NEWS: Assistance with Blue Card Applications

Great work in Mt Isa, making a difference in remote communities.

A great story from our Mt Isa office on how a little Civil Law assistance went a long way to creating much needed care options for Aboriginal families in and around Normanton.

In September 2014, Solicitor Katie Elder from our Mt Isa office assisted a client in Normanton with various submissions for their Blue Card application. A Blue Card is a legal requirement for all people wanting to work with children and obtaining one would assist the client in becoming a foster carer.

The application was submitted in October 2014 and after a lengthy processing period, Katie received the great news that the client’s Blue Card had been granted. Delighted with the outcome Katie said “the highlight was not only my client’s happiness but the fact that there are now two families in Normanton who are full time carers and one of these is Indigenous.”

In a remote town like Normanton where kinship care options are limited, the flow on effect from such outcomes work to build community service capacity and make a positive difference to the lives of Aboriginal children and their families. In this case, it means some children entering care won’t have to be relocated to larger towns like Mt Isa (which 5 ½ hours away by road).

Overcoming the tyranny of distance means more kids are able to stay on country, enjoy more regular contact with family and maintain strong connections with culture.

Great work Katie and all the team in the ATSILS Mt Isa office.

Visit the Fact Sheets page on our website for more information:

https://www.atsils.org.au/fact-sheets/

If you require legal assistance phone ATSILS :
Free Call – 1800 012 255

STAFF ACHIEVEMENT: Congratulations Renee Taylor

This week the brilliant Renee Taylor from our Beenleigh office shared the fantastic news that she has been accepted into a LLB degree program.

After completing an Associate Degree in Law (Paralegal) last year, Renee is now shooting for the stars and will pursue a Bachelor of Laws.

We wish Renee all the very best with her future studies and the exciting career path ahead, wherever it may take her – from Legal Secretary, to Solicitor, to Barrister & beyond!

Mediation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shown a lot of interest in mediation since Dispute Resolution Centres were established.

Mediation is more in tune with the traditional ways of settling disputes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than the legal and criminal justice system.

Linked below is a great fact sheet released by the State Department of Justice and Attorney-General on mediation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with a list of state-wide mediation services contacts.

View Fact Sheet

 

Further Information:

http://www.qld.gov.au/law/legal-mediation-and-justice-of-the-peace/setting-disputes-out-of-court/medation-for-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples/ 

ATSILS Logo

MEDIA RELEASE: Smarter justice needed in the former ‘Smart State’

Date: Wednesday, 3rd June 2015

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) is calling on the Palaszczuk Government to show leadership and champion change by adopting a justice reinvestment approach to address the state’s incarceration crisis. The call comes in the wake of Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) figures that reveal more people in Queensland are living behind bars than ever before.

Shane Duffy, Chief Executive Officer of ATSILS, said “we would welcome an opportunity to engage with the government to discuss long term solutions to the crisis based on intervention, prevention and diversion strategies which form the basis of a Justice Reinvestment approach.”

The QCS figures show a 20% surge in the state’s prison numbers in just two years, and confirms the state’s prison population is the highest on record at more than 7200. All 12 of the state’s high security facilities are currently operating at beyond capacity and serious overcrowding has seen a doubling in the rate of reported assaults.

A considerable factor in the crisis is the gross over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland prisons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people currently make up less than 4% of the state’s population, however account for nearly a third of the state’s inmates. Various governments tough on crime policies have disproportionately affected the most disadvantaged in the community and have put a strain on our prison system at great public expense.

With such high Indigenous representation in the crisis, ATSILS urges the government to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities, services and their representatives, to develop and implement justice reinvestment solutions.

Mr Duffy said “coming from a deficit position the government can no longer invest in costly, unsustainable prison infrastructure at the expense of affordable housing, education, mental health and social services that are vital to the fabric of thriving safe communities.”

Justice reinvestment is an approach that has had success in the USA and fundamental to the approach is investment in community services that tackle the underlying root causes of crime. Justice reinvestment makes a very strong economic argument to better utilise tax payer funds. Currently there is a pilot scheme happening in Bourke, NSW and ATSILS hope to see the Justice Reinvestment approach adopted in communities across Queensland.

The current crisis presents a great opportunity for the new government to charter a course of innovative change and localise justice reinvestment approaches specific to the challenges we face in Queensland.

Media Contact:   Joshua Herd0439 561 775 or joshua.herd@atsils.org.au

Downlaod/Print Media Release [PDF]