able to see my centre’s client records and other data?
All client records and service information is entirely private to individual centres. There is still general information that will be accessible to funding bodies, state managers and CLCs Australia, but these reports contain no personal information on clients or details on their matters.
This sharing is largely the same as it was in CLSIS.
Are all centre records that were on CLSIS accessible in CLASS?
Yes, all CLSIS legacy data was copied across to CLASS, both core and locally customised data. However it should be noted that certain fields were changed in order to comply with the new National Legal Assistance Data Standards. This means some information or fields may be located in different places or called something different.
How will CLASS interact with other databases?
CLCs Australia understands that quite a number of service providers have moved, or are planning to move, elements of their workflow to other databases such as M-Files, LEAP and Community Data Solutions. This may be due to CLSIS limitations, reporting requirements, or due to requests from funding bodies. Each of these systems will require time and resources for investigation and then a build solution for CLASS interactivity.
The priority for CLCs Australia is to complete the development of CLASS as an independent program. Once this has been achieved, we can consider options for interactivity. This will require resource contributions from the relevant service. More information is available on the CLCs Australia website.
My Centre didn’t use CLSIS – can we use CLASS?
Due to funding requirements CLASS was built and initially rolled out to previous CLSIS users. We may be able to consider providing access to suitable external legal service providers, but this process will be gradual and individual to assist these legal service providers in as smooth a transition as possible.
When was CLSIS deactivated?
Centres had access to CLSIS until the 31st March 2017. The Attorney-General's Department then decommissioned CLSIS. Centres did maintain access to their CLSIS for cross-referencing with CLASS for a short period after. Centres were instructed to not use CLSIS for data entry beyond the start of your migration to CLASS.
Are there CLASS Forms available?
The replacement for the 'CLSIS Forms', sometimes known as contact sheets or data capture forms are found here. These forms have been updated where necessary, to be consistent with the National Legal Assistance Data Standards Manual as well as CLASS. These will be a template form and centres are encouraged to update and customise their forms for their individual requirements. Feedback on these forms is encouraged.
Accounts and Settings - FAQs
I forgot my password.
If you cant cant access your account or if you forgot your password click on the Cant access your account? link on CLASS login page.
Clicking this link will send a reset link to your email with instructions on how to reset your password.
Note you cannot repeat the same password you previously used and passwords must be at least 8 characters (maximum 20 characters). It must contain a numeral, uppercase letter and a non-alphanumeric character (eg. !@%$).
If you are having issues with this please contact your Centre's Administrator before calling the Helpdesk.
Who sets up CLASS User Accounts and permissions?
Centre CLASS Administrators create user accounts, not the CLASS Helpdesk.
Each User must be assigned a Role - View Roles here ..... for more details on roles and their permissions.
Can CLASS Users Accounts share an email address?
No. Each User Account must have an individual email address, unique to CLASS.
We need unique email addresses to ensure CLASS is secure and access to CLASS is monitored and accountable. It also means that the 'Audit trail' is accurate.
The email address is required for access to login credentials and forgotten passwords. It will also receive 'Reminders' created in CLASS.
Creating individual emails for each volunteer at a CLC can be a burdensome and costly process so there are a few options:
- Create a new centre email for each volunteer via your IT support. You could create vol1@..., vol2@... etc so that the email can be re-assigned when volunteers leave. This may cost something, but might be useful if you wanted to use it for other purposes
- Use an existing personal email. This is easy, although you might have centre policies in place about personal emails and centre data
- Use a BBS account. CLCs Australia can create a BBS account for each volunteer. These would be vol1, vol2, vol3 etc so they can be reassigned in the future. This is free for centres, however may require training for new users of the BBS.
- Create one generic CLC gmail account and use aliases. For example you could create email@example.com, and then in CLASS the email could be firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and CLASS will read that as a unique email. This email would need to be monitored by a nominated staff person, or your CLASS Administrator, to distribute the login credentials as required as multiple users logging in will have access to other's credentials and might cause confusion. This is free and relatively easy.
How do I set up a volunteer with a CLASS account? Can I use their private email for their account?
Volunteers are set up with CLASS Accounts the same way as other Users. Understandably, volunteers may require a lower level of access so there is a template 'Volunteer' Role available. This can be amended on a Centre or individual basis as required.
All CLASS Users must have their own email address. The email address is used to retrieve CLASS login links and passwords, and receive CLASS Reminders, such as a court appearance or critical date. As most volunteers do not have their own Centre email address, there are a few options. Centres should make their own assessment of which option is most appropriate and taking centre policies and procedures into account. The options include:
- Use a personal email address
- Create a new centre email address for each volunteer such as firstname.lastname@example.org to be used by one volunteer at a time
- Create a generic Gmail account such as email@example.com and use aliases. This is a free option and requires a CLASS Administrator to manage the inbox and distribute CLASS usernames and passwords
For more assistance, contact the Helpdesk.
