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

 

Download Media Release [PDF]

ATSILS (QLD) a joint winner at the 2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd was a joint winner last night in the “Partnership” category of the 2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards for our work with key partners in delivering the Northern Peninsula Area Licensing Muster Initiative.

 
We would like to extend our congratulations also to key partners involved in the initiative – Northern Peninsula Area Justice Services Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation (NPA Community Justice Group) and Queensland Police Service (Bamaga Station).
 
The award is a great credit to our team up in the Torres Strait and NPA regions and in particular Annabelle Craft (our Prevention, Intervention and CLE Officer)– whose professionalism and hard work was a key driver of the partnership initiative.
 
We’d also like to acknowledge C’Zarke Maza our Regional Manager in the NPA and Torres Strait regions, who first raised the challenge surrounding unlicensed driving charges in the regions with the executive – which was then taken up at the departmental level by Shane Duffy our CEO. Whilst with departmental support the wheels were put in motion, it would have been easy for the initiative to grind to a halt – but with Annabelle at the steering wheel, such was never going to happen.
 
The Northern Peninsula Area Licensing Muster Initiative is a justice reinvestment strategy that has been providing cross-agency, holistic, evidence-based, proactive, and culturally safe support to the five communities of the NPA around licensing, registration, and identity documents since 2019.
 
The initiative aims to reduce unnecessary contact that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience with the criminal justice system related to driving and vehicle related offending. Such contact often leads to offenders being sent to correctional facilities located thousands of kilometres away from their community.
 
The initiative arose through prolonged observation of the high numbers of community members facing court action and punishment for non-violent driving-related offences, as well as social and economic exclusion. It appeared that many community members lacked sufficient or consistent primary identity documentation, immediately precluding them from accessing the services and opportunities many Australians take for granted.
 
Congratulations to Annabelle, the team and all partners involved. This initiative is a great example of the targeted impact justice reinvestment strategies can have on addressing the over-representation and unnecessary contact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience in the justice system.
 
To read more on the success of this program visit:

Our Ipswich office making sure their local community has a voice!

Out in our Ipswich office, Regional Manager Kevin Rose invites local elders & respected persons to speak to our Ipswich team at the end of every staff meeting.

Making sure the local community has a voice and staying in touch with grassroots people is vital to informing our cultural proficiency and ensuring our legal service delivery is responsive to local community needs.

Well done Kevin and all the team in Ipswich.

 

 

Sorry Business and Funeral – COVID-19 Updated for Information

Sorry Business and other cultural activities are very important. But it is more important to keep Elders — and others who are already ill — safe by following the restrictions around gatherings.

For the latest information and guidelines please visit: https://www.datsip.qld.gov.au/coronavirus/sorry-business-funerals

 

QUT Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program visit to ATSILS

EQASA0yU0AEBze_It was great to have students from QUT’s Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program visit our Brisbane office this week. These bright and deadly ones spent time with our team to learn more about the important role of ATSILS in the function of the justice system and our work in protecting and advancing the legal & human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The students were welcomed by our Director of Sector Engagement and Communications – Graham White, and members of our Legal, Court Support and Prevention, Intervention and Community Legal Education teams enjoyed sharing insight into the key roles they undertake in delivering legal services to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Increased representation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the legal sector is an important element in addressing the ongoing disadvantage our people experience in the justice system. AT ATSILS we are committed to fostering partnerships with progressive academic institutions like QUT (Queensland University of Technology) and welcome the opportunity to play our part in inspiring the next generation of legal practitioners along their career paths.

Photo Credit: (QUT Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program)

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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.

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Our People: I work at ATSILS because?

Hear from some of our dedicated team working to change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives for the better. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service provides innovative, professional and culturally competent legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Queensland.

