Legal Advice Assistance

Sources of Legal Advice for ACAT litigants

ACAT is a dispute resolution body, similar to a Court.  Thus, it cannot and will not, prior to dealing with the matter at hearing or conference, express a preference for one party or take “sides” in a dispute between litigants.  ACAT registrars can however help in the preparation of material by parties so that they can present their cases to the best effect, but it will not advise on or give assistance with the content of that material or those presentations.

As with any dispute resolution body, ACAT appreciates useful, relevant and well-prepared content as this makes it easier to understand clearly what the litigant wants.  In order to achieve this, litigants are encouraged to prepare their material in the best possible way.

There are organisations that will give advice to people on how this should best be done.  They should be contacted as far in advance of the hearing or conference date as possible, as it is not always easy to get an appointment with such bodies at short notice.

ACAT generally works on the idea that people will run their own cases.  This is not compulsory, and is sometimes not a good idea, if the matter concerns a larger sum of money, or you are not really good at making public presentations.  If you are able to run a matter yourself, though, and you have a solicitor or other advocate who knows about your matter (and you can afford it), it is often valuable to spend a short time with such a professional going over how you should present your material, what you should say, what you should ask the other side and so on.  You might not need to have the expense of a lawyer in court with you, but knowing how the lawyer would run the case if s/he were there is often of great benefit.

If you cannot afford a lawyer or professional advocate (eg, an accountant), there are people who can help you run your matter, often at no cost to you.  A list of potential “free-advice” centres follows, together with their contact details.  If you have a matter coming up at ACAT, you should make contact with the one that looks to be of the most relevance to you.

ACT Legal Assistance Forum Legal Help Directory

The ACT Legal Assistance Forum (ACTLAF) has developed the Legal Help Directory, which is a guide to free and low-cost legal services in the ACT. It can be accessed via the Legal Aid ACT website.

ACT Pro Bono Clearing House (ACT Law Society ) provides free legal advice on simple legal matters.  They can assist in determining a legal problem and the possible need for having the Legal Aid Office or a private solicitor to manage it.

Hours: Interviews are on weekdays by appointment only

Phone: (02) 6274 0300

Location: Level 4, 1 Farrell Place, Canberra City 2601.


Free Legal Advice/Legal Advice Bureau (ACT Law Society) provides free 15 minute consultations Mon-Fri 12:30-2pm. In some cases, applicants will be referred to external, private solicitor providers.

Hours: Interviews are on weekdays by appointment only

Phone: (02) 6274 0300

Location: Level 4, 1 Farrell Place, Canberra City 2601.


Legal Aid Office ACT provides legal advice, information, assistance and representation to ACT residents disadvantaged in their access to the law.   One half hour advice is provided either over the phone or in person to all who request it. Further assistance is means and merits tested.

Phone and hours: Free Legal Aid Helpline: 1300 654 314 (Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm)

Location: 2 Allsop St. Canberra City 2601.


Environmental Defenders Office provides legal advice & representation on environmental law issues.

Hours: Office hours Mon-Wed, Fri 9.30am-5:00pm

Phone: (02) 6243 3460

Location: 2 Allsop St. Canberra City 2601 (in Legal Aid ACT)


Consumer Law Centre of the ACT (CLC) provides free legal assistance and advice to low to moderate income consumers, primarily in the areas of consumer credit, telecommunications and utilities, as well as general fair trading consumer protection.

Hours: Office hours Mon-Fri 9.00am-5.00pm weekdays. A Wednesday evening CLC clinic operatioes from 5.30pm -7.30pm and is by appointment only.

Phone: 1800 007 007. This Helpline operates from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Location: 1st Floor Waldorf Apartments 2 Akuna St. Canberra City 2601.


Debt Enforcement Clinic - a joint initiative of the Consumer Law Centre of the ACT and the Australian Government Solicitor, providing legal services to individual consumers affected by debts that are being enforced, or at risk of being enforced, in court. Legal services include providing information, referrals and legal advice about your rights, and assist with preparing court documents and negotiations with creditors.

Hours: Every second Friday from 9:30am - 12:30pm.

Phone: (02) 6143 0044

Location: 1st Floor Waldorf Apartments 2 Akuna St. Canberra City 2601

Canberra Community Law (formerly Welfare Rights & Legal Centre) is a community legal centre providing legal services to people on low incomes or facing other disadvantage in Canberra and its region. Our services include Housing Law, Social Security Law, Street Law, Disability Discrimination Law and Night Time Legal Advice Service:

Housing Law can provide you with free legal advice if you are having problems with Housing ACT or a community housing provider in the ACT. We can also provide advice to private tenants in the ACT who are on low income.

Hours: The advice line is open from 9:30am to 1.00pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Phone:  02 6218 7977

Location: This service operates as a telephone advice line

Website: http://canberracommunitylaw.or…

Street Law provides legal help to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Hours: 9am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday

Phone: 1800 STR LAW (1800 787 529)


Outreaches: Current information about Street Law's outreach locations can be found on its website:

Night Time Legal Advice Service (NTLAS) provides information, referral or one-off legal advice in most areas of law.

Hours: NTLAS operates on Tuesday evenings from 6pm to 8:00pm (from February to November each year)

Contact: please call us on (02) 6218 7999 or visit us at 1st floor, 21 Barry Drive, Turner ACT 2612. Doors open at 6:00pm and you must arrive or ring in by 7:00pm to be assisted on the night.

If you need an interpreter please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 and ask them to ring us.

To contact us via the National Relay Service ring 133 677 (voice calls) or 1300 555 727 (speak and listen).

Website: http://www.canberracommunityla…

Tenants Advice Service provides free legal advice on tenancy matters, information and community education for all ACT tenants. Works on tenancy/housing issues and represents ACT tenants in a range of forums. Phone advice only. Afternoon appointments make over phone.

Hours: Phone between 10am and 1pm Mon-Fri and leave details for a call-back.

Phone: (02) 6247 2011

Location: 21 Barry Drive, Turner ACT 2612

Website: Also see (note that this site has a tenancy agreement available for downloading).

Youth Law Centre ACT - drop in legal and referral service for young people aged 12-25, who may need assistance or information on a range of legal matters.

Hours: Mon-Fri 12.00pm – 4.00pm

Phone: (026173 5410

Location: Level 1, 14 Childers Square Cnr Childers St & University Ave Canberra City 2601.


Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) provides legal advice and representation for indigenous people in Canberra and the surrounding region.

Hours: Office hours Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm

Phone: (02) 6249 8488

Location: 7/9 Moore Street Canberra ACT 2601


Disability Discrimination Legal Service - can help you if you have been discriminated against because of your disability.

Hours: 9am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday

Contact: You can speak to a solicitor by calling us direct on  (02) 6218 7918, if you need an interpreter please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on  131 450 and ask them to ring us.

To contact us via the National Relay Service ring 133 677 (voice calls) or 1300 555 727 (speak and listen)

If you prefer to communicate in writing please email us at

Location: Level 1, 21 Barry Drive, TURNER ACT 2612

Website: http://www.canberracommunityla…

Women’s Legal Centre provides free, confidential telephone advice to women on legal issues.  The organisation also researches law reform and runs community legal advice sessions. You should note that ACAT does not deal with restraining orders or domestic violence, and cannot assist or offer any advice about such matters.  If your query involves these matters, this link may assist you, but you need to go to the act magistrates court to conduct or manage your matter.

Hours: Advice Line - Mon-Fri 9.30am -12.00pm; Admin: Mon-Fri 9.00am-5.00pm.

Phone: Advice Line (02) 6257 4499 / Admin. (02)6257 4377