Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)


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The Custody Notification Service (CNS) was to be unfunded as of 30 June 2015. 

The Australian government has funded the Custody Notification Service through one-off annual grants since 2008.

Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) asked the general community for support in gaining further grant funding from the Australian government to continue the CNS.

Nearly 50,000 people signed a petition to the Australian government asking for ongoing funding of the CNS.

On 30 June 2015 Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) secured six months further funding for the Custody Notification Service (CNS) from the Australian government Attorney-General’s department.

We understand the Australian government is asking the NSW government to fund the additional six months however we have received no formal notification this will actually occur.





What you can do to save the CNS   


>>>  SIGN OUR PETITION to #savetheCNS





  • Facts you can tell the Minister or Senator 

    Please fund the Custody Notification Service (CNS) because:

    • CNS works - it saves lives.
    • Innocent or guilty, no one should die in a police station.
    • There have been no Aboriginal deaths in police cell custody in NSW and ACT since the CNS began.
    • NSW police look after people in custody better because of the CNS.
    • Economically the CNS a no-brainer! At the cost of holding two juveniles in detention for one year, the CNS assists over 15 000 Aboriginal men, women and children each year.
    • CNS provides fair and equitable access to justice, reducing court and corrections costs down the line, and reducing costs to the taxpayer.
    • Aboriginal incarceration rates are already too high. They will increase if there's no CNS.
    • CNS is one of the few recommendations implemented from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. And it works






  • What's your CNS story?
  • Post it on Facebook and tag Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)
  • Tweet it using ‚Ä™#‎savetheCNS‚Ĩ
  • Email your Local Member, the PM and the Senator





  • It costs $526,000 a year to operate the CNS legal advice and RU OK phone line. If you can help, please donate to the CNS. Thank you.





What the media are saying

Custody Notification Service gets last-minute funding The Daily Examiner 2 July 2015

NSW Indigenous custody notification service gets federal funding lifeline The Guardian 1 July 2015

Nigel Scullion vows to continue funding for phone line connecting Aboriginal people in custody to lawyers ABC 1 July 2015

The fight to save phone line helping prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody SMH 1 July 2015

Custody calls should be national: Scullion AAP 1 July 2015

End looms for 'life-saving' hotline in NSW AAP 1 July 2015

Funding Cuts To Custody Notification Service Could See Deaths In Custody BuzzFeed 29 June 2015



Tongue-in-cheek tv with Charlie Pickering Sunshine Coast Daily 29 June 2015

Lobbying ramps up to save Aboriginal Legal Service phone line ABC 25 June 2015

0730 ABC New England North West News ABC 25 June 2015

Funding needed for Custody Notification Service SBS 25 June 2015

Funding fears for vital lifeline to Indigenous detainees Canberra Times 24 June 2015

Custody phone service saves lives CPA 24 June 2015

“As a nation, we should be unified in an unwavering commitment to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody” Crikey 22 June 2015

Life-saving custody notification facing closure Red Flag 22 June 2015

Cutting the Aboriginal custody helpline The Saturday Paper 20 June 2015

Justice for Eddie Murray Green Left Weekly 20 June 2015

Custody Notification Service assisting Indigenous prisoners faces closure ABC Radio National 17 June 2015

#JustJustice: Campaign to save the NSW Custody Notification Service: ‘lifeline’ for Indigenous people in custody Crikey 16 June 2015



Custody Notification Services to cease June 30 SBS 15 June 2015

How Malevolent Buffoonery Became The New Normal Of Australian Leadership Junkee 11 June 2015

Government Funding Cut For Aboriginal Legal Service Hotline, But Notification Still Legally Required TimeBase 11 June 2015

NSW ditches another protection for Indigenous people in custody The Conversation 10 June 2015

Indigenous custody phone line cut SYN Panorama Radio 7 June 2015

Save the CNS 2SER 5 June 2015

Fears of an end to Custody Notification Service NIRS 5 June 2015

PM unaware vital Aboriginal legal service is about to lose Commonwealth funding NITV 5 June 2015

PM unaware vital Aboriginal legal service is about to lose Commonwealth funding SBS News 4 June 2015

Indigenous legal aid hotline under threat The Wire 4 June 2015



Gather around young and old. It's time for Australia's favourite holiday- First Dog on the Moon The Guardian 4 June 2015

Funding threat to 24-hour phone line connecting Aboriginal people in custody to legal adviser ABC News 3 June 2015

Hotline credited with reducing Aboriginal deaths in custody loses Government funding ABC PM 3 June 2015



Indigenous incarceration and saving the CNS The Weekly 3 June 2015

Custody Notification Service funding threat ABC News 3 June 2015

Custody Notification Service prevents Aboriginal deaths in police cell custody The Stringer 3 June 2015



Premier Barnett, you promised – In the name of Ms Dhu, where are the Custody Notification Service & the end to jailing fine defaulters? The Stringer 3 June 2015

Anti-Deaths In Custody Service Could Disappear After Federal Funding Cut New Matilda 29 May 2015


Why we need the Custody Notification Service

CNS Information Kit  | CNS Fact Sheet  |  CNS Quick Overview  | How we're funded 

In December 2014 we applied for funding for the Custody Notification Service (CNS) from the government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) funding round, but were not accepted. The Australian government Attorney-General’s department is funding the CNS until 30 June 2015 through a one-off grant. 

Each year 15,000 Aboriginal people are asked RU OK and assisted through the phone line. Aboriginal incarceration rates are already shocking; without the phone line and early legal advice they will increase.

Please help us assist vulnerable Aboriginal people in police custody with access to early legal advice and a well check through our 24-hour legal advice and RU OK phone line.

The phone line costs nearly the same to operate as holding two juveniles in detention for one year - $526,000 per annum.

The ALS is urgently calling on the Australian government to fund this essential service. Aboriginal incarceration rates are already too high. It is likely they will increase if the CNS is not operating. 

It's more than just a phone line, it's a lifeline.

Further media and research reports on Deaths in Custody can be accessed here.



Supporters of the CNS

Nearly 50,000 people who have signed a petition to #savetheCNS

Senator Nigel Scullion, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs

NSW Attorney General, Gabrielle Upton

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties 

NSW Bar Association

NSW Law Society

Hepatitis NSW

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of Western Australia 

The Human Rights Alliance 

Muru Marri, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of NSW

The Stringer 

Gerry Georgatos - Suicide Prevention Researcher

Marcia Langton, Academic (via Twitter)

IndigenousX (via Twitter)

Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie, NSW Police (two years ago)

Tom Calma, former Social Justice Commissioner (two years ago)

NSW Ombudsman (two years ago)

NSW Aboriginal Land Council (two years ago)

Link Up NSW (two years ago)

NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (two years ago)

NSW Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (two years ago)

NSW Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care Secretariat (two years ago)

Robert Tickner, Australian Red Cross (two years ago)

Want to add your name or organisation to this list? Contact us.



Help fund the CNS


It costs $526,000 a year to operate the CNS legal advice and RU OK phone line. If you can help, please donate to the CNS. Thank you.



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