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Client Satisfaction Survey Annual Report for 2015-16

When delivering our innovative, professional and culturally competent legal services across Queensland we always seek feedback on the assistance provided to clients. Client feedback is captured periodically to ensure we are delivering quality assistance in line with needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families, and that meet the requirements of our funding body (Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department). Below are the collated responses and data analysis for our Client Satisfaction Survey  Annual Report 2015/2016.

View full report

 

Part A: Statistical Information


 

 Table 1: Summary of Client Satisfaction Surveys (2015-16)

Client Satisfaction - ATSILS Representation

Number of Clients Surveyed: 1,188              Criminal Law:    1125                      Civil Law:         21             Family Law:   42
Part A: satisfaction level of legal representation
Very satisfied 835 70.29%
More than satisfied 128 10.77%
Satisfied 216 18.18%
Unsatisfied 3 0.25%
Very unsatisfied 6 0.51%
Part B: General Observations
Was it easy to locate our office? Yes                  791 No               11     N/A          386            
How quickly seen? Quickly           909 Fairly Quickly     269 Too Slowly       10
How treated by staff? V. Well   958 Well           169 Adequately   60 Poorly    1
Comprehensible explanation? Yes           1180         No                  8                               
Satisfied with staff handling? Yes          1184                 No                4                     
Culturally sensitive? Yes          1171               No                17                       

Conclusion: An excellent outcome – with in excess of 81% of clients being either very satisfied or more than satisfied with the service provision received – with less than 1% of clients being unsatisfied.

 

 Table 2: Satisfaction by Remoteness Index (all law types)

Client Satisfaction by Remoteness Index

OfficeLocation VerySatisfied More thanSatisfied Satisfied Unsatisfied VeryUnsatisfied PercentageSatisfied +
Metropolitan 159 22 15 1 1 98.99%
Regional 475 80 150 2 2 99.44%
Remote 201 26 51 0 3 98.93%
Totals: 835 128 216 3 6 99.24%

 

Table 3: Satisfaction by Law Type

ATSILS Client Satisfaction by Legal Assistance Type

Law Type VerySatisfied More thanSatisfied Satisfied Unsatisfied VeryUnsatisfied PercentageSatisfied +
Criminal 785 117 215 3 5 99.29%
Civil 16 4 1 0 0 100%
Family 34 7 0 0 1 97.62%
Totals: 835 128 216 3 6 99.24%

 

Note: Office by office figures are also analysed (albeit not contained within this report)

 

Part B: Client Feedback (written comments – by office location)


ATSILS Service - What do our clients think?

Beenleigh Comments:-

  • Very prompt service
  • Communication was good
  • Could be better by checking that everyone has representation

Brisbane Comments:-

  • Work organisation & construction of the case defence & common knowledge
  • Very happy
  • Things we well explained
  • Has been with me from the start – without her I would be here writing toady – Power to the people
  • Lawyer was excellent in keeping me informed of all aspects of the case and provided me excellent advice and support and I am very grateful & appreciative of this support and would recommend ATSILS to any future clients.
  • Could be better with replaceable lawyers if needed

 Bundaberg Comments:-

  • Happy with my advice
  • Nat was very helpful in explaining the process to me – thanks
  • Thanks you for helping so much
  • I was impressed with service, really happy with representation – thanks you
  • All aspects of assistance was great, excellent communication
  • Looked after my best interests
  • Everything was very good
  • Good support
  • My matter was dealt with – very excellent results

Charleville / Cunnamulla / Roma Comments:-

  • It was extremely good how Solicitor kept in contact with us & was upfront form the start was really pleased with outcome
  • Very good
  • Direction given was very good
  • Happy with outcome
  • Great staff very helpful
  • Could have been better by not changing solicitors as we had to keep telling the same story (3 solicitors)
  • The contact I was very happy with
  • It is better now than it was 4 years ago
  • Had a good solicitor
  • Happy with outcome and Laurie representing me
  • Explained what I can’t understand
  • This was the best service I ever have had and it was because of the solicitor
  • Could have been better – office was a little untidied, paperwork could be put away

