NAIDOC Week: ALA calls for Indigenous Legal Assistance Program to be retained
10th Jul 2019
During NAIDOC Week, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) is joining the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) to call on the Federal Government to commit to retaining the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program (ILAP).
In the Federal Budget 2019-20, the Government announced that from 2020 funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services would be mainstreamed into a national mechanism, abolishing the ILAP.
“At a time when we are the most incarcerated people in the world, there is clear, demonstrated support for the Government to maintain its commitment to self-determined ATSILS by retaining the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program,” said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
Over 100 legal, health, disability, social justice and human rights organisations are behind the call to retain the ILAP, signing an open letter to the Federal Government l on the issue.
“If these plans proceed, this government will be responsible for exacerbating the legal injustices and mass incarcerations already being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said ALA National President, Mr Andrew Christopoulos. “We must stand together to ensure ATSILS can continue to provide vital legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
These calls are supported by a recent independent review of ILAP that recommended the Commonwealth funding to be delivered through a standalone and specific program that directly funds ATSILS and NATSILS.