MEDIA RELEASE: ATSILS calls for an independent body to investigate public complaints against police

Queensland needs an independent body to investigate complaints against police officers to ensure greater transparency and community confidence in law enforcement.

 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) is appalled at the alleged behaviour of a police officer in Cunnamulla who was recently filmed threatening to ‘flog’ and ‘hurt’ a member of the community in the south west Queensland township.

ATSILS CEO Mr. Shane Duffy said, “If the investigation substantiates that the police officer indeed made the threats as alleged, then it would be difficult to justify any outcome other than the officer’s dismissal. The officer’s actions (if substantiated) not only undermine the Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) own documented ethical standards and the Queensland Public Service Code of Conduct, but also the local community’s expectations and confidence in law enforcement.

“Police officers are public servants who are entrusted with a range of powers and responsibilities critical to maintaining community safety. The community expects these powers and responsibilities will be exercised in line with the highest standards of professionalism given the level of training police receive and the important role they play in the community.”, Mr. Duffy said.

“If a citizen was to threaten a police officer in the same way this member of the public was threatened in this video, I would guarantee they would be charged. It should be without question that the same standards, in terms of criminal behaviour, should apply to the police as to the wider community”, Mr. Duffy said.

ATSILS understands an informal investigation into the incident is being undertaken by the QPS. Our communities have no confidence in the current process of police investigating public complaints against police internally. ATSILS has been calling for a legislative change to this process for decades in line with The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) Recommendation 226 which clearly outlines a way to deal with community confidence in relation to such matters.

Recommendation 226 states that in all jurisdictions the processes for dealing with complaints against police need to be urgently reviewed. The RCIADIC recommended that legislation should be based on the following principle amongst many others, specific to police – That complaints against police should be made to, be investigated by or on behalf of and adjudicated upon by a body or bodies totally independent of Police Services. An independent investigation benefits both the complainant and the police, it ensures greater transparency and thus trust in the police service in general.

Media Contact for Mr Shane Duffy:
Joshua.herd@atsils.org.au

 

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MEDIA RELEASE: ATSILS (QLD) legal and community legal education service delivery to cease in the Torres Strait & Northern Peninsula Area.

Date: 13th April 2021

ATSILS (QLD) legal and community legal education service delivery to cease in the Torres Strait & Northern Peninsula Area.

  

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd – ATSILS wishes to advise that it will no longer be delivering legal assistance and community legal education services to communities throughout the Torres Strait Region and Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) from the end of the current funding agreement 30 June 2021.

For the past 10 years the ATSILS team has worked tirelessly to ensure some of the most remote communities in Australia have access to justice under a funding arrangement with the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA).

ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy said, “since 2011 we have built strong relationships with the community, courts and broader social services sector to address and advocate for not only the legal needs of our clients, but also the root causes as to why they need our services.”

“As the primary legal service provider in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area for the last 10 years, we are proud of the work we have done in improving access to justice for communities across this remote region. Our staff who have worked there can hold their heads up high with the legacy they leave.”

“I wish the communities of the Torres Strait and NPA regions all the best for the future and I would like to praise the diligent commitment of Regional Manager C’Zarke Maza and his team for making a positive difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the quality work they’ve done for many years. I would also like to thank the TSRA and other stakeholders in the region for their support and collaboration in assisting us to ensure better access to justice for people in these regions.”

“Our focus will remain on ensuring our clients in the region receive the same quality services until the end of our current contract (June 30, 2021) and we will work with the TSRA and the new service provider to ensure a smooth transition period prior to the end of June,” Mr Duffy said.

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Current Access to ATSILS Legal Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ServiceAccess_NeedLegalHelp_OfficeLocations_COVID-19_1During these uncertain times, please be assured ATSILS (QLD) is still currently providing legal assistance both in and out of court for our clients but with changes so as to protect our staff, our clients and our communities from the spread of COVID-19.
 
Some courts are closed and some only let a few people inside the court at a time. We are using telephone and video links where we can and adjourning matters that we can. We have cancelled all our non-essential travel to communities.
 
If you have a matter in court, please call the ATSILS office that is helping you before your court date. We can advise you what to do next by phone.
 
