The Community Legal Centres NSW Aboriginal Legal Access Program makes a significant contribution to access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW by:
- Embedding cultural safety into the framework of community legal centres;
- Improving the numbers of Aboriginal staff in the legal sector, and thereby strengthening community connections to civil and early intervention legal services;
- Role-modeling employment pathways and culturally appropriate settings for legal education;
- Delivering legal information and advice; and
- Developing and supporting relationships between community legal centres and local Aboriginal community controlled organisations and groups, including developing MOUs with the ALS and with Tranby College.
For further information, contact Zachary Armytage, Aboriginal Legal Access Program Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you need free legal help? Want to talk with a community organisation who is not part of government? Community legal centres are community-embedded organisations that can help with legal problems.
If you are an Aboriginal person in NSW looking for legal help, please see our Find legal help - for Aboriginal people page for further information.
A letter by Zachary Armytage, Aboriginal Legal Access Program Coordinator
In recent years, there has been significant growth in the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community legal sector across New South Wales. In 2011 there were 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in community legal centres in NSW. Today there are around 70 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in community legal centres in NSW.
Aboriginal people working in legal assistance conduct their practice in an extremely complex and difficult context. The law and the legal system are the strong-arm apparatuses of the State. Hence the adage, ‘It’s a court of law, not a court of justice’. The law/justice system is a categorically systemically racist system, largely designed to maintain the power imbalance inherent to the continuing colonial quest of British invasion upon unceded First Nations soil. The continuing result of this is the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people on every socio-economic indicator, like poverty, child removal rates, education outcomes, life expectancy, and incarceration rates.
Within this setting, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers advocate for the fundamental legal rights of their communities. Added to this is the issue of cultural safety in the workplace. The toll these, and other barriers, can on take on First Nations staff is substantial. Working in and for community is never a 9-5 job.
Community Legal Centres NSW and the legal assistance sector more broadly has a moral duty, and a duty as employers, to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to meet the systemic challenges inherent in their work.