April 26 2019
Peak body Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has welcomed a pledge from the Federal Opposition to overturn a Budget decision to scrap the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program (ILAP) and mainstream funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) into a national mechanism.
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Senator Patrick Dodson, have announced an additional $107 million to tackle Australia’s alarming rates of Aboriginal incarceration, including
$40 million (over four years) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS).
The ALP also pledged to create Justice Targets under the Closing the Gap framework; $21.75 million in funding to extend the successful Justice Reinvestment project: working with State and Territory Governments to sustain Koori Courts and mediation forums and $60 million in funding for a Community Prevention and Frontline Service Grants program to combat domestic violence.
Welcoming the ALP announcement, the A/CEO of the ALS, Janelle Clarke, said retaining the ILAP was crucial in allowing the ALS to continue providing Aboriginal people with safe, culturally-appropriate legal services in NSW and the ACT.
“The ALS is pleased the ALP has committed to improving access to justice for Aboriginal people and importantly, tackling alarming incarceration rates across our communities, upholding the principle that prison should only be an option of last resort,” Ms Clarke said today.
“The ALP has listened and acted on our concerns about the ILAP being abolished and ATSILS funding streamlined into a central mechanism. It is imperative that funding be directed to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, such as the ALS, which can deliver safe, culturally-appropriate legal services for Aboriginal people and their families in NSW and the ACT.
“The ALS also welcomes funding for the extension of the Justice Reinvestment project; Koori Courts and a focus on combatting violence against women in our communities, all initiatives which will help address Aboriginal incarceration.”