27 – Complaints and feedback

27 – Complaints and feedback

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) takes seriously all complaints and feedback that it receives.

We aim to resolve any complaints quickly, fairly and without prejudice.

This section explains our process for dealing with all complaints and feedback.

Contact the Internal Legal Services team

If anyone has any complaints or feedback about our organisation, a staff member (including an in-house lawyer) or a private lawyer who is funded by our organisation, then they may contact our Internal Legal Services (ILS) team:

  • by email: complaints@vla.vic.gov.au
  • by phone: (03) 9280 3789
  • in writing:
    Internal Legal Services
    Victoria Legal Aid
    GPO Box 4380
    Melbourne Vic 3001

The ILS officer will record the complaint or feedback.

For complaints about breaches of privacy see Privacy complaints.

Feedback

If the person is lodging feedback (that is, comments which do not require any resolution), then the ILS officer will pass it on to the relevant person in our organisation.

Complaints

If the person is lodging a complaint, then the ILS officer will discuss with the person how the complaint may be resolved. Then, depending on the nature of the complaint and what the person wants to do, the ILS officer will do one of the following:

  • investigate and help resolve the complaint immediately, if possible
  • if the complaint is connected to a grant of legal assistance – refer the complaint to the relevant officer for action in accordance with the Legal Aid Act 1978
  • refer the complaint to the relevant manager or other staff to resolve (for example, ILS may refer the person to the relevant manager if that person has not already attempted to resolve the complaint directly with the manager)
  • refer the person to another appropriate organisation for action (for example, the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner or the Victorian Ombudsman).

Complaints about the professional conduct of a lawyer

If the person’s complaint is about the professional conduct of an in-house lawyer or of a private lawyer funded by our organisation, then ILS may refer the person to the relevant professional standards body at:

Information about the complaints-handling and disciplinary processes of these professional organisations is available on their respective websites.

What will happen next?

If we investigate the complaint, then we will write to the person who complains to tell them the results of the investigation, as far as possible. However, because of the confidentiality provisions of the Legal Aid Act, we may not be able to give the person any details of the investigation if it relates to a grant of legal assistance provided to another person.

If a complaint is about a private lawyer who is with a law firm which is a member of our Section 29A Practitioner Panel or Section 30 Referral Panel and, after investigation, the complaint is found to be valid, then we may remove or suspend that lawyer from the relevant panel.

If a complaint reveals a problem in any of our systems, then we will attempt to fix the problem so it does not happen again.

If it is appropriate to refer the complaint to another organisation, then the ILS officer will seek permission to do this from the person who is complaining. It is then up to the other organisation to resolve the matter and to keep in contact with the person.

Review rights

If the person who complains to our organisation is not satisfied with how we have dealt with their complaint, they may write to the Victorian Ombudsman.