Balit Ngulu

Balit Ngulu is a specialised youth program within the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) dedicated to providing legal assistance and representation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Balit Ngulu means ‘Strong Voice’ in Wurundjeri language. Balit Ngulu was established to ensure that young people had access to culturally appropriate legal representation.   

 

What we offer:

We provide holistic support and case management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and children that come into contact with the Justice System.

Balit Ngulu aims to provide legal advice and assistance in the areas of youth justice, to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander youth across Melbourne and Greater Shepparton. 

Download our information flyer by clicking here.

What does Balit Ngulu aim to achieve:

 

Balit Ngulu strives to:

Promote social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth;

Promote the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to empowerment, identity and culture

Ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth enjoy their rights, are aware of their responsibilities under the law and have access to appropriate advice, assistance and representation;

Reduce the disproportionate involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in the criminal justice and child protection systems; and

Promote the review of legislation and other practices which discriminate against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

What does Balit Ngulu assist with? 


Youth Justice – 
Balit Ngulu provides youth justice assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who have been charged with summary and indictable offences. Balit Ngulu has a strong focus on diverting young people from the justice system whilst supporting their empowerment and resilience. 

Our model:


The service design model encompasses 2 streams of support;

Lawyer — High quality legal advice, assistance and representation to ensure young people are adequately and independently represented to facilitate just outcomes.

Youth Support Officer— Culturally Safe Holistic support and case management to ensure the young person feels seen, heard, connected and has a positive plan forward. 

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact us using the form provided if you require assistance, and if your matter is urgent call 1800 064 865.

To determine eligibility VALS will:

  • enquire as to the Aboriginality of the client;
  • enquire as to perceived or actual conflict of interest;
  • enquire as to compliance with the Means Test;
  • consider the merit of the client’s matter.

Aboriginality
The first time someone uses VALS they must provide proof of their Aboriginality using the Confirmation of Aboriginality Form. This form must be signed and sealed by the Officer Bearers of a recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation.

Conflict
VALS must not decline to provide assistance to an eligible person, group or body on the grounds that the other party to the matter is an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. In circumstances where the relationship between the parties to a case would result in a conflict of interest, that conflict must be managed in accordance with the Victorian Legal Practice requirements and Policy Direction 9 – “Managing Conflicts of Interest” – of the Attorney-General’s Department Policy Directions for the Delivery of Legal Aid Services to Indigenous Australians (2008).

VALS will not act if a conflict of interest exists. A conflict of interest may be an ‘actual’ conflict of interest or a ‘perceived’ conflict of interest. A conflict of interest can involve:

  • Clients who have different interests, such as VALS may have advised or acted for person “A” (old client) who has an interest that conflicts with person “B” (intended new client).
  • Clients and VALS, such as a VALS staff member or Board Member has an interest that conflicts with an intended new client. Conflicts involving client-provider relationships are:
    •  An owner, director, manager, employee, contractor or agent of VALS and/or;
    • An employee of the Department; and/or
    • A close relative (spouse, de facto, parent, sibling or child) of any of the above.

VALS provides assistance on a first in best dressed basis (i.e. provide direct assistance to the party who approaches VALS first). VALS will refer the other party to another legal service provider or “brief out” the client to a private lawyer (subject to the client meeting the requirements for brief outs). Where appropriate, VALS may act for one client and provide assistance by brief out to the other.

Means Test
Where a person seeks casework assistance, VALS must ensure that applicants satisfy the Means Testing provisions of the Policy Directions.

VALS must ensure that all applicants for legal casework assistance satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

  • Under 18 years of age;
  • Main source of income comes from Community Development Employment Projects; (CDEP) participant wages or Centrelink (or equivalent) benefits; or
  • Gross household income is under $52,000 per annum.

Note: Household income includes the income of your partner, spouse, relative including an adult child who you live with.

The Means Test will be administered in two parts:

Part A: Requires the completion of a small number of questions relating to the applicant’s personal circumstances and income level.

Part B: Is required where applicants do not satisfy the criteria in Part A. It requires more detail about the applicant’s income, assets, employment status and number of dependents.

Merit Test
Discretion will be used to determine if a particular case has merit.