Means test definitions

This list of key definitions form part of our means test.

The definitions are designed to make it easier to understand our means test and how we apply it.

Answers to commonly asked questions about the means test can be found at Commonly asked questions about the means test.

List of key definitions


This is the person who is applying either directly, or through a lawyer, to us to receive a grant of legal assistance.

Assessable income

This is the income we consider a person has remaining after expenses have been deducted from their overall income.


Assets are any kinds of property that an applicant possesses, that has value. This includes but is not limited to, real estate, cars, money and shares.

Assisted person

This is the person who is, or was, receiving a grant of legal assistance from Victoria Legal Aid.


Victoria Legal Aid’s online system for lawyers to lodge applications for grants of legal assistance.

Business expenses

These are the amounts of money that a person must spend to earn an income. We will consider the expenses declared to determine whether they are genuine or whether they appear to be personal expenses.

Child maintenance

Financial support provided by one or both parents or carer of a child by the other parent under either an order made pursuant to s. 66G of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) or a legally enforceable agreement.

Child support

Financial support provided by one or both parents to the other parent or carer of a child under an administrative assessment, a court order or a legally enforceable agreement registered or registerable with Department of Families,Fairness and Housing (Child Support).

Consumer price index (CPI)

CPI is defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as a measure of inflation or the average change over time in the prices paid by households for goods and services.

Crimes mental impairment matter (CMI)

CMI matters that are exempt from the means test are limited to a review, variation or revocation of, or appeal against a supervisory order under Part 5 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic).


We consider a dependant to be any person who relies on the applicant for financial support.

A dependant can include, but is not limited to:

  • children aged 18 years and younger
  • elderly parents, and
  • anyone who lives with the applicant but does not have the means to support themselves and relies on the applicant for financial support.

Family violence

The term family violence has the same meaning as that is contained in section 5 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic).


For the purpose of determining whether an applicant is exempt from providing documentary proof of means, homelessness means either:

  • primary homelessness – the circumstances in which a person who does not have conventional accommodation, and may be living on the streets or sleeping in parks, squats, cars, makeshift dwellings or other temporary shelter such as sheds, tents, garages or cabins
  • secondary homelessness – the circumstances in which a person moves frequently between various forms of temporary shelter such as emergency accommodation, refuges, hostels, boarding houses, or staying with friends or relatives on a short-term basis.


A matter is the legal problem an applicant has that they are seeking a grant of legal assistance for. The grant pays for a lawyer to assist the applicant with their legal problem.


For the purposes of our means test, we will only ask for the financial information of an applicant’s partner where an applicant is:

  • married to the person, or
  • in a de facto partnership with that person (defined as being in a relationship and living with that person for six months or more).

For exceptions to this definition, refer to Exemptions.

Real property

Property that consists of land and/or buildings. This commonly includes houses, apartments, farms etc. This covers both the principle place of residence and any investment or other real estate property that a person has an interest in.

Remote area

As defined by the Australian Tax Office as 'at least 40 kms from an urban center with a population of 14,000 or more and at least 100 kms from an urban center with a population of 130,000 or more'. A complete list of towns defined as remote can be found on the Australian Tax Office website.

Spousal maintenance

Financial support paid by one partner in a marriage or de facto relationship to the other partner after the relationship has broken down, in circumstances where the former partner cannot adequately support themselves. An order for spousal maintenance or de facto partner maintenance can be made under s. 74 or s. 90SE of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Unpreserved superannuation

Superannuation that can be accessed without the person being penalised for using those funds.