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Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP)

Background:

At the request of the Public Purpose Fund (PPF), Legal Aid NSW took over administration of the ALAP from Community Legal Centres New South Wales (CLCNSW) in 2010 and introduced stable funding for five Aboriginal Legal Access Officer positions at Hawkesbury Nepean CLC, Illawarra LC, Macarthur LC, Northern Rivers CLC and Shoalcoast CLC, plus a co-ordination and capacity building role at CLCNSW (i.e. Zachary Armytage's role). The funding is administered by the Legal Aid NSW CLC Program under the Community Legal Services Program (CLSP) Service Agreements with respective Centres.

In light of the financial constraints on the PPF, funding for the ALAP program has reduced in recent years with the 2015-16 allocation for this program being $270,000. However, Legal Aid NSW has used some NPA Commonwealth funding to increase the 2015-16 ALAP allocation to a total of $370,000 i.e. a top-up for each of the five Centres and for Zachary's role at CLCNSW.

Benefits:

The Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP) develops and maintains links with Aboriginal communities and improves legal service delivery by CLCs for Aboriginal people. The employment of these part-time Aboriginal Legal Access Officers had an immediate effect on service delivery with an 82% increase in the number of Aboriginal clients assisted by these CLCs.

The importance of the Aboriginal Legal Access Program is twofold:

  • ALAP Workers:

    Funding enables the five ALAP funded Centres to recruit dedicated Aboriginal workers in these CLCs to facilitate culturally appropriate services and build lasting relationships between the CLC and Aboriginal Communities within its catchment. These workers play an integral role in community engagement, liaison and in creating a bridge between CLCs and their local Indigenous communities. The success in doing this is evidenced by increased awareness of and access to services by Aboriginal community members since the establishment of ALAP.

  • ALAP Co-ordinator at CLCNSW:

    This position provides the five funded ALAP Centres with a point of leadership, expertise, coordination and acts in an advisory capacity to the ALAP Workers both individually and as a group. Moreover, the position remains pivotal in maintaining a focus on Aboriginal legal access issues across the broader NSW CLC network, providing a linkage across the CLC sector and the broader justice community in relation to Aboriginal service delivery strategies. This has been evidenced by the work that the Aboriginal Co-ordinator at CLCNSW is doing in relation to embedding Aboriginal Cultural Competency Training within NSW CLCs and with respect to supporting objectives of the new Aboriginal Cultural Safety Standard including supporting CLCs developing Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs).

For more information please contact Mia Zahra, Program Manager.