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​Aboriginal Legal Service

Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited

We assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children through representation in court, advice and information, prisoner support while inside and when people are leaving prison, and referral to further support services. We have 24 offices and over 220 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff across NSW and ACT working towards achieving justice for Aboriginal people, the Koori way.

We are a proudly Aboriginal organisation that is community focused and we acknowledge and respect our traditional values and cultural practices. Since opening our doors in 1970 in Redfern, we have acknowledged the importance of Aboriginal people designing and delivering services to our own communities. Every day, we continue to fight for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in NSW and the ACT.

Criminal Law

ALS assists Aboriginal men, women, young people and children who have come into contact with the police, the courts, youth detention or incarceration. We help people who are charged with offences appearing before the Local Court, Children's Court, District Court, Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeal and sometimes even the High Court.

For more information about our criminal law service, visit our website here.

Care and Protection Service/Family Law 

ALS helps Aboriginal women, men, parents and grandparents, uncles, aunties and children with child protection issues. We want our children that have been taken away to be housed in a safe and culturally appropriate place. We fight for the best possible outcome for children, parents, families and community. 

Care and Protection matters normally involve the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. We may be able to help you if a care application has been made, a child was removed a long time ago, you want to change an order made by the court, you need help deciding whether you can fight a matter or not, or if your family needs a support plan.

Family Law matters usually involve the breakdown of a relationship and the parties to that relationship not agreeing to contact and with whom and where the children will live.

For more information about our care & protection/family law service, visit our website here.

Custody Notification Service

ALS is concerned that Aboriginal peoples' fundamental rights are respected when they are taken into custody. The ALS Custody Notification Service is an open phone line staffed by an ALS lawyer 24 hours per day, every day of the year. By law, the police must notify the ALS whenever an Aboriginal person is arrested due to suspicion of committing an offence or after being taken into protective custody due to intoxication. An ALS lawyer will speak with the Aboriginal person in custody, give legal advice, and check they're OK.

Field Officers

ALS Field Officers provide people with immediate access to information and assistance. Criminal Law Field Officers assist lawyers talk to Aboriginal clients and their families.Care and Protection Field Officers work closely with victims of family violence, pre-and post-release prisoners, and with families who have had their children taken away from them.

Field Officers arrange for referral in appropriate cases to service providers, and they provide legal and social justice education in the community.

Other areas of law

ALS lawyers can provide legal advice or referral for civil law issues including credit and debt, discrimination and tenancy matters.

The ALS has two tenant advocacy services. Western Aboriginal Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service (WATAAS) provides advocacy and services in the Central West, North West and Far West areas of NSW. In addition, the Greater Sydney Tenants Advice Service (GSATS) covers Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hawkesbury and Macarthur areas.

These services are specialist Aboriginal Services which help Aboriginal people who are having difficulties in the relationship with landlords and social housing providers. The services can assist with letters of support, telephone advice, attending the tribunal (NCAT), mediation and advocacy, repairs and maintenance issues, Housing Appeals Committee applications and negotiating with landlords.

We also have Civil Law clinics operating from several offices run by Legal Aid NSW.

Law Reform

The ALS advocates for protection of the rights of Aboriginal people, in particular coronial reform and other advances in the criminal justice system.

Volunteer Program

Our Volunteer Program allows university students or graduates to be involved in research, law reform, human resources, campaigns, communications and IT. We also have a placement program for volunteers to complete their Practical Legal Training through work in our criminal law, care & protection and family law practice areas.

Just Reinvest NSW

Just Reinvest began in 2011 as a strategic initiative of the ALS. It is not just a 'program', but a way of working that is led by the community, informed by data and based on strategies that address issues at a local level. The aim of justice reinvestment is to redirect funding away from prisons and into communities that have high rates of contact with the criminal justice system. One area of focus is to introduce 'circuit breakers' that disrupt known pathways to prison, such as providing drivers licence training to reduce traffic offences.

Just Reinvest NSW has collaborated with the Bourke community to establish the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project. This provides a model of Indigenous self-governance which empowers community to reduce high levels of crime and social disadvantage through services which are Aboriginal community owned and led, as well as through a multidisciplinary team working in partnership with relevant government and non-government agencies.

For more information about Just Reinvest NSW, visit the website here.