20 November 2020
The Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited (‘ALS’) has today expressed disappointment at the NSW Budget’s lack of investment in the Aboriginal community-controlled sector and the critical services that Aboriginal people need to thrive.
The 2020-21 Budget includes a $20 million commitment to support the National Agreement on Closing the Gap over the next four years.
ALS CEO Karly Warner said, “Whilst this initial investment in Closing the Gap is welcome, we know that a much more ambitious investment is required if we are going to see meaningful change. It is critical that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are adequately resourced to develop, drive and implement key reforms.
“If the NSW Government is serious about progress towards targets, they need to invest in community-led initiatives to end postcode injustice, divert Aboriginal people away from the quicksand of the out-of-home care and criminal legal systems, and keep Aboriginal kids, women and men connected to family, community and culture.”
Despite continued community calls, the NSW Budget fails to commit funding to address the unmet legal needs of Aboriginal people or to adequately invest in community-led early intervention, prevention and diversion initiatives.
“We're also deeply concerned that this Budget increases investment in police, whilst ignoring calls for the urgent establishment of a Walama court - a culturally-specific court aimed at diverting Aboriginal people away from the criminal legal system - and other critical Aboriginal-led initiatives. This status-quo approach will not achieve improved outcomes for our people,” said Ms Warner.
“Whilst we strongly welcome a commitment to establish a new rehabilitation service in Dubbo, the Budget was a missed opportunity to invest in the establishment of a Drug Court in the region and act on the other important recommendations from the recent Special Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’.”
Media Contact: Shannon Longhurst – 0427 346 017 / firstname.lastname@example.org