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Justice investment in community legal assistance not enough


Aboriginal Family Legal Services WA (AFLS), a key legal assistance provider in the Pilbara, West Kimberley, Mid-West Gascoyne and Goldfields regions, congratulates Community Legal WA on its successful lobbying for a funding investment from the State Government in the legal assistance sector, as recently announced by the Attorney General. AFLS welcomes the investment in Community Legal Centres which, like AFLS, are severely underfunded.

Nevertheless, AFLS has expressed disappointment over the limited reach of the funding into the legal assistance sector over the next four years. The introduction of four-year funding agreements, and an additional $1.85 million for the community legal sector this financial year, will only be extended to Community Legal Centres. Specialist Family Violence Prevention Legal Services like AFLS and Southern Aboriginal Corporation, which provide legal assistance, preventative education and intensive support for Aboriginal victims of family and domestic violence, will not receive any funding under this deal. This is particularly disappointing when the services are members of Community Legal WA, but not ‘member enough’ to receive funding under this State Government arrangement.

AFLS CEO Corina Martin said that critical underfunding of Family Violence Prevention Legal Services in WA has placed constraints on the ability of the services to provide support for clients in need and created uncertainty about their future. “Family Violence Prevention Legal Services are in a particularly strong and unique position to drive systemic change and make a significant impact for Aboriginal people, yet we have been consistently underfunded and under-resourced. The State Government has never funded our services, yet they expect us to share our data, participate in their reference groups, and shape their strategies. This continued ignorance of the critical work we do to support some of the State’s most vulnerable and at-risk people is disheartening and shows continued systematic racism within Government, with an apparent distrust of Aboriginal Controlled Organisations to manage services for Aboriginal people.”

Ms. Martin emphasised concerns about non-Aboriginal organisations receiving funding to deliver services to Aboriginal people. “I am particularly concerned that there has been limited consideration of the demand for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to provide services to Aboriginal people, and instead a preference for non-Aboriginal organisations to receive that funding, despite not being Aboriginal controlled and often without an understanding of the particular culture, history and trauma of the Aboriginal people in the regions they operate.”

The growing disparity in demand for high-quality legal services in regional and remote Western Australia and the service gaps created by the State Government’s refusal to make long-term funding commitments to specialist Family Violence Prevention providers will only risk more harm to the communities who cannot be reached, or who only have access to culturally un-safe services.

“The barriers faced by Aboriginal people in accessing legal assistance and the justice system generally are well-established,” Ms. Martin said. “Lack of cultural competency and mistrust of mainstream legal services and their inability to respect the needs of Aboriginal women are issues that will not be resolved by throwing more funding at non-Aboriginal organisations.”

Ms. Martin urged the State Government to make long-term funding commitments to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services in WA, to provide the kind of steady income needed for the services to focus on improving and expanding service delivery across the state. “We look forward to seeing what investment the State Government makes in ensuring the sustainability of the service providers, and its commitment to improving outcomes for Aboriginal people, in the September State Budget,” she said.

The following statement has been released from the Department of Health.

AFLS response to Government plan to combat family & domestic violence in WA

Help stop the spread of COVID-19

We can’t see COVID-19 but it effects everybody.

We are still providing legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence in regional Western Australia amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But our procedures have changed to keep everyone healthy and safe.
From Monday 18 May our Doors will be open for face to face appointments.


We support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of family and sexual violence through community education, early intervention and legal advocacy.


We provide legal and support services for all Aboriginal people who have experienced family violence or sexual assault.

Family Law

We can assist people with their family law matters when there are children involved. We represent clients in the Family Court WA, and help clients work out parenting agreements. We focus on what is best for the children.

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Child Protection

We assist people dealing with the Department of Child Protection and Family Support in childcare and protection matters. We can help you to talk to the Department about children remaining safely in your care.

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Criminal Injury Compensation

Eligibility advice for criminal injuries compensation, including for injuries, medical expenses and lost income. We assist with applications, and helping to obtain documents such as medical reports.

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Family Violence Restraining Orders

We help people who have been hurt by partners or family members. We can assist in applications for Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVROs) and will apply to the Court for an interim restraining order.

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Non-Legal Support

We provide non-legal support and case management in the form of community education and engagement, crisis intervention and client referrals. We can advocate for clients, and help in safety planning for families.

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Social Support

Our social workers provide culturally-safe and trauma-informed approaches. They help clients through the demands of their legal process, develop safety strategies, and build social and emotional wellbeing.

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“Thank you AFLS for your presentation to our nursing team. We continue to use your valuable resources and look forward to working with you again.”


Stronger Together

We encourage all Aboriginal people concerned about Family Violence to join our organisation. Our members are drawn from the six regions in which we operate, and also include Perth. You need to be at least 18 years of age to become a member.

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Ochre Ribbon

Violence within Aboriginal communities against women, children and men has increased to alarming levels. The Ochre Ribbon Campaign highlights the need to stop this violence, and works to strengthen advances in prevention initiatives from other agencies and campaigns.

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