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Annual Report 2020 - 2021

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients

Establishment of an Aboriginal services working group

The Aboriginal services working group was established this year to continue the implementation of the Aboriginal Client Services Strategy 2019–2023.

The working group focuses on increasing services to Aboriginal clients by at least five percent, as well as commencing the development of an Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework.

The group is chaired by the Aboriginal Services Branch manager, with representatives from each practice area and seven members of the Aboriginal staff network. The group meets on a quarterly basis.

Training for staff on our Best practice standards for representing Aboriginal clients

Following the launch of our best practice standards last year, this year we provided webinars to staff on specific elements of the standards.

We held a criminal law webinar on communicating with Aboriginal clients in a criminal justice setting, and a webinar for family lawyers that focused on the operation of the Indigenous List in the Family Court of Australia (now Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia).

Both webinars were delivered by highly respected academics, practitioners, and members of the Aboriginal community to a record number of participants for Aboriginal-specific training, with over 100 staff registering for each of the sessions. This allowed us to educate staff and increase their capacity to deliver high-quality, culturally informed representation of Aboriginal clients.

Story iconHolistic support for a young Aboriginal client

Derrick* was referred to the Youth Koori Court when he was 18 years old. He had a history of abuse and had been in statutory out-of-home care since he was 11 years old. Derrick disengaged from school early, had been regularly involved with the criminal justice system, and struggled with alcohol and drug misuse. He had a child with a former partner.

The Legal Aid NSW Children’s Civil Law Service (CCLS) assisted Derrick with a range of socio-legal issues for two years. His lawyer successfully applied for a write-off of over $3,000 in fines, obtained and advised Derrick on his leaving care plan, organised for funds to be deposited into his prison bank account, made a complaint to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission about excessive use of force used in an arrest, assisted Derrick to recover personal property held by NSW Police following his arrest, and referred him to a Legal Aid NSW family lawyer for advice on visitation and custody rights in relation to his child.

A CCLS youth caseworker supported Derrick with advocacy for housing upon his release from custody, gave him a referral to a specialist aftercare service, and made enquiries about availability of medication and other mental health support in custody.

*name changed

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will deliver our objectives under the Legal Aid NSW Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2021–2022.
  • We will develop and implement an Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for Legal Aid NSW.
  • We will continue to increase the services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities by five percent across our practice areas.
  • We will undertake a range of initiatives to deliver services that are responsive to the needs of diverse clients, such as:
    • improving training on working with interpreters and translators, and
    • developing and implementing initiatives to respond to the findings of the 2021 Client Satisfaction Survey.