The Queensland Legal Assistance Forum (QLAF) is here to help member organisations address Queensland legal assistance issues.
We do this by facilitating cooperative working relationships with other legal service providers in rural and regional Queensland.
What is QLAF?
The Australian Legal Assistance Forum (ALAF) was established to enable member organisations to consider and address Australian legal assistance issues in a cooperative way and to make recommendations on those issues in a coordinated fashion.
In November 2004, Legal Aid Queensland hosted a National Legal Aid Congress in Brisbane. One of the recommendations coming out of the Congress was that legal assistance forums should be established in all States throughout Australia and that those forums would fill a greater coordination role in strategic planning for legal aid service delivery in each State.
As a result of those recommendations, QLAF was established and held its first meeting in Brisbane on 7 February 2006.
Who participates in QLAF?
The purpose of the forum is to consider opportunities for improved coordination and targeting of services between legal assistance service providers, as well as the linking of legal aid services with other service providers, within the jurisdiction of each State and Territory. Forum meetings will inform and be informed by work undertaken by a National Advisory Body, led by the Commonwealth. The Queensland Legal Assistance Forum shall consist of a representative from each of the following organisations or constituent bodies:
The Attorney-General’s Department (Commonwealth) will participate in the QLAF by invitation.
The purpose of the QLAF is to consider opportunities to coordinate and maximise the reach of legal assistance services and to provide feedback to the Queensland Government and other relevant bodies on legal assistance strategies.
The QLAF will play a central role in driving collaborative service planning under Queensland’s framework (the project plan). Practically, the QLAF will:
- implement and oversee collaborative service planning;
- endorse Queensland’s evidence base;
- drive best practice in service design by:
- establishing working groups and specialist legal assistance forums to inform best practice service delivery for priority client groups; and
- ensuring that new and existing services are developed in a collaborative manner with other legal and non-legal services;
- drive continuous improvement by:
- progressing current initiatives, including through assigning tasks to working groups and specialist legal assistance forums;
- identifying new initiatives as current initiatives are implemented; and
- supporting service providers to identify and adopt methodologies to better understand and measure the effectiveness of their services;
- oversee and enhance the roles of state-wide, regional and specialist legal assistance forums in service system design;
- provide feedback to the Queensland Government and other relevant bodies on legal assistance strategies (for example funding strategies, emerging demand and streamlining processes) based on evidence and best practice in service design;
- consider regular updates from working groups and specialist legal assistance forums on the progress of initiatives;
- provide regular updates and make information available to all organisations that are represented on the QLAF; and
- promote collaboration within legal services and with other non-legal services
The QLAF will elect a chairperson who will hold that position for a period of two years. A chairperson may step down from the position prior to the end of the term. In the absence of the chairperson, another person shall be elected to chair the meeting.
Meetings will be held at least four times per year and as required out of session to consider matters.
Information about meetings, including agendas, will be distributed at least one week in advance where possible.
Decisions of the QLAF will be on the basis on consensus among members. Representatives may choose to record dissenting views.
It is recognised that some representative organisations have internal decision making processes which involve consultation with their member organisations.
Conflicts of interest
To prevent an actual conflict of interest from arising and to manage any perceived conflict, QLAF representatives will observe the following
- when the potential for a conflict arises, it is the representative’s responsibility to disclose the nature of the potential conflict;
- when a representative discloses a potential conflict, those present will decide whether a possible conflict makes the representative’s continued involvement untenable;
- when a direct conflict is identified, the representative must absent themselves from the deliberation and decision making process; and
- if the representative continues as part of the discussion after disclosure, the disclosure and subsequent participation shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Secretariat functions of the QLAF will be managed by Legal Aid Queensland. These functions include preparing and distributing meeting agendas, minutes and other documentation to the QLAF.
Collaboration with other forums
Under Queensland’s framework for undertaking collaborative service planning, the QLAF will engage with working groups and specialist legal assistance forums to identifying and implement collaborative service planning initiatives.
The QLAF should also seek advice from other relevant bodies when necessary.