The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Co-operative Limited (VALS) was established as a community controlled Co-operative Society in 1973. VALS plays an important role in providing referrals, advice/information, duty work or case work assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the State of Victoria. Solicitors at VALS specialise in one of three areas of law, being Criminal Law, Family Law and Civil Law.
VALS maintains a strong client service focus which is achieved through the role of Client Service Officers (CSOs) who act as a bridge between the legal system and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. VALS is actively involved in community education, research and advocacy around law reform and policy development. VALS strives to:
- Promote social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- Promote the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to empowerment, identity and culture;
- Ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 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 peoples in the criminal justice system; and
- Promote the review of legislation and other practices which discriminate against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
More than just a legal service
We operate a unique service delivery model where our clients are supported by Client Service Officers (CSOs) across the state. These CSOs bridge the gap between the community and our legal practitioners.
They provide localised support and referrals to community services and mainstream agencies, and work with clients to help with initial information, minor assistance such as helping with phone calls or letters, advocacy to other services, referrals, and assistance to attend court. Clients are also supported by specialised Family Violence CSOs who provide holistic wrap-around support that enhances the outcomes we’re seeking.