As of today 24/03/2020 we encourage all contact with ATSILS staff to be made via phone unless we have made other arrangements with you. All face to face lawyer/client contact and workshops with community groups will be officially suspended by ATSILS (QLD) as of 26/03/2020. We know things will keep changing so it is important to stay in touch with your local office.
 
If you are not sure which ATSILS Office is helping you, please call 1800 012 255.
 
For all state-wide contact details for ATSILS offices visit:
 
We will also do our best to share any changes in how we will be delivering services or changes to Court procedures, so please check our social media channels regularly for the latest updates.
 
View ATSILS Media Release re: Suspending Face to Face Contact with Clients:
 
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ATSILS suspends the delivery of face to face legal services in response to the heightening risk that COVID-19 poses to staff and communities.

FacebookCOVID19_MediaReleaseWith the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Queensland, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) will enact further service delivery adjustments to help protect our workforce and communities. As of the 26/03/2020, ATSILS advises that it will cease all face to face lawyer/client contact and workshops with community groups. Wherever possible, information and communication technology resources will be utilised to facilitate the continued delivery of essential legal assistance services to our clients.
ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy said, “we have a duty to protect our workforce and the communities we serve from the heightening risk of COVID-19 infection. This unprecedented measure has been made primarily in accordance with our duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which requires our organisation to provide a safe workplace and a safe system of work to ensure the health and safety of our staff.”

“ATSILS has also advised the Chief Magistrate of the decision to cease face-to-face services.”

“ATSILS is well into enacting our contingency actions from our COVID-19 Response Plan. We are working daily with our Board of Directors, State and Federal Government, Queensland Courts and the organisations health advisors. Most organisations around the world are undertaking these steps to limit the threat to staff and their communities”, Mr Duffy said.

Earlier today Mr Duffy advised ATSILS staff of the additional precautionary measures that would be put into place. Staff have been transitioned to work from home arrangements where possible and will utilise telephone, internet, intranet and video-link options to facilitate the ongoing delivery of legal services to clients during this time of rapid change and uncertainty.

ATSILS wishes all staff and communities the best of health and encourages all to remain vigilant with self-care, social distancing, self-isolation where relevant, and to follow increased hygiene practices both personally and in the environments in which you live and work.  As the impact of the virus in Queensland changes, advice will also change quickly, so it is important to get up-to-date health and safety advice from credible sources. We recommend following updates from: Queensland Health, Australian Department of Health, and the World Health Organisation.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service will continue to monitor the situation related to COVID-19 and update staff, clients, community and stakeholders of any further service delivery adjustments accordingly.

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For further information regarding access to legal services during this time please contact an ATSILS office in your region: https://www.atsils.org.au/contact/

Email: info@atsils@org.au

Call: 1800 012 255 – Free call 24/7 for urgent criminal law matters.

Media Contact for Mr Shane Duffy:
Joshua.herd@atsils.org.au

COVID-19 Impacts on Service Delivery – Palm Island and Cherbourg

Update 3: 19/03/2019

FacebookCOVID19_MediaReleaseCOVID-19 Impacts on Service Delivery – (Torres Strait Islands, Northern Peninsula Area, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Regions, and the communities of Woorabinda, Yarrabah, Palm Island and Cherbourg.)

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) advises that all pre court and court circuits into the Torres Strait Islands, Northern Peninsula Area, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Regions, and now into the communities of Woorabinda, Yarrabah, Palm Island and Cherbourg have been suspended immediately due to the potential health vulnerability of our people in remote communities.

ATSILS is committed to supporting efforts from all levels of government to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to communities. This decision to suspend service in these regions is a critical response that aligns with the Australian Government’s – National Indigenous Australians Agency’s advice, to carefully balance community needs with the public health implications of any travel.

In addition to travel restrictions to our remote communities, ATSILS will also be looking to limit travel by staff to and from communities in other regions of the state (including urban and regional) for non-essential purposes, where options such as tele/videoconference or postponement are reasonable alternatives. In addition, pre-arranged events requiring people to travel to or from communities will be deferred indefinitely. Several remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are also starting to restrict access to their community for non-essential travel.

CEO Shane Duffy said, “ATSILS will continue to provide essential services with increased caution to protect staff and the community of which we service from the potential spread of COVID-19. We have a response plan in place to increase protection for our staff, clients and communities and are continually implementing business continuity arrangements to minimise disruption to service delivery.”