Hervey Bay Comments:-

  • Excellent communication between the service and myself – up to date, reports and info regarding the process
  • Easy to work with and kept me informed with court hearings
  • Professional in all areas
  • Went well thank you so much

Ipswich Comments:-

  • Communication was very good I knew what was happening at every step can’t thank him enough for his efforts
  • Communication was great
  • Extremely good
  • My lawyer was a straight shooter and what he says he does and he actually cares
  • Spoken to nicely & everything was explained very well
  • Solicitor was amazing, caring and gave me the time of day and made me feel at ease
  • Service was fast and explained well
  • I got the best outcome, staff was great and always been helpful
  • The way I was treated was good
  • Always go above and beyond
  • Really in touch with the family  and do all I asked thank you more than words could say
  • Very please pf outcome of court and my lawyers service
  • Could have been better – I saw [name omitted from report] for 2 minutes, I felt I wasn’t given the time of the day, I felt he was rude and felt lessor of a person compared to him

Mackay Comments:-

  • My representation was good
  • They were good in all areas
  • My completed service was great
  • I was very happy that ATSILS represented me
  • All good
  • Everything went fine
  • Representation was really good & they listened to me
  • Happy with the lot e.g. outcome and representation
  • I was happy with the solicitor who represented me
  • They were very through happy with outcome
  • Got me a good outcome
  • Everything went fine
  • My solicitor was very successful with the little information she had
  • Overall 100% great
  • Representation & explanation of charges and outcomes was good
  • Solicitor asked questions and very clear
  • Representation and explanation was very good
  • Could have been better – my solicitor was unsure and did not feel confident
  • Could have been better with a full time family lawyer it was stressful when I couldn’t get one

Maroochydore Comments:-

  • I was treated with respect and they helped me and listened to me
  • Great – keep up the good work
  • Very easy to communicate with and work with
  • Very happy with service
  • Very professional also listed to my events and delivered the same to the court
  • Very well explained for my understanding
  • Tim was fantastic in the way he handle everything on the day and the lead up Very pleased thank you so much
  • I wouldn’t go anywhere else for legal advice
  • Legends they listened to you
  • Al round very good service
  • Rod did the best he could with the charges I had
  • Very helpful with everything
  • He done everything he could & I am happy with the outcome
  • Getting charges dropped to a lesser charge. Explaining when was happening throughout the course of going to court
  • The service was great very understanding do their job to a high standard and will use them again and recommend them to other people
  • I couldn’t ask for a better solicitor 
  • She is particularly through and everything got done – team was brilliant
  • Mediation was excellent – getting somewhere there
  • My matter was such short notice – 4 days to put it together – working w/ends – the team did such a great job
  • They went the extra mile to make calls to me everyone was really considerate to my needs
  • They made sure I understood the legal jargon – I finally got a resolution
  • I felt that all the legal assistance and representation in relation to my family law matter was outstanding 
  • Very helpful and personal service I felt supported and communication was clear and upfront
  • Solicitor answered all my questions – very good explanation at what could happen and how he could help me in this situation
  • Could have been better – parking was very difficult

Murgon Comments:-

  • I thought they were helpful
  • Explained all aspects of defence well
  • Services were good
  • Staff are easy to talk to and do a very good job
  • At any time of day I was able to contact by phone or email. Made it much easier through the ordeal
  • Following up with me and leaving messages as I struggled through the last 6 months. Being available to answer phones calls / reassure on weekends and receiving written confirmation of court outcomes
  • Could have been better – I felt let down in May of this year when the [omitted] lawyer,  [name omitted from report] didn’t help me with my case re: [omitted]
  • Could have been netter – A little bit disappointed that they couldn’t attend the watch house quicker. I don’t like spending the whole day locked-up

Normanton Comments:-

  • Very good rep from the lawyer
  • First time – very good
  • Could have been better – more presence in the community

