First Nations Justice
Access to justice for First Nations people is central to our work at Redfern Legal Centre (RLC).
RLC provides a priority service to First Nations people across all of our legal practice areas. We work in close collaboration with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and other local government and non-government organisations.
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Access Worker works year-round to ensure that all of RLC's legal services are accessible and culturally safe. The Access Worker also provides and reviews referrals to and from services that support First Nations people, as well as liaising with non-Indigenous service providers.
Our Health Justice Partnership co-locates lawyers at RPA Hospital and the Dental Hospital, providing free, confidential, and culturally sensitive legal advice to vulnerable patients in the health system, supporting hundreds of First Nations people each year who would not otherwise access legal help.
We help with legal issues including:
- preventing children from being removed from families
- mediating with service providers and the court system, and engaging in community outreach
- ensuring public housing tenants can get urgent health-harming home repairs addressed
- advising people experiencing family violence or elder abuse
- assisting people struggling with fines and debts, including COVID-19 fines
- reducing the escalation of child protection issues, ensuring First Nations families can stay together
- supporting First Nations clients in the criminal justice system to have a voice.
First Nations Solicitor
In May 2022, RLC employed a First Nations Solicitor, Gail, Brennon, to expand our capacity to provide legal services to First Nations clients and to achieve systemic change in areas affecting First Nations communities.
The role of this position is to:
- Consult and engage with local Aboriginal organisations, community and relevant external organisations to identify areas of unmet legal need for First Nations people
- Assist to design and develop a new First Nations Justice Practice that responds to that need, in partnership with Aboriginal community controlled organisations, and
- Undertake a combination of advice, casework, stakeholder engagement, community legal education and law reform activities to work towards addressing identified legal need issues.
RLC works closely with organisations including Aboriginal Legal Service (ACT/NSW), RedLink, WEAVE, Lou’s Place, Women’s and Girl’s Emergency Centre, Aboriginal Medical Service, and Nelly’s Healing Centre. Together, we work to Close the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW.
Advancing First Nations Justice
Ten ways RLC has worked to increase access to justice for First Nations people in 2020-21:
- Endorsed the Uluru Statement and wrote submissions to Government calling for a First Nations Voice in the Australian parliament.
- Worked together with Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations on law reform and community legal education.
- Announced RLC's First Nations Cadetship to support First Nations law students.
- Recruited additional First Nations people to our team. Over 10% of our staff are First Nations people. The Chair of the RLC Board is also a proud Koori man.
- Announced a new First Nations Justice Unit.
- Worked with Aboriginal-led organisations to create a public conversation about over-policing and deaths in custody.
- Worked with media and community to raise awareness about unjust policing of First Nations communities in relation to strip searches and COVID-19 fines
- Endorsed a campaign calling for affordable housing for First Nations people
- Continued awareness-raising about the Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme. RLC assisted three clients to obtain a combined total of $116,147 compensation under the scheme in 2020-21.
- Worked with RLC staff and Reconciliation Australia on our new Reconciliation Action Plan.
RLC works closely with local government and non-government organisations including RedLink, WEAVE, Lou’s Place, Women’s and Girl’s Emergency Centre, Aboriginal Medical Service, and Nelly’s Healing Centre. Together, we work to Close the Gap for First Nations people in NSW.