Go to content

Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Aboriginal community partnerships

The Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) (NSW/ACT) Ltd is our key partner in delivering legal services to Aboriginal people in New South Wales.

The Aboriginal Services Branch is responsible for managing the relationship between Legal Aid NSW and the ALS.

Aboriginal Services Branch staff

The Aboriginal Services Branch staff at Yabun in 2018

We have a close working relationship with the ALS as our key partner in delivering high quality, culturally competent services to Aboriginal people and communities across the state, in accordance with our Statement of Commitment, which sets out our roles and responsibilities.

There are a number of initiatives within the ALS partnership.

Legal Aid NSW and the ALS work together to deliver criminal law reforms

In 2017–2018 we worked closely with the ALS to deliver extra services and support for Aboriginal clients affected by the criminal law reforms. Under the Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas Funding Agreement we provided funding to the ALS to employ six additional lawyers and three additional administrative staff in order for them to adequately service Aboriginal clients under the reforms in recognition of the fact that Aboriginal people would be disproportionally affected by the reforms. We also provided funding to the Aboriginal Legal Service to assist with the Driver Disqualification Reforms.

Legal Aid NSW and the ALS work to deliver cultural competency sessions

Our Aboriginal Cultural Competency Program is designed to equip practitioners with the skills and knowledge they need to better represent Aboriginal clients.

We partnered with the Aboriginal Legal Service to develop and implement the sessions including training programs for civil, family and criminal lawyers on trauma-informed practice, cultural dispossession, advocating for Aboriginal clients in sentencing proceedings and guardianship issues.

We continued implementing our locally-oriented Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Workshops in regional areas including Tamworth and Port Macquarie.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

We worked to address the legal needs of Aboriginal people in the North West of NSW by developing and implementing a new service strategy—targeting services to communities in Bourke, Cobar, Brewarrina, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Coonamble. The Legal Aid NSW Aboriginal Services Branch consulted widely with Aboriginal community members and organisations, local police and the local council in Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett and Coonamble which identified a need for quality legal representation in criminal law and more access to family and civil law services.

Under this strategy two new criminal lawyer positions were created along with new Community Liaison Positions (Aboriginal identified) in Bourke and Walgett.

OBJECTIVE Access to justice

The Legal Aid NSW Reconciliation Action Plan 2015–2018 has a number of strategies to address the changing legal needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across New South Wales.

Our two in-house Aboriginal Field Officers in Dubbo and Port Macquarie, and four ALS care and protection lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW, assisted local communities through a combination of community legal education, outreach programs and legal representation.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

While establishing our presence in North West NSW we partnered with Maranguka Community Hub to host a Community Liaison Officer within their office in Bourke. This ensures we continue our strong partnership with the community organisation and also places our services at the centre of the Bourke community.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

In 2017–2018 we commenced a partnership with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) to employ two adult trainees at our Tamworth and Lismore offices. The AES is a non-government, Aboriginal community organisation and managed employment services provider which began in Moree and has since expanded across New South Wales.

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

The Stolen Generation Reparations Scheme and Funeral Assistance Fund opened on 1 July 2017. To assist survivors, Legal Aid NSW and the Law Society NSW established the Stolen Generation Wills Initiative to help Stolen Generation survivors who make a claim for reparations to get a will for free or for a substantially reduced fee. More information about the work we have done with stolen generations survivors (See Access to justice for the stolen generations).

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Holistically manage the ALS working relationship through our new Aboriginal Client Services Strategy and Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy, both of which will be implemented over the life of the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018–2023.