ATSILS COAG Meeting

ATSILS Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

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ATSILS Chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

On behalf of my fellow Directors, the Chief Executive Officer and Staff, I am pleased to present ATSILS Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020. The Strategic Plan sets out a concise framework that highlights the four strategic objectives that focuses on our clients, our stakeholders, our people and our resources. The Plan provides a roadmap to ensure ATSILS can fulfil the organisation’s vision of continuing to lead in the delivery of innovative and professional legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Queensland.

I would like to acknowledge the important influence that our communities and our stakeholders have had on the development of this plan. Understanding the needs of our communities is essential to continuously improving our delivery of legal services. Through an active community and sector engagement approach we continue to foster collaborative community and service partnerships that enhance our knowledge of local issues and respond to the diverse needs of our clients in the context of their communities.

A well-established governance and leadership platform has been crucial to setting an informed strategic direction that can effectively respond to the broad justice needs of the communities we service. Our board is reflective of the diversity of our communities across the state, this representation gives our communities a stronger voice that speaks directly through our leadership. We embrace ethical, accountable and transparent management and decision-making systems, policies, practices and procedures in all that we do and our board structure is built on a critical mix of skills and experience drawn from grass roots communities, non-government, government and the private sector.

This strong leadership platform sets our mission; however, it is our dedicated staff that work tirelessly day in day out to achieve it. Continuing to develop a highly skilled workforce committed to successfully achieving our strategic objectives and meeting the needs of clients is a core element of our strategic plan. We are extremely proud of the diverse 200+ strong workforce we have delivering our quality brand of legal services, community legal education, and early intervention and prevention services that uphold and advance the legal and human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Our services are delivered in accordance with the Australian Government’s Indigenous Legal Assistance Program under which we are funded through the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department. With incarceration rates continuing to soar and our people still remaining chronically disadvantaged and over-represented across all the child protection, youth justice and the criminal justice systems, this funding is vital now more than ever. I take this opportunity on behalf of all at ATSILS to thank the Attorney General and his Department in this regard. Further, in relation to our Prisoner Throughcare Program initiatives – justice reinvestment in action – we thank the Office of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for its crucial funding support as well.

I also acknowledge the importance and significance of our collaborative arrangements with other key stakeholders in the justice system particularly the assistance provided to us by the Legal Aid Queensland in terms of off-setting some of the very high costs associated with delivering crucial services in our State’s most remote regions.

I encourage our communities and relevant government and non-government partners to embrace this Plan and work with us on its successful implementation.

Download Strategic Plan

Download Media Release

Ken Georgetown
CHAIRPERSON
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd.

 

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ATSILS COAG Meeting

ATSILS calls for Government to act on ALRC recommendations to tackle soaring incarceration rates.

ALRC_March2018The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd welcomes the report and recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s ‘Pathways to Justice – Inquiry into Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ tabled in Parliament today.

ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy said, “This report is yet another validation of the extreme disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face day to day when coming in contact with the justice system and presents clear, evidence based solutions that can address the disproportionate rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated.”

“The recommendations handed down in this report provides yet another opportunity for all levels of government to turn their rhetoric into action and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to implement real change and create safer communities” said Mr Duffy.

“Back in 1991 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody also found that an unfair and discriminatory justice system was failing our people and fuelling over-incarceration. It offered comprehensive solutions that could affect change through its 339 recommendations, but these were left on the shelf largely ignored and unimplemented by governments. Fast forward almost 3 decades later and here we are today grappling with an even more complex and rapidly growing problem so shameful the Federal Government has labelled it a ‘National Disgrace’. We can’t let this history of inaction continue to repeat and drop the ball on this again,” Mr Duffy said.

Research commissioned by ALRC shows the magnitude of the crisis we are dealing with today with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men found to be 14.7 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous men, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women found to be 21.2 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous women. Between 2006 and 2016 imprisonment rates have increased by 41%. The report noted that Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults make up around 2 per cent of the national population, they constitute 27 per cent of the national prison population.

