Having advocated strongly for diversionary programs for our young people, the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) welcomes the announcement that it will play a vital role in delivering a court-based program in Perth, designed to reduce offending by young Aboriginal people.
State funding for this program will enable ALSWA to employ two Aboriginal diversion officers/social workers who will be based at the Children’s Court in Perth, an initiative that is the latest recipient of a Youth Justice Innovation Fund grant administered by the Youth Justice Board.
“Without diversionary programs, the situation for many of our young people involved in the criminal justice system looks extremely bleak. Not only is the young person affected, but also their families, their schooling, employment and future. ALSWA now has the capacity to focus more on breaking the cycle of re-offending through this landmark program” said Mr. Eggington.
Earlier today, WA Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis announced that ALSWA will receive $520,000 over two years to support and mentor young Aboriginal people appearing before the Children’s Court of Western Australia.
“Our Court Officers and lawyers are inundated with court matters on a daily basis. Young people turn up to court, their case is heard and they leave, either by the front door of the court or via transport back to detention. This is such a welcomed addition to ALSWA’s work and also marks the beginnings of a working relationship between the State and our organisation, which receives its funding through the Commonwealth” said the CEO.
ALSWA also welcomed comments by the Minister, who said: “Partnering and working with Aboriginal organisations is essential so that we can address the rate of Aboriginal incarceration. We will get a better result by supporting the Aboriginal community to deliver Aboriginal-led initiatives.”
“I am confident that the voice of our communities and organisations is now being heard and there is a greater understanding about the important role that our people will play in collaboratively addressing some of the complex issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this state” said Mr. Eggington.
A team of highly experienced and respected Community members from throughout WA have formed the newly elected Executive Committee of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA).
Consisting of eight members, the Committee held their inaugural meeting in Perth this week to discuss the complex issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the justice system and strategies for moving forward.
ALSWA CEO Dennis Eggington said the meeting was extremely productive and significant because it marked the Committee moving from sixteen members to eight. “This reduction marks our commitment to even better governance processes and because it is more cost effective, we will have more, much needed resources for our frontline services” said Mr. Eggington.
The Executive Committee will meet quarterly and their expertise and input will ensure that the legal needs of Community members are addressed statewide.
“Our committee play a major role in guiding our operational procedures, organisational functions and policy direction, and because they each have been voted in by their local Community members, we can be assured that they will provide a strong voice for our people. We are working in challenging times, but it is extremely reassuring to work alongside such dedicated and committed people who share ALSWA’s vision for a strong future in continuing to play a vital and unique role in this state’s justice system” said Mr. Eggington.