VALS publishes research reports, authors submissions to government and engages in policy analysis for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Victoria and the broader community. You will find our recent publications here.

Email vals@vals.org.au if your are trying to identify a specific legacy document or search the website using the search tool found on this page.

Submission to Inquiry into Children of Imprisoned Parents

PAEC Covid-19 Inquiry submission

Submission to the Consultation on RACGP Standards for Health Services in Australian Prisons

VALS Submission on the Crimes Amendment (Remissions of Sentences) Bill 2021

VALS Submission to the Disability Act Review 2021

Mental Health and Wellbeing Act Consultation – VALS Submission – August 2021

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System Supplementary Submission Final

Draft National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 submission

VALS Submission on the National Anti-Racism Framework – February 2022

Submission on Victoria’s Anti-Racism Strategy – December 2021

Submission to the Prison Culture Review – December 2021

Submission to the Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice System – September 2021

VALS Submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission Project – Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences

Submission to the inquiry into the use of cannabis in Victoria

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service – Department of Premier and Cabinet Consultation on Victorian Youth Strategy 

Sentencing Act Reform Project

VALS – Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry into Spent Convictions Scheme July 2019

VALS Submission to CCYP Inquiry – Our Youth Our Way – November 2019

VALS submission to the COAG Working Group on the Age of Criminal Responsibility – February 2020

VALS Police Complaints Submission IBAC Committee 2017

VLA VALS Joint Submission – Anti-Vilification Inquiry – 31 January 2020

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – VALS Submission 

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.