New work

Opening (digital) doors for people experiencing disadvantage
When real doors close due to pandemics and other disasters, how can we ensure that critical support services remain open and accessible online?

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A rich heritage

Redfern Legal Centre was established in 1977 in order to address the lack of affordable legal services to people facing marginalisation and disdvantage in and around Redfern. The founders were a mix of law students and academics, lawyers, social workers and community activists who came together to develop a model of legal service delivery that would take a holistic approach to tackling clients’ problems.

Early challenges included fighting for the civil liberties of 53 people arrested during the inaugural Mardi Gras parade, opening over 900 action files for prisoners of Long Bay Gaol, and working with the NSW Department of Youth and Community Services to establish the Intellectual Disability Rights Service, ensuring people with intellectual disabilities had greater opportunities to exercise their rights.

The Centre has continued to expand and has a rich list of achievements. Today the Centre serves over 30 postcodes and provides specialist legal advice in areas such as domestic violence, tenancy and housing, police and government accountability, and discrimination and human rights.

Future thinking

In 2020, Redfern Legal Centre produced a Theory of Change and Strategic Plan at a time when the world was beginning to shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Theory of Change focuses on the Centre’s response to flaws in the design of services, policies, and laws in the legal system that are failing people and communities.

The Centre identified a number of strategic goals to help increase access to justice, increase communities understanding of rights, and provide integrated and effective responses. Ensuring innovation and sustainability across service delivery was a primary goal for the Centre, and with an influx of new online users due to the pandemic, the redevelopment of their digital service offering became an obvious target for change.

Enter Folk

Folk was approached by Redfern Legal Centre to aid with the redevelopment of (see the old website here). With one of Folk’s core impact areas being to help not-for-profit organisations navigate significant change and digital transformation (and also being die-hard Inner Westies), we jumped at the opportunity.

Seeing the shift towards online services that COVID-19 had driven, and realising that the website is often the first touchpoint for clients seeking legal help, we put together an approach that would allow us to explore the Centre's rich heritage, unpack and explore pain points in the current digital offering, and use stakeholder and community collaboration to guide our creative expression and solution design.

What we heard

In addition to desk research, analytics and web surveys - Folk talked with 24 people from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of issues and experiences with the Centre. Through these conversations key themes emerged that fuelled both the creative expression and solution design streams of work.

As we listened, we heard about:

  • The importance of human contact – Outlining processes and managing expectations, letting people know when to expect contact; people just wanted to be heard, and were appreciative of being heard regardless of the outcome of their case
  • Help me help myself – Clients feel satisfied and in control when they have autonomy over their decision making, though weren’t always aware of the resources and factsheets available to them.
  • Be for everyone – It was unclear to users who exactly the Centre was for and what issues exactly people could get help with. With First Nations people being a priority population served by the Centre, RLC was often misunderstood as an exclusive resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It was important to signal that the Centre is available to the wider community without affecting the organisation’s sense of identity. It was also important to communicate the diverse mix of local and state-based services that the Centre provides.
  • A useful resource for the legal community – There is a wealth of information on the website that has been built over time that is often hard to find; We needed to increase findability and optimise the navigation; distinctions needed to be made about what audiences particular content was for.

Discovery also unearthed a number of pain points and recommendations for optimisation and new features, which would ultimately inform the direction for the design of the new website.

Visual identity

Armed with our key themes we set to work defining a brand model with Redfern Legal Centre that aligned with their strategic plan and sought to demonstrate values of social justice, empowerment and respect while retaining their strong heritage and brand equity. The brand personality we developed has an emphasis on being grounded, approachable and passionate. The door is always open: The new logo encapsulates the history of the Centre by including (and continuing the use of) the iconic doors of Redfern Town Hall which has been the home of the Centre since it was provided by council in 1977.

Folk have done an incredible job of articulating the energy and mission of Redfern Legal Centre through the use of a clever and striking visual design that reflects on our history, and looks to the future of RLC.

Joanna Shulman
Former Chief Executive Officer

Complementary visual devices and elements were created which informed the user interface components across the website. The doors form part of these devices and help to frame the rich heritage of the Centre - the hero banner on the homepage uses this device to look back in time and picture one of the Centre’s first social workers, Clare Petre, in a photo taken back in 1978.

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The build

Folk worked with our development partner Morpht to roll out the new website on the latest version of the Drupal content management system. Folk set to work styling the front-end components while Morpht built out the back-end and hosting environments, and undertook a migration and remapping of existing content. Clients we spoke with told us they used their mobile phone for internet access, so we gave special attention to the mobile experience, in particular to the intake experience which is often people’s only interaction with the website. We knew from casework studies that around 1 in 10 users would have a disability of some kind, so ensuring that the website was accessible was also a key factor for success. Towards the end of the build Folk provided content population training for Redfern Legal Centre staff members and collaborated on building out new sections of the website.

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We hope this new website will help more people to connect with RLC’s services and resources, empowering people experiencing vulnerability to take control of their legal issues, and facilitating greater access to justice.

Joanna Shulman
Former Chief Executive Officer

The new website and rebrand mark a significant milestone for Redfern Legal Centre and a transformation of its traditional digital service offering. A consolidation of platforms, improvements to the online intake process, improvements to accessibility and findability of content mean new efficiencies for the Centre, and a contemporary digital experience that will ensure their doors are always open to people in need. 

Update: Folk and Redfern Legal Centre are the recent recipients of 2 ANZ Transform Awards: Gold in "Best visual identity from the professional services sector" and Silver in "Best visual identity by a charity, NGO or NFP".

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Written by:
Casimir Nolan,
Senior Digital Strategist