The Abbott Government is set to announce the defunding of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS), and of all Law Reform and Policy Officer positions within each State and Territory based ATSILS, in order to make an annual saving of $3m from the 2014-2015 financial year onwards.
NATSILS said the funding cuts will mean that even more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will not be able to access essential legal services and will further entrench Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as second class citizens in their own country.
NATSILS Chairperson, Shane Duffy, said that at a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates are at an alarming high, and only continue to rise, defunding services such as ATSILS and its national peak body is short sighted.
“Without a national peak body and state based law reform and policy officers, governments around Australia will have no access to informed, evidenced based frontline advice in regards to the effectiveness of the justice system,” Mr Duffy said.
You can access the media release on the NATSILS website.