 Rockhampton Comments:-

  • Lawyers and support always there to help. There was no judgement and I am extremely happy with the outcome
  • Thanks ATSILS
  • I was very satisfied
  • Very happy for the way that ATSILS acted on my behalf very thankful and appreciated
  • Super satisfied thank you heaps
  • Communication is awesome 
  • Thanks for the advice on the warrant
  • Top efforts
  • Thanks Shayne
  • Stoked – brilliant
  • Thank ATSILS, CJG and ISL court for your help
  • Thank you helping me get my charge being dismissed
  • Thanks you for case conferencing my matters
  • Excellent communication
  • Happy with service and staff – NOT happy worth curt outcome

Southport Comments:-

  • Very satisfied
  • I will use you Aboriginal Legal Aid all the time
  • Happy with the service and outcome
  • As always very helpful
  • I was most impressed with Sunil, he was very professional and very helpful
  • They looked after me very well
  • Very happy
  • Very professional and caring explained everything in detail
  • They did everything I could have wanted and more
  • Explain things well
  • Help was very good
  • I was more than happy with the service’s received, very much appreciated
  • It was my first time going to court and my lawyer was very good and made me feel relaxed
  • As always my lawyer gives me information and legal advice I ask for. She is always supportive in any situation that I have and willing to help if she can. Always points me in the right direction
  • I was very happy that we resolved my problems

Thursday Island:-

  • Service was good
  • Very professional approach and open and easy to talk to
  • Well done keep up the good work
  • You guys are great
  • Very satisfied for the way you handle my case
  • Client service was good
  • Good at explaining the matter and outcome and clear communication
  • My first time at court and a charge was dropped to this helped me – I like that the legal service and court come to Badu
  • Everything was good and satisfied with the outcome
  • I would recommend ATSILS to all in the area
  • Good having a field office who explains to understand
  • Service was very excellent and always concerned about me
  • Could have been better – in need of an interpreter for kids
  • Could have been better – tell me what’s going on and too much court dates
  • Could have been better – May need a microphone or PA system – Magistrate couldn’t hear because of the fans

 Toowoomba / Dalby / Goondiwindi / St George / Warwick / Chinchilla Comments:-

  • Great support everything was explained
  • I am very happy I still have my licence
  • Extremely satisfied
  • You are the best
  • Good to talk to it a good system and very helpful
  • Listened to me
  • Good service
  • Extremely good communication between myself and lawyer, very helpful on all levels
  • Very good so happy with the outcome
  • Explained everything

Townsville Comments:-

  • Had an outstanding lawyer.  Professionalism really shone through. I would recommend him to anybody he has changed our lives forever we will be forever in his debt. Thank you will all our hearts.
  • Lawyer delivered a great service & he was culturally appropriate in delivering a quality service
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Our People: I work at ATSILS because?

Hear from some of our dedicated team working to change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives for the better.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service provides innovative, professional and culturally competent legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Queensland.

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Experts call for new approach to Indigenous incarceration

In his role as Co – Chair – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services & Change The Record Coalition, our CEO Shane Duffy speaks to Australasian Lawyer about the call for a new approach to Indigenous incarceration.

“The policing methodology in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country has been more about ‘lock them up and throw away the key’. We continuously see governments winning elections based off law and order agendas and incarcerations. What we need to do is look at a new, smarter approach to ensuring we have safer communities across the country.” – Shane Duffy, Co – Chair – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services & Change The Record Coalition

Read Full Article Here:
http://www.australasianlawyer.com.au/news/experts-call-for-new-approach-to-indigenous-incarceration-207789.aspx#.VjgTOnE73mI.twitter

See Lateline’s full interview with ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy at the link below.
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4344050.htm

These are the smarter solutions we are campaigning for:
https://changetherecord.org.au/solutions

Pledge your support to ‪#‎ChangeTheRecord‬ on violence and imprisonment rates today –> http://www.changetherecord.org.au/pledge