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.

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: 


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.


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.


View full media release here:


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.

Family Matters – Strong communities, strong culture, stronger children.

Learn More:
Recommendations: Bringing them home: The ‘Stolen Children’ report (1997) –

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

Reconciliation Australia


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.


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.


Congratulations Tim Hishon – ATSTILS ‘2017 Regional Manager of the Year’

Tim Hishon - Sunshine Coast Regional ManagerDirector of Sector Engagement and Communications, Graham White presenting 2 plaques to Tim Hishon our Regional Manager on the Sunshine Coast. One recognises Tim’s dedicated long service to ATSILS over the past 15 years’ and the other was awarded to Tim to pay tribute to his excellence in team management and service delivery as the winner of the ATSILS ‘2017 Regional Manager of the Year’.

The Maroochydore Team nominated Tim for his respect towards clients and team members alike. Tim encourages all team members to actively participate and contribute to workplace culture. Tim is a flexible, responsive Manager who is genuine, humble and dedicated to the ATSILS core values of Care, Share and Respect.


Job Vacancies – 2 x Court Support Officer roles: Townsville & Southport

ATSILS Careers

We have 2 x Court Support Officer roles available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates in our Townsville and Southport offices.

Court Support Officers play a vital role in our service delivery and in the community. CSOs provide a crucial link between our clients and the legal practitioner and enhance access to justice in their communities.

Applications Close: 3rd December 2017

Apply Here:


Watch this video to get an insight into the role of a CSO: 


Family Matters Report 2017 icon

Family Matters Report 2017: Calls for urgent action on the unacceptable rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed.

Family Matters Report 2017: Without urgent action the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from family will triple in the next 20 years

Download the Family Matters Report 2017

Family Matters Report 2017

Family Matter Media Release

The rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are removed from their families is an escalating national crisis.

Without immediate action from all levels of government further generations of children will be lost to their families, cultures and communities, according to a new report from the Family Matters campaign.

The report – launched at Parliament House on 29 November – reveals a shocking trend in the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are now nearly 10 times as likely to be removed from their family as non-Indigenous children – a disparity which continues to grow.

If we continue on this path, carved out by the flawed approaches of consecutive governments, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care will more than triple in the next 20 years.

“Twenty years ago, the Bringing them Home report brought public and political awareness to the destructive impact of the Stolen Generations on communities, families and children – a historical pain that has caused trauma with lasting impacts. We cannot allow the history of trauma to devastate yet another generation of our children.

“In the 20 years since Bringing them Home, and nearly 10 years since the national apology, the numbers of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care have continued to escalate.”

– Natalie Lewis, Family Matters Co-Chair

The Family Matters Report shows that only 17 per cent of the child protection budget is spent on services aimed at preventing issues for families before they develop, while the bulk of spending is invested in reacting to problems when they arise.

The Family Matters Report clearly shows we have a system that invests in failure and not success.

“Only one in every five dollars spent on child protection is invested in family supports. Supportive and preventative services – designed to build the capacity of families to care for children and allow children to thrive – are crucial to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.”

– Natalie Lewis

The Family Matters Report provides a comprehensive analysis of child protections systems in every state and territory, judged against a series of building blocks to ensuring child safety and wellbeing.

The disproportionate representation of our children, and the failure to adequately provide for their wellbeing and ensure fulfilment of their rights, are characteristics common to all jurisdictions.

“Those of us working for our communities are striving to address these fundamental system failures, but what we really need is governments to resource our vision for a better future for our children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been forthcoming with solutions to these issues for many, many years. We need to work together now to prevent another generation of children growing up separated from their family, culture and connection to country.”

– Natalie Lewis


Free to Be Kids – National Plan of Action released

A plan to transform the justice system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Today the Change the Record Coalition launched an eight-point plan -Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action – to transform the youth justice system and prevent abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in prisons.

“The time to act is now. This is an historic opportunity for the Federal Government to make a difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” said Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair of Change the Record.

“The Royal Commission into Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory demonstrated shocking abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prisons, and we know that similar abuses are happening right around the country,” said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of Change the Record.

Change the Record has said the Federal Government must:

Support children, families and communities to stay strong and together
Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14
Get children who are not sentenced out of prison
Adequately fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal and other support services
End abusive practices in prisons
Set targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison
Improve collection and use of data
Work through COAG to reform State and Territory laws that breach children’s rights

Download Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action [PDF]


Change the Record - Free to be Kids