The Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities (CLSAC) is an example of a mainstream, government-funded service consciously attempting to enact policy, human rights instruments and evidence for best practice in meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It has been invited by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to do more work together
Hence the authors of this report sought to understand (1) how a mainstream government service works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; (2) how capacities are built within the service to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and develop cultural competencies of other staff; and (3) how a government legal service impacts on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with access to justice being a determinant of health and wellbeing.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prisons and in communities in NSW will benefit if the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities (CLSAC) NSW can work across sectors to include access to social and emotional wellbeing support, given its connection to people with urgent, complex and/or unmet legal needs.
- The communities and prisons to which CLSAC delivers services are diverse. Each prison has distinct operating procedures, staffing and numbers. Each community has different histories, different languages, different cultural practices, different structures and different services available.
- Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in and leaving custody are different to non-Indigenous women because almost all of the women have multiple and highly complex needs, with high prevalence of trauma and family violence experiences, mental health issues and cognitive impairment
The learnings from this CLSAC evaluation must be shared with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their organisations, for their benefit and to inform partnerships with Legal Aid services. As CLSAC develops, it must take action to upskill the younger generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in communities about civil law and how CLSAC operates, to ensure it continues beyond personal relationships, and to reach more people.