In September 2023 we celebrated our 40th anniversary and enjoyed these wonderful memories and messages from some of the amazing sisters who have helped build WLS NSW over the decades.
This animated timeline was created for our 40th anniversary and tells the story of Women’s Legal Service NSW.

Old WLRC logo

In 1982, a group of female legal activists founded Australia’s first legal service for women. The Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WLRC) was established to promote access to justice through the provision of legal services, law reform, and community legal education; particularly for women disadvantaged by social and economic circumstances.

In 1986, the Women’s Legal Resources Centre recognised the need for a community legal centre dedicated solely to women experiencing domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Advocacy Service (DVAS) was established to provide advice, advocacy, information, and education, in addition to developing policy and working towards law reform. This service has since been re-named the Domestic Violence Legal Service.

Between 1995 and 1998, the Women’s Legal Resources Centre established five Legal Outreach services across Western Sydney and in Wyong. These services enable women to receive face-to-face legal advice in their local areas.

In 1996, with the aid of Federal Government funding, the Women’s Legal Resources Centre formed the Indigenous Women’s Program (now called the First Nations Women’s Legal Program). This program aims to improve the services offered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, providing free legal advice, referrals to other community and legal organisations, training, and community workshops.

In 1996, the NSW Government, through the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, provided funding to set up a Training and Resource unit for the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Program. This unit provides training and resources to Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes (WDVCAS) throughout NSW (now called Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services) and administrative support and resources to the WDVCAS Network and is now provided by Legal Aid NSW.

As Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WLRC) grew and developed it’s diverse programs, the board of directors changed the name of the service to Women’s Legal Services NSW to reflect the work of the organisation. This change occurred in 2003.

Old WLS logo

In 2009 we launched the LEAP project to take information and advice into women’s prisons. The project won the Law & Justice Foundation Community Legal Centres Award in 2010. 

Until 2010, Women’s Legal Services NSW auspiced the Walgett and Bourke/Brewarrina Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (WFVPLS & BBFVPLS), which were funded by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department. The Family Violence Prevention Legal Services aimed to facilitate community development in the prevention of family violence. The services combined legal resources with skills training, group and individual support, community education and advocacy. They are now auspiced by Thiyama-Li in Moree.

In 2012 we began Ask LOIS (Legal Online Information Service) a secure website and monthly webinar providing online training, resources and a support network for community workers who are responding to women with legal needs.

In 2013 we developed the Working Women’s Legal Service with a grant received from the Jesse Street Trust. While discrimination is one of our priority areas of law, the numbers of women accessing our service for advice about discrimination on the basis of sex, pregnancy, carer / family responsibilities and sexual harassment in the course of their employment was relatively small and not reflective of reported statistics as to the prevalence of discrimination at work in these areas.

In 2016 we became the Women’s Legal Service NSW, and introduced a new logo.

WLS NSW new logo

In 2023 we emerged from the Covid-19 restrictions to face-to-face service delivery with a new online legal information resource for women and launched the Willow website and App.


Through the provision of access to legal information, resources, advice, law reform and training Women’s Legal Service NSW works to achieve its goal of a just legal system for all women in NSW.

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