Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)


We give FREE legal advice

We stand up for people in court 

We assist with family and child protection matters


Phone Criminal Law Practice

1800 765 767 or02 8303 6600 

for advice on dealing with police, courts, crime or custody


Phone Care and Protection Law Practice and Family Law Practice

1800 733 233 or 02 8836 3444

for advice on preventing kids being taken, getting your children back, FaCS, DocCS, divorce, separating from your partner, worries about kids. 


ALS can give general advice about problems affecting you

Some problems are legal, others are not. Housing, money, fines, debt, transport, family, health and funerals - there are so many problems to deal with. Our Administration officers and Field officers can help you. Contact us


Legal information is free through these services

Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) gives free legal advice and information. Call 1800 765 767 for crime matters, and Call 1800 733 233 for Children's Care and Protection matters.

Law Access NSW give free legal information and legal advice on all sorts of problems. Call 1300 888 529

Legal Aid ACT gives free legal advice over the phone. Call 1300 654 314 or 0429 440 084 (after hours).

Legal Aid NSW gives free legal help over the phone. Call 02 9219 5000, or call the Youth Hotline 1800 10 18 10 or the Child Support Service 1800 451 784.


You have rights

Every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person has legal rights, the same as everyone else. Want to know more about your rights? Contact us


When is my court date?

Please look at the Court lists. They are on this website under NEED HELP - GOING TO COURT. The Court lists will say when your court date is.

What do I do if Police have mistreated me?

Please phone the Ombudsman on 02 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524. Your complaint about the police might be about abusive behaviour, use of threats or harassment, failure to take appropriate action in circumstances of domestic violence, excessive or unnecessary use of force, unlawful or unreasonable arrest, bias or mistreatment by police, use of unfair or improper interrogation, failure or delay in providing legal rights, inappropriate release of confidential information, or criminal conduct. You can also take your complaint to the commander at your local area command or to the Commissioner of Police. Police at your local area command should help you to make your complaint.

How do I prove that I am Aboriginal?

The definition of an Aboriginal person, as defined by the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, is a person who: •is of Aboriginal descent. •identifies as an Aboriginal person, and •is accepted by the Aboriginal community in which he/she lives. To prove you are Aboriginal, you may request a letter from your local Aboriginal Land Council. When a person seeks to become a member of a LALC, the members of a LALC must be satisfied that the person is in fact Aboriginal and must make a resolution to accept the person as a member before a LALC Chief Executive Officer can enter their name on a membership roll. When a LALC is satisfied that a person is Aboriginal and then proceeds to join the LALC they can then write a letter of confirmation for that person, confirming their Aboriginality.

If I am arrested, what can I do?

Stay calm, stay cool, stay deadly. Give your name and address only. Don't make a statement - you don't have to. You have the right to remain silent. Ask the Police to ring the ALS. The lawyer at the ALS will tell you what to do next.

What if I fail to report to police if I am on bail?

Report to Police as soon as you can. Ring them or visit a police station. If you do not report to Police they will put a warrent out for your arrest.

What is an AVO?

It is a restraining order. It is done to stop a person being violent towards you, by ordering them to stay away from you. If you have received an AVO, you must stay away from the person who obtained it.

What is a curfew? What happens if I breach a curfew?

A curfew is a condition that can be placed on a person while on bail. It restricts behaviour.

Is it better to pay for a lawyer? Do you get off if you pay?

ALS lawyers are very professional and committed to getting the best outcome possible for Aboriginal people in and outside the courtroom. Every person deserves legal representation and ALS provides that. A person has to decide if they are pleading guilty or not guilty. Whatever their plea, ALS lawyers will fight to get the person the best possible outcome. Some people choose to pay for a private law firm to represent them. It does not guarantee a better outcome. It is a matter of choice for the person in need of legal services.

Are you legal aid?

ALS provides free and means-tested legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Criminal law and Child Care and Protection Law matters. We are not Legal Aid NSW.

Does Aboriginal Legal Service do Family Law, Civil law or Administrative Law?

Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) assists Aboriginal people in two areas of law - Criminal law and Children's Care and Protection. We can give information to people who have legal issues in other areas of law. We can also refer to people to another legal firm.

Are you a government department?

No, we are not. We are a non-government community organisation. We are also a Public Benevolent Institution.

Are your lawyers professional?

Yes they are. Our lawyers are some of the best in the business. They are professional and committed to social justice and giving everyone the right to good representation, no matter where they're from and why they need to see a lawyer. It is the right of every Australian to have legal representation. That's what we provide, proudly.

What is the Serious Disruption to Community Policy?

ALS represents people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. We only provide assistance in matters which fall within Criminal law or Children's Care and Protection Law, as these are the two areas of law that we can practice in. And we only represent people if our assistance to a person will not cause 'extra' problems in the local community where the problem started. If there is a concern that this might be the case, ALS Zone Manager’s will conduct an investigation. They may conclude there is no problem for the ALS to represent a person. Or, they may conclude there is the 'potential for serious disruption' if the ALS represents that person. If the 'potential for serious disruption' has been identified, ALS will provide appropriate assistance to the person needing our help. This may include referral to another legal service provider.

How good are ALS lawyers?

Judge Paul Conlon, Wollongong District Court, said about 90 per cent of the public defenders he had worked with in Supreme Court matters were from the ALS and Legal Aid. “If you really got into that sort of trouble, facing those sorts of crimes, those lawyers from [ALS] and the public defenders, you could not get any better representation than that,” he said. ‘[ALS is] full of not only professional and experienced lawyers, but lawyers who are dedicated to what they do.”

Is Aboriginal Legal Service the same as Legal Aid NSW?

Aboriginal Legal Service is an Aboriginal organisation and a community organisation. ALS provides free and means-tested legal services only to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW and ACT. Legal Aid NSW is operated by the NSW Government. They provide means-tested legal services to the general community.

Why can’t ALS make the Government change the laws?

ALS is a community organisation. Our focus is to give legal representation and advice to Aboriginal people in NSW and ACT. We do talk to State, Territory and Federal Governments when matters of law and/or policy are adversely affecting Aboriginal people.