NAIDOC 2016 Celebrations

Happy NAIDOC 2016

A fantastic week ahead celebrating the rich and diverse history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across the nation.

This year’s theme, Songlines – The living narrative of our nation.

Once again the ATSILS team will be out and about at various events across the state this NAIDOC Week engaging with community and celebrating the rich and diverse culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across this great state. Keep and eye out for the team and our giveaways at various Marches, Family Fun Days and Deadly Day Out’s.

Check out the ‪#‎NAIDOC2016‬ events happening in your area here:

Have a deadly week 🙂

The Change the Record Coalition today welcomed a renewed discussion on reducing imprisonment for fine default, but called for all parties to rethink their proposed policy approach.

The Australian Labor Party yesterday released a policy proposal aimed at reducing imprisonment due to fine default through reform of the fine recovery process. The ALP policy proposes that the States and Territories are able to use the tax and social security system to recover unpaid fines through a Fine Enforcement Collection Scheme. This is similar to models that have previously been proposed by the Federal Coalition and WA Governments.

CTR Co-Chair Antoinette Braybrook said, “We are supportive of the principle of reforming the fine recovery process to reduce the unnecessary incarceration of our peoples – but we need to know more detail.”

“Our communities are more likely to experience disadvantage as a result of a number of factors including intergenerational trauma, family violence, homelessness, unemployment, disability, mental health issues or substance addiction”.

“We have significant concerns about the social security system being used to compulsorily enforce payment of fines by these vulnerable people” said Ms Braybrook.

The current ALP proposal does not outline how it will accommodate disadvantaged people who need assistance and support to address the underlying factors that have resulted in the inability to pay the fine.

Fellow Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “To avoid pushing vulnerable people further into poverty, we recommend all parties commit to work with the States and Territories to implement Work and Development Order schemes, modelled on the effective NSW approach. Fine recovery schemes should as be used as a matter of last resort.”

“All parties should also undertake significant consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations and the legal sector, to ensure unanticipated negative consequences are avoided, such as disproportionate impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other marginalised groups.”

“We call on all parties to commit to abolish fine-default imprisonment as soon as possible, and adopt policy approaches that will support, rather than punish, our most vulnerable people.”

“We stand ready to work in partnership with government to develop appropriate and effective reform options” said Mr Duffy.

The Change the Record Coalition recommends all governments:

  • Commit to abolish fine-default imprisonment as soon as possible;
  • Introduce Work and Development order schemes, modelled on the effective NSW approach;
  • Ensure the adequate provision of gender and culturally relevant early intervention and diversion programs, to address the current over-imprisonment of Aboriginal women and girls;
  • Establish a legislative presumption against arresting victims of domestic violence at time of police intervention for outstanding unrelated charges, such as fine default; and
  • Retract any plans to introduce a compulsory scheme whereby outstanding fines may be deducted from social security payments because such a scheme will further seriously disadvantage vulnerable Aboriginal people


View Media Release:


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd (ATSILS) welcomes the news announced today by the Australian Labor Party that should they win government, they would reverse the 24 million dollar cuts announced by the Federal Government due to begin on July 1 this year.

Shane Duffy, CEO of ATSILS said “In Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be imprisoned at an unacceptable rate and continue to be over represented in the child protection system. The ongoing erosion of funding for culturally responsive frontline legal services has been a significant contributing factor to this issue.” “When the most vulnerable in the community don’t have access to justice or are unable to access adequate legal representation before the courts, they are more likely to end up in prison at far greater cost to the community and the tax payer. An economic value study by The Law Council of Australia showed that every dollar invested in legal assistance would result in an $18 dollar saving downstream to the community.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people constitute less than 4% of the state’s population however they account for nearly 30% of Queensland’s prison population and nearly 50% of the child protection system.

Mr. Duffy said, “This broken record of statistics obviously reflects the current need put on our services due to inadequate funding levels which in turn undermine our ability to come anywhere near meeting the growing demand.”

Shortsighted tough on crime approaches, coupled with the chronic underfunding of the legal assistance sector & ATSILS to the tune of 200 million dollars in figures released by the (Australian Productivity Commission), has been a recipe for disaster and has left Queensland grappling with a record prison population that is economically unsustainable.

