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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) Ltd

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Write an essay on the "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) Ltd".



The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) is a non-profit organization that works for the indigenous population of Australia. The primitive ability of the organization is to provide legal services in the field of criminal, civil and family law to the Indigenous population of Queensland[1]. The ATSILS was formed with the intention of giving assistance to all Indigenous people so that they can have a clear understanding of the judicial systems that can help them in coping with the problems they have because of lack of education or other physical problems. The ATSILS also had the insight to ensure that their clients should be followed up regularly with their legal advice and also be represented in front of the police or the judicial systems without making any compromise of the culture from which they belong. Over the last financial years, ATSILS has provided various services for extending legal advice, solving indigenous test cases, bringing reform and policy development, providing community legal education and also giving care and support services to prisoners who are in custody. In this essay, these services of ATSILS shall be discussed.

Legal Assistance Provided by ATSILS

The ATSILS makes sure that at the national level, the rights of the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander people does not get hampered and that they work within the justice system to ensure equal delivery of rights and equitable access to justice for all people. Over the last year, several clients have been helped by the ATSILS and they have also worked in collaboration with other agencies like NAQ to make sure that high quality and culturally competent legal services. Those are delivered to all the people in the easiest way possible[2]. The work of ATSILS is underpinned with the ideals of Integrity, Human Rights, Collaboration, Leadership, and Diversity and Cultural grandeur. With expertise of members, the ATSILS has succeeded in becoming an expert in voicing their opinion on the rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and also ensuring delivery of justice to them[3]. It has given expert advice and commentary on the issues of human rights, social inclusion, and evidence-based criminal justice policy, access to justice, and systematic discrimination against the people living comprising of the Indigenous population of Australia.

ATSILS is known to provide 24-hour legal representation to the people who require the same on matters of civil criminal and family law. Over the last year this involves:

Advice Matters- This includes giving advice to the people on those matters that are not a part of any ongoing Duty or Casework. In this service, there is the availability of making free calls over the telephone and providing advice before taking any service or assisting in referrals. It is helping the clients in giving them preliminary assistance so that they can find ease in writing short letters or complete certain form filling procedures[4].

Duty Matters- This includes giving attendance in the courts and also receiving the initial instructions that are given by a lawyer in any particular case. In this service, there are all legal inclusions like mentioning clients, providing pleas, making applications for granting bail or performing the adjournments. That are supposed to be done on a duty lawyer basis or to ensure closure of matters in speedy trials on the same day and so on[5].

Casework Matters- This includes providing ongoing services to a particular legal problem that is in question. A defended hearing is one of the examples. It is not an imperative requirement that the matter should include litigation to it[6]. However, worth noting is the fact that the casework matters also include all those instances where there is a detailed provision of providing legal advice or negotiating a claim against any client. ATSILS makes sure that they remain available 24 hours so that any minor problem to any of the clients can be attended to by them at the earliest. It works more like a community development plan[7]. 

Indigenous Test Cases of ATSILS

The Means Test is applied by ATSILS to find out the people who are eligible to take services rendered by them. Since the resources are limited in front of the service providers, it is necessary to make sure that the most vulnerable ones get access to these services. The applications received by them are firstly put through a means and merit test and depending on the results of these tests. The applications are divided into three categories[8]. They are categorized either as those applicants who are eligible to get free legal assistance or they are pit into the category where they are given the opportunity of getting legal assistance subject to payment of certain fees, or they are categorized into applicants who are not eligible to get any services from them.

The means test is satisfied by an applicant as and when he satisfies three conditions after putting up an application[9]. The applicant needs to be under the age of 18 years firstly. Secondly, it is necessary that the main source of income of the applicant should come from either the CDEP participant wage or from Centrelink Benefits. Thirdly, the gross personal income of the applicant should be less than $46,000 per year that roughly sums up to less than $885 in one week.

Law Reform and Policy Development

ATSILS encourages gainful group and partner connections and organizations to convey lawful quality help, exhortation and representation, and backer law change and approach advancement to correct lawful strategies and practices. That effect antagonistically and lopsidedly on the lawful privileges of the residents who are either from the Aboriginal communities or the Torres Strait Islander people[10].

The commitment of ATSILS is underpinned by the traditional values of care, share and respect and the founding stone is laid by the values of the organization for which it was established. The people in ATSILS care for the human rights and the legal rights of the people and also make sure that every individual remains safe, and there is the psychological well-being of the clients.

These are given primary importance by the people and the workers in ATSILS, and the clients give importance to the fact that care should be rendered for the families and the communities at large while sharing a common motto of understanding the challenges of the clients and attending to their needs along with diligently striving them. It is taking them towards getting the highest quality of services[11]. Respect is given to the cultural diversity and values of each class of people is respected by them so that the clients can have the faith that the services given to them are kept confidential, are innovative in their identity, have professional excellence in them and also are culturally competent to their requirements.

A key center upon Prevention and Early Intervention exercises (those went for occupying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people groups far from the criminal equity framework). To that end, Justice Reinvestment activities are a need. Supporting the proceeded with change and availability and value of lawful administrations to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals is centered around unsurpassed[12]. Law change activities that are both proactive and examine existing strategies and practices, especially in connection to detainment, policing, family viciousness and the necessities of youth that effect antagonistically and excessively on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people groups. Connecting with key partners to impact positive change and convey imaginative, proficient and socially skilled legitimate administrations is an essential for them. 

Community Legal Education

The community legal education services of the ATSILS includes the provisions available for providing information and educational programs so that clients can be informed and also advances with the protection of the rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Islanders. The consultations are also used for identification and development of the localized communities in ensuring legal education programs[13].

For instance, the Australian Consumer Protection launched a program in July 2015 that was called “Avoid a funeral rip-off.” The crusade expects to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander purchasers about the diverse memorial service items that are accessible and to anticipate them agreeing to burial service arranges. Those are costly, complex and not appropriate for their necessities[14]. This was a wonderful initiative that was taken by the legislature but the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders seldom understood the implications of this initiative. Hence, the ATSILS made sure that all the aspects of the program are explained to them in detail along with making them understand the positive points that could be gained by them by way of this initiative.

Prisoner Throughcare Services

The goal of this Prisoner Throughcare Service of ATSILS is to extend support to all the prisoners and the youth detainees not only during their pre-release but also after their release. So that their behavioral patterns can be addressed and hence there can be a reduction on the prospects that they would do any such thing for which they might end up returning to the prison. The idea is to assist the clients as well as the communities to develop.

The focus is on those clients who are very vulnerable, and there is a high risk that they might return to offending once they are released. Hence, the workers work collaboratively for providing mental correction and also give the scope of reform to these individuals. The inmates are talked to, and their plans are discussed. Once they are released, assistance is given to them to improvise their social life and also help them in returning to the mainstream society[15].

The ATSILS’s Prisoner Throughcare services plan to diminish recidivism and imprisonment rates by supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees (both pre and post discharge) and their families through the conveyance of escalated, top notch case administration ("throughcare") administrations[16]. The center will be after helping a discrete number of focused detainees who are thought to be of a high danger of re-culpable – working cooperatively where fitting (and conceivable) with Correctional Facility staff and different partners. 


The ATSILS is working for improvising the living standards of the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders. The motto of ATSILS is to make sure that all the vulnerable classes of people in Queensland have access to their rights and are duly represented in front of the law. The Society has been working in this regard ever since it was established and has seen success in its endeavors to a great extent.  


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