Following reports that the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) was preparing to withdraw services from Karratha and Roebourne courts, ALSWA is now in a position to confirm that its servicing of these courts, will not cease.
ALSWA CEO Dennis Eggington said that the initial decision to withdraw services was an extremely difficult call to make. “We are well aware of the vital role that we play in providing a quality legal service for our people across the state and the extra pressure that would be placed on other service providers by cutting our service. Any reduction in services, whether it be in Perth or regional WA, is never easy to contemplate” said Mr. Eggington.
Following discussions with the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department which is ALSWA’s sole funder, it has now been determined that reducing services in this area will not proceed. “The Court lists in the Karratha Court are phenomenal, with up to 120 people appearing each day. The workloads faced by ALSWA lawyers are extremely onerous, but following discussions with the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, ALSWA is now in a position to commit additional resources to appear for our clients” said Mr. Eggington.
“Whilst we have committed these extra resources to ensure that our clients receive professional and much needed legal representation, this will not resolve the ever increasing court numbers in the Pilbara region” said the CEO.
“ALSWA calls on the State Government to address the current levels of Aboriginal people coming into contact with the criminal justice system, in the Pilbara. With our own resources, and the resources of other agencies, stretched to the limit, including court services, it is inevitable that if nothing is done, the justice system in the Pilbara will collapse”.