“While we welcome this latest commitment by the Labor Party, we call on all parties to commit to the reversal of these cuts. Further, we encourage all parties to increase investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled legal services such as ATSILS and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, to better reflect need and the reality we are dealing with,” Mr Duffy said.

This call was echoed in yesterday’s landmark “Redfern Statement”, where the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service in conjunction with a number of other peak bodies, and over 55 mainstream NonGovernment Organisations including the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Medical Association, called for action in addressing Indigenous disadvantage based on improved relationships with government.

Read Full Media Release Here:


Today we stand by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders as they call on all parties to tackle inequality and disadvantage facing Australia’s First People as a federal election priority.

It is time that action is taken on meaningful engagement, health, justice, preventing violence, early childhood and disability. These must be addressed as a matter of national priority and urgency.

The next Federal Government has an unprecedented nation-building opportunity to meaningfully address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage.

It is time that Aboriginal voices are heard and respected. It is time for action.

Read the full statement here:

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Eddie Koiki Mabo


Eddie Koiki Mabo was a courageous man who took on the crown & over-turned more than two centuries of legal fiction, the concept of ‘terra nullius’. To end National Reconciliation Week we honour his legacy of truth & justice and advancement of human rights. He brought us a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

We are here & always have been.



This Reconciliation week we encourage all to get a deeper understanding of the truth of our Nation’s history and walk together committing to a future of fairness and justice for all.

In this spirit we recommend you take a look and show your support for these important campaigns:

Change the Record

Legal Aid Matters

Amnesty International Australia


A Human Rights Act for Queensland




National Sorry Day 2016

At ATSILS we honour the resilience and determination of the Stolen Generations this Sorry Day and every day. In the work we do, we see the ongoing impacts of such policies and are particularly mindful of the challenges faced by many of our people dealing with the effects of inter-generational trauma and scarring.

We stand with the Stolen Generations and are committed to advancing and protecting their legal and human rights. We will continue to push hard for reform in laws, policies and practices that discriminate and adversely impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Learn More:
Recommendations: Bringing them home: The ‘Stolen Children’ report (1997) –

Learn more about the Stolen Generations and the Healing journey atHealing Foundation

Read Aunty Flo Watson’s story – Getting to the Heart of Sorry Day

Recognise Reconciliation Australia Reconciliation Queensland Inc


Legal Aid Matters Campaign45,000 people faced courts alone due to legal aid crisis

New national campaign launched at start of Law Week aimed at ensuring the next Federal Government responds decisively to the funding crisis.

The campaign will see lawyers and concerned organisations rally and attend events in major cities around Australia.

At least 45,000 Australians have been forced to represent themselves in court, often up against powerful and well-funded legal teams, due to the crisis in legal aid that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars ripped from these vital services.

Read Media Release:…/1629—-45000-people-fa…

Sign the petition – Let our politicians know that legal aid matters to you!

shane_CTRThe Change the Record (CTR) Coalition this morning expressed concern at the 2016 Federal Budget’s overall lack of focus on the Indigenous sector and investment in Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander communities.

CTR Co-Chair Shane Duffy said “We are extremely disappointed that the Turnbull Government’s Budget fails to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice issues, including the high rates of violence being experienced by Aboriginal women and children, and skyrocketing rates of incarceration of our peoples.”

“The Federal Budget provides a roadmap of Government priorities, and we are deeply concerned that in this Budget Aboriginal justice issues appear to have been forgotten by the Turnbull Government” said Mr Duffy.
View CTR Media Release: 


Change the Record

shane_DuffyWELL WORTH A LISTEN: A 7 minute insight from our CEO & Change The Record Co-Chair Shane Duffy highlighting the burning issues driving incarceration rates and what’s needed to create smarter justice and safer communities.

The Change The Record Coalition is a group of key organisations who have come together and developed a concrete plan for Federal, State and Territory Governments to address soaring Aboriginal imprisonment rates and high levels of experienced violence within a generation.

Listen Here:…/

View the Plan: “Blueprint for Change”:

Change The Record – Steering Committee: