VIC Can't Get Legal Aid Without Healthcare Card?

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13 June 2014
My brother is in jail on remand. He has never been on Centrelink benefits and has had no income for a year and has no assets but Legal Aid Victoria can't help him as he has no healthcare card. What do I do now?


Hi Justine,

Certain legal services from Legal Aid are definitely only available to people with limited means, however I do not think you necessarily need to have a healthcare card in order to qualify for those services.

Your brother may be able to apply for a ‘grant of legal assistance’ which may be granted for criminal matters covering legal advice, preparing legal documents, and representing you in court.

This is what Vic Legal Aid say about who can qualify for a grant:

"Who can get a grant of legal assistance
Our funds are limited and demand for legal services is high, so we have very clear rules about who can get a grant of legal assistance. This means that our money goes to help people who need us the most.

When considering if you are eligible for a grant, we look at:

  • what your case is about
  • the likely benefit to you
  • if helping you can benefit the public
  • your financial situation using a means test.
Means test
The means test applies to most adults and takes into account:
  • money you get from work, welfare benefits or other sources
  • if you own anything of value, like a house or car
  • your weekly living expenses.
The means test also looks at whether you support anyone else, or if they support you. These people are called ‘financially associated persons’ and their income and assets are included when we work out if you are eligible for a grant."

Below is a link to the application form. Apparently it takes about 5 days to process.

Best of luck, hope this helps!