Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is currently consulting on possible changes to its means test. The means test is used to determine whether someone is eligible for legal aid. The means test is being reviewed to make sure the factors VLA considers reflect the financial circumstances and experience of people who need legal help, so disadvantaged people do not miss out on legal aid.
VCOSS previously held a consultation on VLA’s earlier consultation paper, helping to inform the VCOSS submission.
The VLA Options Paper sets out a range of possible reforms, including:
- changing the income test – including changing the benchmark income for the income test, and increasing deductions
- changing the assets test – including increasing the allowable assets threshold and introducing separate asset allowances for homeowner and non-homeowner applicants
- narrowing the definition of ‘financially associated persons’ (people who might be expected to help the applicant with financial support)
- exempting certain groups of people or types of legal matters from the means test.