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NLAF Working Group on Aboriginal Clients

Report - 20 February 2009

The Working Group has not met since the last NLAF Plenary Meeting, although a sub-Working Group on the on the Evaluation and updating of the Guide to Legal Services for Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT has met several times during the period 26 November 2008 to 20 February 2009

The Working Group has been engaged in the following projects.

Access to Civil Law for Aboriginal Clients – Civil Law Access Project Pilot

The major focus of the Working Group is to address unmet need for access to Civil Law services for Aboriginal people. Towards this, the Group’s principal task has been the development and implementation of a Pilot Project in the Northern Rivers region. A sub-Working Group has met regularly during 2008 to develop this Pilot Project.

Progress on the Pilot, together with a proposed variation and modification, were outlined to the NLAF Plenary on 26 November 2008. As noted in the report to that NLAF Plenary Meeting, further steps on the project are:

  • preparation of the report on civil and family law needs in the Northern Rivers region which will be circulated to NLAF members and agencies in the local area
  • identification of existing resources and services which meet the identified needs
  • identification of gaps
  • further consultation with the local community to determine an appropriate strategy to meet these gaps
  • finalising the project manager’s journal and lessons learned

The Working Group will meet on 17 March 2009. The agenda will include the tabling of both a Findings document and Project Managers Journal. These two documents will be used as a basis for re-engaging with communities in the Northern Rivers to establish their priority issue and the best resource that can be provided to address that issue as well as assessing the effectiveness of the process that was undertaken to achieve this outcome. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by mid May 2009 with reporting to the NLAF Plenary Meeting on 27 May 2009.

Evaluation of the Guide to Legal Services for Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT

The Evaluation of the Guide to Legal Services for Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT (‘Guide’) has now been printed with the assistance of a grant from the Law and Justice Foundation and the assistance of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council (AJAC). Distribution has commenced through AJAC. It is also to be published on the NLAF web site.

Updated edition of the Guide to Legal Services for Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT

As noted in the Report to the NLAF Plenary Meeting on 26 November, further to the evaluation’s recommendations and other feedback regarding the Guide, a sub-working group has been meeting to develop an updated and slightly streamlined edition of the Guide. This will be published in an electronic format on the ALS website together with another version with a search engine facility to enable referrer’s service providers and members of the public to quickly find the service(s) they are looking for. Print copies of the updated Guide or sections of it will still be made available upon request.

As requested by the NLAF Plenary (at its meeting of 27 August), the development and publication of this new version of the Guide will be project managed by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited.

Family Violence and Trauma in Aboriginal Communities

Further to earlier meetings, the Working Group has agreed that although no immediate task or project has been identified to address this set of issues, it should remain on the Working Group’s agenda, allowing the possibility of identifying priorities and tasks in early 2009.

Raymond Brazil, Convenor