What devices can I use CLASS with?
CLASS has been designed to work on many devices including desktop computers, tablets and smart phones. To begin with, CLASS will work best on desktop computers and laptops, both PC and Mac. Tablet and smart phone accessibility will be optimised in a later update to CLASS.
We alway recommend accessing CLASS through Google Chrome, as CLASS was optimised to work with this browser.
Can I access CLASS outside the office?
Access to CLASS will be initially set up for your centre's office/s. This is managed by the office's IP address.
Remote access to CLASS, such as from home, court or an outreach location, will also be available via VPN access. This can be set up for individual Users by the Helpdesk. Each Centre is responsible for monitoring remote use.
If you cannot access access CLASS from the office, please contact the Helpdesk.
How do I whitelist our new IP Address?
Email the new IP Address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clients and Client Services - FAQs
Where are 'matters'?
Matters existed in CLSIS to store the data related to the client's legal or non-legal problem. CLSIS required you add an Activity, ie Advice or Casework to each Matter. You could record multiple Activities per Matter.
In CLASS, Matters and Activities were merged on to one screen called Services. Data previously recorded on the Matter screen, such as Funding Category and Problem Type are now recorded on the the Services screen along with the Date of Service, worker, and Service Type. It is important to be consistent with the Counting Rules set up for each service type in the Data Standards Manual when entering services into CLASS.
How do I record casework now?
In accordance with the National Legal Assistance Data Standards Manual, the names of Services have changed. We now have more than Advice and Casework. Most Casework will fall into either Legal Task or Representation.
Where a Centre assists a client in an ongoing and representative capacity, it is now known as 'Representation'. There are 3 types of Representation services. However, some matters previously recorded as 'Minor Casework' (i.e. 0-5 hours) may be now known as Legal Task or Non-Legal Support.
Each centre must familiarise itself with the new Data Standards Manual, and decide how to record their services. A Service Conversion Guide has been created to assist in the transition. CLCs Australia or your PII Representative can provide more information or discuss further.
Can I record and search by File Number?
File Number was an open text field in CLSIS (on the Matter screen) where Centres could record the File Number of a client or activity used in the Centre filing system. This is different to the Client ID, Matter ID and Activity ID which are autogenerated numbers unique to the associated object.
File Number has been brought from CLSIS into CLASS. You will not lose any existing File Numbers. You can continue to record File Number on the Service screen, in the Archive panel.
You can also search by File Number. This is done via Search Services. To add File Number to the searchable columns:
- Select Customise from the top menu. Column Chooser will be displayed in the bottom right corner.
- Drag File Number from the Column Chooser into the desired position.
- You can remove a column by dragging it from it's position into the Column Chooser. This is recommended to make viewing more manageable.
Can I record time spent on a Service?
Yes, you can record the estimated time spent on the following Services:
- Legal Task
- Non-Legal Support (Discrete)
- Non-Legal Support (Ongoing)
- Facilitated Resolution Process
- Duty Lawyer
- Court/Tribunal Representation
- Dispute Resolution Representation
- Other Representation
CLASS also has more options for time spent. It is important to know that time spent is no longer the proxy for Representation services under the National Partnership Agreement. In CLSIS this was recorded via Case Hours and only applicable to Casework.
How do I record 'Advice Checked' in CLASS?
It is best practice that Responsible Person/s check the Services provided by employed and volunteer lawyers and non-lawyers at their Centre. This is usually done via the hard copy files. CLASS allows the Responsible, or Nominated, Person/s to record on a Service that it has been checked:
- From the Service screen, navigate to the Actions tab
- Select New
- From the Action Type drop down, select Service Checked
- Add required details such as the date the Service was check, by who and any relevant notes and Save
To ensure that all the required data has been collected accurately, you do need to navigate across the Client and Service screen, including associated Actions. It is recognised that this could be streamlined and will be considered post-rollout.
How do I enter Bulk Information?
CLASS will have a function to enter Information services in bulk, similar to the Bulk Information, or Information Summary, in CLSIS. This will be implemented in a future update. In the meantime, please look into how to record Information and Referral Service one by one.
Income Scale - is it gross or net income?
The income brackets refer to gross income, ie before tax. This is set out by the National Legal Assistance Data Standards Manual (p 28) and defined by the ABS Personal Income Ranges for the 2011 Census - more information here. Centre staff should decide the most appropriate way to collect this information from their clients.
What is negative income?
