- In Reconciliation Action week 2020, Legal Aid New South Wales was proud to launch a set of Best Practice Standards for Representing Aboriginal Clients within the Criminal Law, Family Law and Civil Law systems in New South Wales.
- The Best Practice Standards provide practical information and guidance to solicitors on issues that directly impact the representation of Aboriginal people.
- The resource is an important starting point in the continuous journey of cultural competency – something that is essential to the effective representation of Aboriginal clients.
As an organisation, Legal Aid NSW has been providing legal services to Aboriginal people and communities for just over 40 years, and today Aboriginal people represent 15.7 per cent of all case and in-house duty services. Within this, the delivery of legal representation services to Aboriginal people and communities is complicated by the diversity of those communities and the breadth of their legal needs. Given this significant proportion of our client base, and the complexity of the work involved, we are committed to providing best practice legal representation to Aboriginal clients across our services.
Over the last 40 years, we have seen many passionate and committed practitioners do their absolute best to represent the needs of our clients – practitioners whose overriding commitment to social justice has seen them fight for the rights of their Aboriginal clients. We have also heard communities and clients say things like: ‘the legal system does not work for me, in fact it often works against me’ or ‘my lawyer did not understand me or my culture’ or ‘I do not understand the jargon or the intent of this system’.
The Legal Aid NSW Aboriginal Services Branch has brought together its cultural and community expertise with the subject matter experts in our practice and policy areas, along with our key partners at the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT and the Aboriginal Secretariat for Out of Home Care community organisations, to provide the Best Practice Standards for Representing Aboriginal Clients, launched during Reconciliation Week this year.