As a matter of priority and in line with our national peak body (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services) we call on Governments to:

  • Implement a National Justice target as part of Close the Gap framework.
  • Promote justice reinvestment through redirection of resources from incarceration to prevention, rehabilitation and support, in order to reduce reoffending and the long-term economic cost of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Engage and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide basic universal services and adequately resource innovative community led solutions.
  • Abolish mandatory sentencing, which disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and increasing more culturally appropriate diversionary options and community-based alternatives.
  • Reform laws so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not sent to prison for minor offences such as offensive language or unpaid fines.
  • Fix bail and sentencing laws so that a person’s cultural experience can be taken into account.
  • Adequately resource and provide funding certainty to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Community Legal Centres and Legal Aid Commissions more broadly. Ensuring access to justice for vulnerable community groups fundamentally requires sufficient, sustainable and ongoing funding for legal assistance providers.
  • Enact mandatory Custody Notification Systems in partnership with every ATSILS.


Media Contact:
Josh Herd for Shane Duffy, CEO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service Qld, email josh.herd@atsils.org.au or phone 0439 561 775.

View/Print Media Release PDF:
https://bit.ly/2pL8g9Y

ATSILS COAG Meeting

Queensland Law Society Careers Expo 2018

ATSILS QLS Careers Expo 2018ATSILS recently took part in the 2018 QLS Careers Expo . Our exhibit attracted many interested students and it was great to give the next generation of legal practitioners an insight into our innovative brand of legal service delivery as an exciting career pathway.

There was much interest in general student and Practical Legal Training placements opportunities with ATSILS and we do welcome students to our workplaces across Queensland, usually within one of our Brisbane or Regional offices. Students studying law, justice, indigenous studies, advocacy, or a combination relevant to our Vision and Mission are encouraged to apply through our online link below:

http://www.atsils.org.au/student-placements/

 

ATSILS COAG Meeting

ATSILS ensuring access to justice across the Torres Strait

ATSILS Torres Strait Service DeliveryRecently our CEO and Communications team journeyed with our Thursday Island staff on their Outer Islands Magistrate Court Circuit throughout the Torres Strait. 

 

In one of the State’s most remote regions ATSILS is the primary legal assistance provider and we are committed to ensuring the diverse communities across the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area have access to professional legal assistance and representation. 

 

It was great to see the local team in action and spend time with communities on the Islands of Warraber, Boigu, Mabuiag, Saibai and Badu and get insight into the justice issues they face so we can continue to tune our services to respond to local need.

 

Our team operate from our regional office on Thursday Island and they are an exemplar of ATSILS innovative brand of service delivery, they are highly engaged with community and display a tireless commitment to people they represent under challenging conditions. They have established a respectful and collegiate working relationship with the Magistrate, Justice Groups, Police Prosecution, Community Police and other officers of the court and work as an effective team to enhance access to justice for some of Queensland’s most remote populations.

ATSILS COAG Meeting

Special Gathering Statement re: Closing the Gap Refresh – A joint initiative of COAG

COAG_2018ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy was invited to Canberra recently to attend A Special Gathering of prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders asked to provide advice to Government on a refreshed ‘Closing The Gap’ agenda. The gathering coincided with the first Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of 2018.

Shane was one of 64 State and Commonwealth delegates selected to come together to provide advice on future policy priorities, and how all governments can be held to account for driving change. A delegation from the Special Gathering then attended the COAG meeting to provide advice of the gathering directly to First Ministers.

The Special Gathering agreed the next phase of the Closing the Gap agenda must be guided by the principles of empowerment and self-determination as articulated in the 2008 Close the Gap Statement of Intent. The group demanded from government a community led, strength based strategy that enables us to move beyond surviving to thriving.

Priorities
The Gathering agreed that existing targets should be retained and critically reviewed, and that the following areas are of highest importance for setting additional future targets as part of this refresh:

– Families, children and youth
– Housing
– Justice, including youth justice
– Health
– Economic development
– Culture and language
– Education
– Healing
– Eliminating racism and systemic discrimination

We call on governments to negotiate specific targets in these areas with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our representative bodies.

Here is a link to the full statement from the group:

https://closingthegaprefresh.pmc.gov.au/news/special-gathering-statement 

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2018 – QUT Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program Students visit ATSILS

QUT 2018 Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program visit to ATSILS2018 Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program visit to ATSILS

Last week students from QUT’s 2018 Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program attended ATSILS Brisbane office to get first hand insight into the work we do advancing and protecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The students received a range of presentations covering on our innovative brand of legal service delivery, the critical role of our Court Support Officers in supporting the client/lawyer relationship and removing barriers affecting access to justice and also an overview of the work we do educating communities on their legal rights. The students were hosted by our Director of Communications and Sector Engagement – Graham, Early Intervention, Prevention and Community Legal Education Officer – Kate and Court Support Officer – Lesley. The students also had the opportunity to meet some of our legal practitioners and get insight into what it’s like working for a human rights based organisation like ATSILS.