In line with the advice from the Australian Government, the benefits of continuing delivery of services, needs to be balanced with managing the risk of potentially spreading the virus within the community.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation related to COVID-19 and update staff, clients, community and stakeholders of any further service delivery adjustments accordingly.

For further information regarding access to legal services during this time please contact an ATSILS office in your region: https://www.atsils.org.au/contact/

Email: info@atsils@org.au

Call: 1800 012 255 – Free call 24/7 for urgent criminal law matters.

Media Contact for Mr Shane Duffy: Joshua.herd@atsils.org.au

MEDIA Release: COVID-19 Impacts on Service Delivery Woorabinda and Yarrabah

FacebookCOVID19_MediaReleaseCOVID-19 Impacts on Service Delivery – (Torres Strait Islands, Northern Peninsula Area, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Regions, and the communities of Woorabinda and Yarrabah.)

 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) advises that all pre court and court circuits into the Torres Strait Islands, Northern Peninsula Area, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Regions, and into the communities of Woorabinda and Yarrabah have been suspended immediately due to the potential health vulnerability of our people in remote communities.

ATSILS is committed to supporting efforts from all levels of government to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to communities. This decision to suspend service in these regions is a critical response that aligns with the Australian Government’s – National Indigenous Australians Agency’s advice, to carefully balance community needs with the public health implications of any travel.

In addition to travel restrictions to our remote communities, ATSILS will also be looking to limit travel by staff to and from communities in other regions of the state (including urban and regional) for non-essential purposes, where options such as tele/videoconference or postponement are reasonable alternatives. In addition, pre-arranged events requiring people to travel to or from communities will be deferred indefinitely. Several remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are also starting to restrict access to their community for non-essential travel.

CEO Shane Duffy said, “ATSILS will continue to provide essential services with increased caution to protect staff and the community of which we service from the potential spread of COVID-19. We have a response plan in place to increase protection for our staff, clients and communities and are continually implementing business continuity arrangements to minimise disruption to service delivery.”

In line with the advice from the Australian Government, the benefits of continuing delivery of services, needs to be balanced with managing the risk of potentially spreading the virus within the community.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation related to COVID-19 and update staff, clients, community and stakeholders of any further service delivery adjustments accordingly.

Download/Print Media Release

For further information regarding access to legal services during this time please contact an ATSILS office in your region: https://www.atsils.org.au/contact/

Email: info@atsils@org.au

Call: 1800 012 255 – Free call 24/7 for urgent criminal law matters.

Media Contact for Mr Shane Duffy: Joshua.herd@atsils.org.au

MEDIA Release: COVID-19 Impacts on Service Delivery

FacebookCOVID19_MediaReleaseThe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) advises that all pre court and court circuits into the Torres Strait Islands, Northern Peninsula Area, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Regions have been suspended immediately due to the potential health vulnerability of our people in remote communities.

ATSILS (QLD) is committed to supporting efforts from all levels of government to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to communities. This decision to suspend service in these regions is a critical response that aligns with the Australian Government’s – National Indigenous Australians Agency’s advice, to carefully balance community needs with the public health implications of any travel.

In addition to travel restrictions to our remote communities, ATSILS will also be looking to limit travel by staff to and from communities in other regions of the state (including urban and regional) for non-essential purposes, where options such as tele/videoconference or postponement are reasonable alternatives. In addition, pre-arranged events requiring people to travel to or from communities will be deferred indefinitely. Several remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are also starting to restrict access to their community for non-essential travel.

CEO Shane Duffy said, “ATSILS will continue to provide essential services with increased caution to protect staff and the community of which we service from the potential spread of COVID-19. We have a response plan in place to increase protection for our staff, clients and communities and are continually implementing business continuity arrangements to minimise disruption to service delivery.”

In line with the advice from the Australian Government, the benefits of continuing delivery of services, needs to be balanced with managing the risk of potentially spreading the virus within the community.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation related to COVID-19 and update staff, clients, community and stakeholders of any further service delivery adjustments accordingly.

For further information regarding access to legal services during this time please contact an ATSILS office in your region: https://www.atsils.org.au/contact/

Email: info@atsils@org.au

Call: 1800 012 255 – Free call 24/7 for urgent criminal law matters.

