National data collection and analysis


Community Legal Centres Australia is custodian of the community legal sector’s National Dataset. 

Data is the evidence base for the stories we tell the about the community legal sector and the services we provide nationally. The National Dataset provides reporting capability to national, state and local funding bodies.  It also tells the stories of our sector’s service delivery and achievements, our clients and their communities, and charts trends through time and space. We can use this data to advocate changes that benefits people, communities and community legal services across the country. 

Data collection

Nationally, most community legal centres use CLASS (the Community Legal Assistance Service System) to enter client and service data into the National Dataset. Community legal services connect with CLASS in diverse ways. Some enter data directly into CLASS and others transfer data into CLASS from their own Client Management Systems, like Actionstep. Community Legal Centres Australia works with external providers to maintain all CLASS data and to generate de-identified data reports for community legal services within our membership network and for Commonwealth, state, and territory governments. 

Each year, the Community Legal Centres Australia ICT team: 

  • responds to hundreds of data and support requests via the ICT and Data Helpdesk These requests include questions about data extracts and reporting, data consistency, and customising fields in CLASS to meet centres’ unique needs 
  • supports centres to migrate data between CLASS and other Client Management Systems 
  • delivers regular training to centres on how to use CLASS and other common ICT issues. 


Members of the Community Legal Centres Australia network can find useful information and resources on using CLASS and troubleshooting issues, including how to access support from our ICT and Data Helpdesk, on the CLASS and ICT Resources page. 

Data Consistency Guide

Community Legal Centres Australia produces and maintains the Data Consistency Guide to support centres to improve their data entry practices and increase data consistency. The guide is based on the National Legal Assistance Data Standards Manual and provides guidelines and case studies tailored to the work of community legal centres. 

Data management

Community Legal Centres Australia works hard across the data lifecycle – from collection to publication – to ensure data is managed effectively, safely, and accurately. The following  tables document Community Legal Centres Australia’s work at each stage of the cycle. 

Record and entry phase 


CLASS (data) training – Provide data entry training to users to ensure data consistency and completeness 

Consistency and standardisation 

CLASS data entry improvements – Provide changes to CLASS interface and customisation support for entry 

Improved user experience and improved data 

Data requests – Provide answers for data requests that come through the Helpdesk 

Improved user support 

Data Standards (Data Standards Manual) – Contribute to, and perform analysis for, the Data Standards Committee to ensure data consistency across the sector 

Consistency and standardisation 

Process and analyse phase 


Data counting rules – Develop the rules governing how data is counted across the sector, helping all centres to follow the same ‘recipe book’. 

Consistency and standardisation 

Data reporting assistance – Assist with National Legal Assistance Partnership (NLAP) reporting and other customised reporting for state and territory Program Managers and peaks 

Reduce reporting burden 

Share and publish phase 


Input to Advocacy and publications such as Data Snapshot and electoral boundaries 

Promote use of National Dataset 

Data integration and quality assurance

Community Legal Centres Australia also works to improve data integration and data quality across the data lifecycle. Data integration means being able to combine data from various systems in a standardised way so it can be used and analysed as a complete dataset.  

We are working on several data integration and assurance projects to: 

  • support users to migrate data from CLASS into other client management systems and from other client management systems into CLASS 
  • test the quality of CLASS data and give users and funding bodies confidence in our data 
  • add value to our National Dataset by creating or improving our capability to measure unmet legal need (for example by recording turn-away data), and to report on outcomes as well as outputs. 


These foundational data projects will contribute to a strong data framework which will improve the quality and value of community legal sector data and support and reflect the important work our sector does now and into the future. 

By focussing on data quality, data consistency and data integration, we are generating an important data legacy. This means the stories we tell of sector achievements will be supported by irrefutable and accessible evidence.