Getting Legal Assistance
Overview of the Process
If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness and require legal assistance from the HPLC please free call 1800 606 313. This is the clinic's intake service. If we are unable to take your call we ask that you leave a message and we will call back within 24 hours. If your matter is urgent, please say this in your message. When speaking with the intake line you will be asked for details of your personal circumstances in order to assess your eligibility for the HPLC and for information about your legal matter.
If necessary, we will make an appointment for you to meet with a lawyer at one of our outreach locations. It may be that the advice you need can be provided in that first session. If your matter requires more than one-off advice, your HPLC lawyers will provide ongoing legal advice for free.
If we are unable to assist you because, for example, you have come to us with a family or immigration law issue, or because you do not meet the eligibility criteria, we will do our best to refer you to another legal service provider.
Privacy & Confidentiality
You can ask that a caseworker attend any of the meetings between you and your lawyer. The caseworker must maintain confidentiality and act consistently with legal professional privilege. The primary purpose of the caseworker's involvement is to enable you to obtain legal advice and representation.
Personal information and health information
The HPLC manages your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic) and the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic). These laws apply when we collect, use and disclose (i) information about you where that information identifies you or could identify you, for example, your name, address, phone number or email address (‘personal information') or (ii) information about your health or your use of health services (‘health information').
Your instructions to us and information we collect in the course of running your matter will include personal information and may include health information. We will use this information to provide you with legal and non-legal assistance in accordance with your instructions. We will only share your personal information and your health information to the extent needed to act on your instructions and in a way that meets our professional obligations, or as required by law.
We may also use your information for: gathering statistics; preparing a de-identified summary of your legal matter to use in advocacy work and publications; and risk management, including file review by other community legal services. This work is important because it helps us to reform laws and policies that have a negative impact on our clients and to improve our services.
You can ask us for access to the personal information or health information we have on your file and, in most cases, we will provide this. If you tell us that you do not want your personal information or health information to be used for a particular purpose, we will generally agree to that request.
Information about your legal problem may be passed between the lawyers helping you. If you have any concerns about this, please discuss them with your lawyer at the first meeting.
If you are not happy with the legal advice provided, or with the way you have been treated by us, you have the right to make a complaint.
- If you would like to make a complaint please call the HPLC Coordinator on 1800 606 313 or 8636 4408 or email email@example.com. The HPLC Coordinator will discuss your complaint with the HPLC Principal Lawyer/Manager, who will respond to your complaint within 10 days of your complaint being received.
- If you are not happy with the response of the HPLC Principal Lawyer/Manager, or if your complaint is about the HPLC Coordinator or the HPLC Principal Lawyer/Manager, you can raise your complaint with the PILCH Director of Legal Services by calling 8636 4400 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (please identify that you are calling/emailing with a complaint about the HPLC). The PILCH Director of Legal Services will respond to your complaint within 10 days of your complaint being received.
- We will try to resolve your complaint in a fair and reasonable way. If the complaint can't be resolved, you have the right to have your complaint referred to an independent person outside of PILCH. If you want to take the complaint further and it is about a lawyer, you can complain to the Legal Services Commissioner. You can write a letter or download a complaint form from www.lsc.vic.gov.au and post it to GPO Box 492 Melbourne VIC 3001. Or you can call them on 9679 8001 or 1300 796 344.
Are there any charges for HPLC services?
Costs and disbursements
- Our costs - Our legal services are free unless you become entitled to your legal costs (for example, where a court or tribunal orders the other party to pay your legal costs). Before we start any proceedings where you might be awarded costs, we will ask you to enter a ‘costs agreement' which will set out how the costs will be calculated and an estimate of the total cost. If you have signed a costs agreement and then you become entitled to your costs, we may send you a bill.
- Potential costs order - If you go to a court or tribunal and you are unsuccessful, there is a risk that the court or tribunal will order you to pay the winning party's legal costs. You will be responsible for paying these costs, not the HPLC.
- Disbursements - You may be asked to contribute to disbursements. Disbursements are expenses such as court and tribunal fees, fees for expert reports and costs for photocopying and postage. We will talk to you about any disbursements that you would need to pay. We will only charge you for these disbursements if you have agreed that you will pay for them.
HPLC Clinic Times and Locations