Media Contact for Mr Shane Duffy: Joshua.herd@atsils.org.au

Download/Print ATSILS COVID-19 Media Release

Another death in custody due to human rights breaches?

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd is appalled at the state of play for children and juveniles currently languishing in police watch houses across Queensland. It is totally unacceptable that such vulnerable young people are being subjected to this type of traumatic treatment whilst under the care of the state. Holding kids in these facilities is extremely dangerous and simply creates an unsafe environment where another death in custody is more likely to occur due to human rights abuses.

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Media Release: Historic Human Rights Act passed in Queensland Parliament today

MediaRelease_Facebook_HRactforQLD2Historic legislation passed in Queensland Parliament today will better protect the rights of the most vulnerable in the state.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) commends the Palaszczuk Government for their unwavering commitment to advancing and protecting the rights of Queenslanders, especially the most vulnerable with the passing of Queensland Human Rights Bill today.

Chief Executive Officer of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD Shane Duffy said that “Queensland has raised the bar by setting a new standard in human rights that sees the most comprehensive and accessible human rights protections in the country now enshrined in legislation.”

“The legislative protection of human rights is the critical foundation we’ve needed to progress towards a fairer and more equitable Queensland.”

“We look forward to seeing the positive impact these detailed human rights protections will have on addressing elements in the cycle of disadvantage and discrimination that our clients, their families and other vulnerable groups in communities experience daily.”

“We especially welcome the much-needed protections related to the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the economic, social and cultural rights to education and healthcare contained in the bill.”

The human rights legislation in Queensland has many firsts and improves on laws in Victoria through the establishment of a complaint mechanism that will be facilitated by the creation of the Queensland Human Rights Commission. The Commission will ensure the laws are more accessible to the most vulnerable who often do not have the financial capacity to enforce their human rights by way of legal representation and advocacy.

“We congratulate the Attorney General and Minster for Justice – Yvette D’Ath for seeing this complex legislation through Queensland Parliament and would like to pay tribute to the work of the Human Rights Act for Queensland campaign (HR4QLD) led by Aimee McVeigh who tirelessly lobbied the Queensland State Government and effectively engaged diverse sections of the community to support this important legislation,” Mr Duffy said.

ATSILS is proud to have been a part of the strong coalition of more than 40 community organisations that supported the HR4QLD campaign who were all united in their belief that protecting human rights in law would improve the lives of vulnerable Queenslanders.

We look forward to continuing the positive dialogue with the Palaszczuk Government and with key stakeholders and we hope to see stronger human rights protections adopted more broadly at a national level in the near future.

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Media Release: A Human Rights Act for Queensland

A Human Rights Act for Queensland is powerful medicine for advancing and protecting the rights of vulnerable Queenslanders.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) LTD (ATSILS) commends the Palaszczuk Government for their steadfast commitment to advancing human rights protections for all Queenslanders with the introduction of a human rights bill in parliament today.

ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy said, “This is an historic day for all Queenslanders, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, and the importance of the legislative protection of human rights is the critical foundation needed to progress towards a fairer and more equitable Queensland.”

We represent many vulnerable people in diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the State who have for too long been disadvantaged by poor policies and laws that entrench poverty, perpetuate discrimination and fuel the ongoing over-representation of our people in the justice system.”

ATSILS looks forward to seeing the positive impact this legislation will have on strengthening human rights protections for individuals – particularly society’s most vulnerable. We especially welcome the much needed protections related to the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the economic, social and cultural rights to education and healthcare contained in the bill.

“Having human rights protections enshrined in law will be a real litmus test for addressing elements in this cycle of disadvantage and discrimination that our clients, their families and other vulnerable groups in communities experience daily,” Mr Duffy said.

ATSILS strongly endorses the introduction of a human rights charter in Queensland. This is in many respects a defining moment that has the clear potential to make for better outcomes and a fairer Queensland. A human rights instrument will see enhanced protections and rights for all Queenslanders and is particularly significant for the most vulnerable who often do not have the financial resources to enforce their human rights by way of legal representation and advocacy.

ATSILS looks forward to continuing the positive dialogue with the Palaszczuk Government and key stakeholders now and into the future as Queensland positions itself to lead the country in human rights protections.

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