Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)

ALS News

Legal fraternity to meet Aboriginal elders

12 Jun 2013

Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Canberra office has moved buildings and is celebrating with an official office opening on Wednesday 12 June 2013.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell is joining ALS CEO Phil Naden, ACT Chief Justice Terrence Higgins, ACT Magistrate Bernadette Boss, NSW Magistrate Chris Bone, ALS Board Members Uncle Ted Fernando and Antionette House, Elder Agnes Shea, Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body Rod Little, and representatives from the ACT legal industry at the new office of ALS Canberra on 12 June 2013 at 5.30pm at Suite 2, Level 3, 17-21 University Avenue Canberra.

Welcome to Country will be given by Elder Auntie Matilda House who was an inaugural Board Member of the ALS.

Following its initial establishment in Redfern in 1970, ALS satellite offices were quickly established incorporating the ACT, the first of which was in Cowra NSW. ALS Lawyers travelled a wide court circuit from Cowra to Yass, Queanbeyan to Canberra for many years.

In 1985 an ALS office was established in Queanbeyan NSW next to the Leagues Club and furnished using borrowed equipment. The first Field Officer Arnold Williams and the first Administration officer Louise Brown are both still living in the Queanbeyan region.

In the early years of the ALS Queanbeyan office the work was mostly concentrated in Queanbeyan, Yass and Goulburn. Solicitor James Jeffery, employed at that time in the Queanbeyan office and currently working from ALS Redfern, says one Solicitor was more than sufficient for the very low numbers of indigenous people in the court system in the ACT.

Today, the ALS Canberra office has three full-time criminal law solicitors, one field officer, one administration officer, a Prisoner ThroughCare Manager, and two practical legal training volunteers at any one time.

Family law and Care and Protection law matters are referred to other offices in the ALS at present until a vacant solicitor position is filled, and civil law and other issues are generally referred to ACT Legal Aid.

Operationally, ALS Canberra lawyers appear one day per week in NSW courts including in Goulburn, Queanbeyan, Yass and Cooma, while the rest of their working week is reserved for the ACT Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court. ALS Canberra advises and represents up to forty people each week in and outside the courtroom.


Photo: Antionette House, ALS Board Member


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