15 May 2023
We have been forced to freeze criminal law services at 13 Local Courts across NSW due to a workload crisis caused by inadequate government funding.
Beginning from Monday 15 May 2023, the ALS is unable to act for people facing new criminal charges at the following Local Courts:
- Byron Bay
- Moss Vale
- West Wyalong
The ALS has contacted all current clients with criminal law matters in these courts.
If you have a new criminal charge in one of these courts after today, please call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 for legal help.
If you are unable to access support through LawAccess NSW, please contact your nearest ALS office or call us on 1800 765 767. We will not be able to represent you in court, but we may be able to help refer you onto another legal provider.
Why is the ALS freezing some services?
Demand for our services has almost doubled since 2018 but our core Federal Government funding has decreased in real terms. This means we are being pushed harder than ever before.
We are dedicated to maintaining high quality, culturally safe legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people expect and deserve.
This is only possible when we prioritise the physical and mental health of our teams so they can do their best work for community. Right now our teams are stretched and without an emergency support package from government, we are unable to continue the fight for community at the current pace.
How long will the freeze last?
This is really up to government. We are not freezing services as a tactic - we are doing it because we have no other choice. Our hope is that government comes through with the crisis funding we need, and these service freezes are minimal and temporary.
While we welcome a recent $21 million government funding increase, it's simply not enough. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services across Australia are all facing the same workload crisis, and together, we requested a $250 million emergency support package from the government in order to prevent or reverse freezes to our services.
I am an ALS client. Does this service freeze affect my case?
At this time, the ALS is only freezing criminal law services in the 13 Local Courts listed above. If you are being represented by the ALS in another court, this service freeze does not currently affect you.
We are not freezing any child protection or family law services at this time. If you have a family law or care and protection matter being heard in one of the courts listed above, it is still going ahead as planned.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call your local ALS office and ask to speak with your solicitor.