This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit legalaid.vic.gov.au, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

Grants of assistance for interstate matters

Information about getting a grant of legal assistance, particularly for those whose legal matters straddle formal state borders.

Where to apply

Proceedings on foot

If there are family law proceedings on foot outside Victoria that relate to a children's matter, the parties will have to apply to the legal aid commission where the proceedings are located. For example, if the matter is to be heard in the federal or family court in South Australia then the applicant will have to apply to the Legal Aid Commission in that state.

If the proceedings are transferred into Victoria then the parties can apply for a grant of aid from VLA.

Exceptions

If a person is applying for a recovery order for a child to be returned to Victoria then they can apply for a grant of aid from VLA. However, do not make a referral in this instance if the child(ren) has been interstate for more than three months unless it is a recovery involving risk.

If a person lives in border town along the NSW/Victorian border.

See Flexibility for people living in NSW/Victorian border towns.

No proceedings on foot

If there are no proceedings then we have regard to where the children are living. The caller should be referred to the Legal Aid Commission in the state where the children are living.

Flexibility for people living in NSW/Victorian border towns

After a successful trial, Legal Aid NSW and VLA have a new flexible forum test for people who live in a local government or law society area along the NSW/Victorian border and who are seeking a grant of assistance for a Commonwealth family law matter. Their lawyer must be a panel lawyer for either VLA or Legal Aid NSW. Their lawyer's principle place of business must be in the local government or law society area.

So, for example a person living in Wodonga, Victoria wants legal representation to respond to a family law matter being heard in Albury, NSW. The lawyer is also based in Wodonga and on VLA's family law panel.

The areas involved are:

Victoria

Mildura, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Campaspe, Moira, Wangaratta, Indigo, Wodonga, Towong, East Gippsland.

New South Wales

Wentworth, Balranald, Murray River, Berrigan, Federation, Greater Hume, Albury, Snowy Valleys, Snowy Monaro, Bega Valley.

The publication below has more detailed information about this forum test.

See Interstate matters—Forum test

More information

Reference

VLA Handbook for lawyers

The grants handbook explains which legal aid commission is the appropriate place to apply when matters or parties are interstate. The site also has links to application forms at various commissions.

See:

Cross border Justice Report

This report outlines how VLA and NSW Legal Aid (NSWLA) are working together to improve access to legal assistance for people living close to the border.

See Cross border justice report(opens in a new window)

Fact sheet about the flexible forum test for people living along the NSW/Victorian border who have a Commonwealth Family Law Matter.

See VLA/Legal Aid NSW—Flexible forum test pilot (docx, 49 KB)(opens in a new window).

Updated