Income may be negative when a loss accrues to a person as an owner or partner in unincorporated businesses or rental properties.
Reporting and Accountability - FAQs
General Reporting - FAQs
The data is inconsistent between reports
You may find that the data differs between reports. Each report uses different search criteria to extract and display its data. Reports may appear to be displaying the same fields as each other, but can still differ.
For example, S11 [CA11] counts the number of unique services, whereas S4 counts the number of services by problem type. This means that S4 may count one service in both the Family Law and again in the Civil Law columns, while S11 will only count that service once.
Before contacting the Helpdesk:
- Check your filters - are the dates and funding categories selected the same in both reports?
- Read the notes and definitions on the report specific pages. These will explain the purpose and design of each report and possibly any variances.
If there are outstanding questions, or you need further clarifications, contact the Helpdesk including example reports and the specific filters used.
What is low, medium and high income in the client demographic reports?
CLASS contains the following income levels. For the purposes of the Clients by Priority Group report, income levels were grouped by low, medium and high.
- Negative income
- Nil income
- $1-199 weekly ($1-$10,399 yearly)
- $200 - $299 weekly ($10,400 - $15,599 yearly)
- $300 - $399 weekly ($15,600-$20,799 yearly)
- $400 - $599 weekly ($20,800-$31,199 yearly)
- $600 - $799 weekly ($31,200 - $41,599 yearly)
- $800 - $999 weekly ($41,600-$51,999 yearly)
- $1000 - $1249 weekly ($52,000-$64,999 yearly)
- $1250 - $1499 weekly ($65,000-$77,999 yearly)
- $1500 - $1999 weekly ($78,000-$103,999 yearly)
- $2000 or more weekly ($104,000 or more yearly)
This is necessary information in assisting your centre meet the NPA Performance Benchmarks and maintain funding.
Why is the number of Referrals sometimes a decimal?
Referrals are a new service type in CLASS and the NPA requires Referrals to be included in reports of service types. As current data entry practices do not require or provide for a problem type/law type to be recorded against each referral made, for the purposes of reports, we apportion the number of referrals across the number of problem types recorded.
For example, if a service has 3 problem types (2 Family, 1 Civil) and 1 referral, it will distribute the referral across Family and Civil Law in a 2:1 ratio. That is, 0.66 referral will be counted in Family Law and 0.33 referral counted in Civil Law.
As such, referral counts may include decimal points. The total figure should be a whole number. Please provide suggestions or feedback on how to change the report, or how to record referrals in CLASS to the Helpdesk.
How can I find how many regional, rural or remote clients we have?
Geographic data, i.e. Rural, Regional and Remote, is not yet included in the reports. This is due to technical constraints at the time of the report development.
It will be added as soon as possible, and based on client primary address details.
Why can't I see the number of CLE Projects?
The reports only report on the number of Project Services, ie activities, events, presentations, publications etc that are recorded as Services within a Project.
This is different to how reports worked in CLSIS, where the Project was counted, not the activities.
This applies to S11, N3.2 and S4.3.
You can find out the number of CLE Projects by searching in CLASS. Read more about that here.
My number of informations is way too low.
Information services created before migration to CLASS (~pre February 2017) do not have an associated funding category. To ensure that they are included in reports, select 'Parent Legacy Funding Category' in the report filters.
This funding category was created as a 'nil' category to attach to CLSIS informations.
National Partnership Agreement (NPA) Reports - FAQs
Why is the Total Representation Services in N1 lower than in other reports?
The NPA Performance Benchmark has been designed with very specific parameters. It counts the number of representation services that were closed during the reporting period and the answer the Financial Disadvantage Indicator field on the service. It excludes all services where the answer to Financial Disadvantage Indicator is Unknown.
The decision to design the report in this way followed consultation with the sector and Attorney-General's Department.
Services that were migrated from CLSIS were defaulted to Unknown. Therefore, the period 1 Jan - 30 June 2017 may have less results than you would expect.
You can read more on the NPA Performance Benchmark here.
How do check my centre's NPA Performance Benchmark?
Reports N1, N2, N3.1 and N3.2 are all designed to measure specific aspects of your centre's performance against the NPA Performance Benchmark.
We have a whole page dedicated to the NPA Performance Benchmark and the criteria. Read more here.
Accountability/Financial Reports - FAQs
I cannot print a consolidated funds report or budget
You are not able to print or export from the 'Consolidated' tab on Funds Reports, or Budgets.
This is a known issue and has been raised with the developer.
National Legal Assistance Data Standards - FAQs
What are the National Legal Assistance Data Standards?
The place for CLCs and FVPLs to go to understand the National Legal Data Standards, and CLCs Australia recommended interpretation of them - is here at the Data Consistency Guide.