Bianca Hill-Jarro – Indigenous Project Officer at QUT said “The visit to ATSILS has been welcomed addition to the program and offers something unique for the students. The students always really enjoy the visit and many are often interested in the career pathways offered by ATSILS.”

ATSILS is committed to inspiring the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers and justice professionals and it was great to host these deadly young students looking to pursue careers in the justice sector.

ATSILS COAG Meeting

Call for justice targets on 10th anniversary of Apology to Australia’s Stolen Generations

ATSILS supports the strong call by the Law Council of Australia to put Justice Targets back on the national agenda. Justice targets are vital to Closing the Gap & addressing the unacceptable incarceration rates of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples which is a national crisis.

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View full media release here:
https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/media/media-releases/call-for-justice-targets-on-10th-anniversary-of-apology-to-australias-indigenous-peoples

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10th Anniversary of ‘The Apology’ to the Stolen Generations

Apology10On the 10th Anniversary of ‘The Apology’ and every day we stand with the Stolen Generations and are committed to advancing and protecting their legal and human rights.

In the work we do, we see the ongoing impacts of such policies and we are particularly mindful of the challenges faced by many of our people dealing with the effects of inter-generational trauma.

We will continue to push hard for reform in laws, policies and practices that discriminate and adversely impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we call for more ACTION from all levels of government to assist the healing process in our communities.

Commemorating The Apology to Stolen Generations is an important part of history and is vital to the healing process, but the words and rhetoric must be backed up with more action.

It is a shameful indictment on policy makers that 10 years after the apology to the Stolen Generations, we’ve seen the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families double. Community controlled and led solutions must be designed and implemented to address this devastating trajectory tearing apart communities.

Join:
Family Matters – Strong communities, strong culture, stronger children.
http://bit.ly/2CglhNd

Learn More:
Recommendations: Bringing them home: The ‘Stolen Children’ report (1997) – http://bit.ly/1XUM8Wv

Learn more about the Stolen Generations and the Healing journey at Healing Foundation

#Apology10
Reconciliation Australia

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2017 Lisa Watson Memorial Award – Congratulations Julie

Julie_LisaWatsonMemorialCongratulations to Julie Corpe on being awarded the “Lisa Watson Memorial Award” at our annual staff awards recently. Julie is our amazing Finance Officer & WHS Advisor at ATSILS HQ always willing to go the extra mile in supporting staff to ensure our clients receive the highest quality of service. Julie said “Lisa was such a beautiful soul and to receive this award it’s just such an honour.”

The Lisa Watson Memorial Award is presented each year to the staff member who, like Lisa herself, best exemplifies our organisation’s core values of care, share and respect.

Lisa was known for the level of commitment, integrity and passion that she brought to her various roles and was exceedingly well respected by all who had the privilege to know her. Lisa’s legacy shines on through our staff with her passion for social justice, her people and dedication to our important work continuing to inspire staff like Julie who is a most fitting recipient of this honour.

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2017 Ricky Webke Memorial Award – Congratulations Rayna Smith

Rayna_RickyWebkeAwardCongratulations to Rayna (pictured right) for taking out the 2017 Ricky Webcke Memorial Award at the ATSILS Annual Staff Awards.

This Award is presented each year to our Organisation’s most outstanding Court Support or Field Officer. It bears the name of a truly remarkable man, the late and great Ricky Webke (known to some as George Appleton-Smith) – who was coincidentally, the inaugural recipient of this award when such were introduced on an annual basis in 2006.

Like Ricky, Rayna is a dedicated Court Support Officer, has performed her role with distinction and is passionate about doing her bit to enhance the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members who come in contact with the justice system.

Court Support Officers perform a vital role, they are the frontline of our culturally competent service delivery with strong connections to community. They are experienced in assisting clients navigate the justice system and enhance communication between our clients and legal practitioners.