Reasons for Referral

[CLCs Australia will be reviewing Reasons for Referral in consultation with Centres and FVPLS. We have developed the following table as a starting point to clarify when each reason should be used, and welcome your feedback].

Why do we need to record reasons for Referrals?

Capturing and recording Reasons for Referral allows Centres to better understand the pressure on their service. If the data is captured accurately, it can be used as a way to measure the number of people who are turned away from the Centre because of resource constraints (“turnaways”). This data can then in turn be used by the Centre to underpin their work campaigning for improved funding to the Centre. 

Note: In CLASS, the bulk-entry tool for Information and Referrals does not allow you to record the Reasons for Referral. 

What are the main Reasons for Referral?

The Data Standards Manual sets out the following four main reasons for referral:

  1. The Service Provider does not offer the service required
  2. The Service Provider does not have capacity to deliver the service
  3. The Service Provider offers the service, but another provider is more appropriate for the particular Service User
  4. The Service Provider offers the service, but the Service User is not able to access the service because of conflict; Service User’s eligibility to access services; or Service User’s breach of conditions of assistance.

In CLASS, there are seven main Reasons for Referral available to all CLASS Users.  However individual Centres frequently have their own custom reasons for referral.

We will work with Centres to:

  • Standardise and clarify the Reasons
  • Encourage each Centre to “clean up” their Reasons for Referrals so that they align with the agreed Reasons.

The main Reasons for Referral currently in CLASS are set out below, with guidance as to which reasons should be used in which circumstances. We suggest that Centres look at Capacity as the last reason, and only use this when there is no other reason for referring someone away from the Centre.  Note that we are also looking at adding a specific Reason for Referral which can be used by referral bodies such as LawRight QLD, JusticeNet SA, Law Access WA, to record their pro bono referrals.

CLASS Reason for Referral

Circumstances in which to use

National Data Standard Reason (1-4)

Already instructing a private solicitor

Where caller or Service User is already receiving assistance from a private solicitor and it is appropriate that they keep using that solicitor.

If during an Advice, it is clear that a Service User clearly cannot afford a private solicitor, but the CLC also doesn’t have capacity, this should be recorded as “Centre does not have capacity”

  • 3

Centre does not offer service required

This category applies when the person who is seeking assistance is:

  1. Really looking for a non-legal service that the CLC does not provide, eg financial counselling, mental health support.
  2. Looking for legal help in an area of law that the CLC does not and would never provide advice in eg. a person contacts Welfare Rights Centre about a migration law issue (that is not related to social security law).

Do not use this category for the situation where a person is seeking help in an area of law in which the Centre:

  • provides one-off Legal Advice but refers to state Legal Aid Commission for other services such as Duty Lawyer Services or Family Law Representation  – instead select “Eligible for Legal Aid”
  • could provide advice if it had the resources to employ a solicitor with those skills (eg employment law inquiry to a generalist CLC) – instead select “Centre does not have capacity to deliver service”  
  • 1

Conflict of Interest

Your Centre cannot assist due to a conflict of interest. This includes conflicts of interest with former Service Users, staff, volunteers, Management Committee/ Board members.

  • 4

Eligible for Legal Aid 

Your Centre should only use this category where it is highly likely that person would be eligible for services provided by a Legal Aid Commission or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.

This category can be used:

  • At the Referral stage (before a Legal Advice or other service is provided)
  • During or at the end of a Legal Advice
  • For a Legal Task where your Centre is assisting someone to apply for Legal Aid 
  • 3

Not in Catchment area

Use this category where the person seeking assistance lives, and/or the legal problem occurred in, a geographic region not covered by the Centre.

  • 3

Person could not be assisted within time frame needed or wanted by them

Use this category where your Centre cannot provide the person with an initial appointment:

  • within a timeframe that the person wants to wait for
  • in time to meet a limitation date
  • in time for a Court or Tribunal imposed date.
  • 2

Referred to Funded Agency (ie. Welfare Rights)

Try not to use this reason, instead use “Specialist Service Available” (CLCs Australia is considering hiding this Reason)

  • 3

Specialist Service available

Your Centre could assist the person in the area of law, but there is specialist service better placed to assist.

For example, a person calls generalist Centre about a social security matter, is referred to the state-wide Welfare Rights Centre. 

  • 3

*Wanted guaranteed Court representation

Where Service User has explicitly asked for, or clearly needs someone to represent them in court, but the Centre does not have the capacity to do this.  This Reason can be captured during an initial Information and Referral, or during another Service such as Legal Advice or Duty Lawyer.

  • 2

Referral clearing house

[new referral reason to be made available]. 

The reason for the referral is because it is actual the Centre’s role to secure a pro bono lawyer for a Service User.

Referral Centres such as LawRight QLD, JusticeNet SA, Law Access WA, Justice Connect (NSW and Vic) should use this as the reason against a Facilitated Referral. 

Also see Case Study – A pro bono lawyer for Alfredo

  • 3

Centre does not have capacity to deliver service

“Capacity” here means “resources”, that is, the Centre does, or could, provide services in this area of law, but has insufficient resources to provide the service to that particular person.

This should be the default Reason selected where the Centre knows that the person is being turned away because of lack of capacity.

Examples of lack of capacity that could fall into this Reason include:

  • The Centre already has a full caseload
  • The Centre has key staff on leave
  • The Centre has Advice and Casework / Legal Practice Guidelines that specify it will only provide particular services to people within a particular priority group (although obviously a specialist centre already has its own limitations) and/or in particular circumstances
  • The Centre has made an historical decision not to practice in a certain area of law due to lack of resources – eg some Generalist Centres do not assist people with family law property matters
  • Where a person has received some discrete services from the Centre (eg Legal Advice) but needs or would like ongoing support in some way (eg a Representation Service for their court/tribunal matter).   This Referral should be recorded as part of the Legal Advice.
  • Where the matter is something more complex than usual and the Centre does not have the time / ability to run the matter.
  • 2

*** Internal Referrals

[Do not use this reason. CLCs Australia is considering hiding this reason].

Internal Referrals should not be counted towards Referrals generally. If your Centre wants to record these, contact CLASS Helpdesk to discuss creating a separate custom field called “Internal Referral” which can sit within existing Services eg Legal Advice, Representation Service.

Also see Case Study – Zoe’s internal referral

Should not be captured


[All efforts should be made not to use this Reason]. 

If you have a Reason for Referral that you think is not covered by any within this Table, email us so we can consider this in the review of Reasons for Referral:

Alternatively, Helpdesk can help you create a custom Reason that makes sense for your Centre, and maps up to one of the seven reasons.

Each custom field should be mapped accordingly