The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service needs to be able to help our communities when and where they need it. A key part of our vision has been our Aboriginal Justice Hubs, our plan to expand our local office network, because we’re at our best when our communities can self-determine the services they need.
Today, the Victorian Government announced a significant investment in our Aboriginal Justice Hubs, committing $7.1 million over the next 2 years to help us open hubs in Aboriginal communities across Victoria.
Investing in Aboriginal legal services is vital to address the overrepresentation of our people in the legal system. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most overincarcerated peoples on earth. Yoorrook has heard significant evidence in recent weeks about the continuing racism that our people face in the legal system.
In the last year we have opened new offices in Warrnambool and Bendigo, thanks to funding from the Victorian Government. These offices have already allowed us to help many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in these communities and contribute to great outcomes for them and their families.
We look forward to working with the Victorian Government on delivering our hubs and committing to recurrent funding for our full Aboriginal Justice Hubs model so that we are always able to help our communities when and where they need it.
Quotes Attributable to Nerita Waight, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service:
“It is good to see the Victorian Government investing in Aboriginal legal services in a significant way. Helping our people engage with the legal system must be a prerequisite for the transformational change that is being sought through the Treaty process.”
“This funding will mean more VALS offices in communities across Victoria. It will mean there will be more of our lawyers and community support staff to help our people when and where they need it.”
“We want to build VALS so that we can support all of our people who want our support. We are not there yet, but this is an important investment to kickstart the expansion of our Aboriginal Justice Hubs.”
“I thank the Attorney-General, Jaclyn Symes, for her commitment to helping find this funding for VALS as well her passion for Aboriginal justice issues.”