Family Matters Report 2017: Calls for urgent action on the unacceptable rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed.

Family Matters Report 2017: Without urgent action the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from family will triple in the next 20 years

Download the Family Matters Report 2017

Family Matters Report 2017

Family Matter Media Release

The rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are removed from their families is an escalating national crisis.

Without immediate action from all levels of government further generations of children will be lost to their families, cultures and communities, according to a new report from the Family Matters campaign.

The report – launched at Parliament House on 29 November – reveals a shocking trend in the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are now nearly 10 times as likely to be removed from their family as non-Indigenous children – a disparity which continues to grow.

If we continue on this path, carved out by the flawed approaches of consecutive governments, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care will more than triple in the next 20 years.

“Twenty years ago, the Bringing them Home report brought public and political awareness to the destructive impact of the Stolen Generations on communities, families and children – a historical pain that has caused trauma with lasting impacts. We cannot allow the history of trauma to devastate yet another generation of our children.

“In the 20 years since Bringing them Home, and nearly 10 years since the national apology, the numbers of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care have continued to escalate.”

– Natalie Lewis, Family Matters Co-Chair

The Family Matters Report shows that only 17 per cent of the child protection budget is spent on services aimed at preventing issues for families before they develop, while the bulk of spending is invested in reacting to problems when they arise.

The Family Matters Report clearly shows we have a system that invests in failure and not success.

“Only one in every five dollars spent on child protection is invested in family supports. Supportive and preventative services – designed to build the capacity of families to care for children and allow children to thrive – are crucial to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.”

– Natalie Lewis

The Family Matters Report provides a comprehensive analysis of child protections systems in every state and territory, judged against a series of building blocks to ensuring child safety and wellbeing.

The disproportionate representation of our children, and the failure to adequately provide for their wellbeing and ensure fulfilment of their rights, are characteristics common to all jurisdictions.

“Those of us working for our communities are striving to address these fundamental system failures, but what we really need is governments to resource our vision for a better future for our children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been forthcoming with solutions to these issues for many, many years. We need to work together now to prevent another generation of children growing up separated from their family, culture and connection to country.”

– Natalie Lewis


Client Satisfaction Survey Annual Report for 2015-16

When delivering our innovative, professional and culturally competent legal services across Queensland we always seek feedback on the assistance provided to clients. Client feedback is captured periodically to ensure we are delivering quality assistance in line with needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families, and that meet the requirements of our funding body (Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department). Below are the collated responses and data analysis for our Client Satisfaction Survey  Annual Report 2015/2016.

View full report


Part A: Statistical Information


 Table 1: Summary of Client Satisfaction Surveys (2015-16)

Client Satisfaction - ATSILS Representation

Number of Clients Surveyed: 1,188              Criminal Law:    1125                      Civil Law:         21             Family Law:   42
Part A: satisfaction level of legal representation
Very satisfied 835 70.29%
More than satisfied 128 10.77%
Satisfied 216 18.18%
Unsatisfied 3 0.25%
Very unsatisfied 6 0.51%
Part B: General Observations
Was it easy to locate our office? Yes                  791 No               11     N/A          386            
How quickly seen? Quickly           909 Fairly Quickly     269 Too Slowly       10
How treated by staff? V. Well   958 Well           169 Adequately   60 Poorly    1
Comprehensible explanation? Yes           1180         No                  8                               
Satisfied with staff handling? Yes          1184                 No                4                     
Culturally sensitive? Yes          1171               No                17                       

Conclusion: An excellent outcome – with in excess of 81% of clients being either very satisfied or more than satisfied with the service provision received – with less than 1% of clients being unsatisfied.


 Table 2: Satisfaction by Remoteness Index (all law types)

Client Satisfaction by Remoteness Index

OfficeLocation VerySatisfied More thanSatisfied Satisfied Unsatisfied VeryUnsatisfied PercentageSatisfied +
Metropolitan 159 22 15 1 1 98.99%
Regional 475 80 150 2 2 99.44%
Remote 201 26 51 0 3 98.93%
Totals: 835 128 216 3 6 99.24%


Table 3: Satisfaction by Law Type

ATSILS Client Satisfaction by Legal Assistance Type

Law Type VerySatisfied More thanSatisfied Satisfied Unsatisfied VeryUnsatisfied PercentageSatisfied +
Criminal 785 117 215 3 5 99.29%
Civil 16 4 1 0 0 100%
Family 34 7 0 0 1 97.62%
Totals: 835 128 216 3 6 99.24%


Note: Office by office figures are also analysed (albeit not contained within this report)


Part B: Client Feedback (written comments – by office location)

ATSILS Service - What do our clients think?

Beenleigh Comments:-

  • Very prompt service
  • Communication was good
  • Could be better by checking that everyone has representation

Brisbane Comments:-

  • Work organisation & construction of the case defence & common knowledge
  • Very happy
  • Things we well explained
  • Has been with me from the start – without her I would be here writing toady – Power to the people
  • Lawyer was excellent in keeping me informed of all aspects of the case and provided me excellent advice and support and I am very grateful & appreciative of this support and would recommend ATSILS to any future clients.
  • Could be better with replaceable lawyers if needed

 Bundaberg Comments:-

  • Happy with my advice
  • Nat was very helpful in explaining the process to me – thanks
  • Thanks you for helping so much
  • I was impressed with service, really happy with representation – thanks you
  • All aspects of assistance was great, excellent communication
  • Looked after my best interests
  • Everything was very good
  • Good support
  • My matter was dealt with – very excellent results

Charleville / Cunnamulla / Roma Comments:-

  • It was extremely good how Solicitor kept in contact with us & was upfront form the start was really pleased with outcome
  • Very good
  • Direction given was very good
  • Happy with outcome
  • Great staff very helpful
  • Could have been better by not changing solicitors as we had to keep telling the same story (3 solicitors)
  • The contact I was very happy with
  • It is better now than it was 4 years ago
  • Had a good solicitor
  • Happy with outcome and Laurie representing me
  • Explained what I can’t understand
  • This was the best service I ever have had and it was because of the solicitor
  • Could have been better – office was a little untidied, paperwork could be put away

Hervey Bay Comments:-

  • Excellent communication between the service and myself – up to date, reports and info regarding the process
  • Easy to work with and kept me informed with court hearings
  • Professional in all areas
  • Went well thank you so much

Ipswich Comments:-

  • Communication was very good I knew what was happening at every step can’t thank him enough for his efforts
  • Communication was great
  • Extremely good
  • My lawyer was a straight shooter and what he says he does and he actually cares
  • Spoken to nicely & everything was explained very well
  • Solicitor was amazing, caring and gave me the time of day and made me feel at ease
  • Service was fast and explained well
  • I got the best outcome, staff was great and always been helpful
  • The way I was treated was good
  • Always go above and beyond
  • Really in touch with the family  and do all I asked thank you more than words could say
  • Very please pf outcome of court and my lawyers service
  • Could have been better – I saw [name omitted from report] for 2 minutes, I felt I wasn’t given the time of the day, I felt he was rude and felt lessor of a person compared to him

Mackay Comments:-

  • My representation was good
  • They were good in all areas
  • My completed service was great
  • I was very happy that ATSILS represented me
  • All good
  • Everything went fine
  • Representation was really good & they listened to me
  • Happy with the lot e.g. outcome and representation
  • I was happy with the solicitor who represented me
  • They were very through happy with outcome
  • Got me a good outcome
  • Everything went fine
  • My solicitor was very successful with the little information she had
  • Overall 100% great
  • Representation & explanation of charges and outcomes was good
  • Solicitor asked questions and very clear
  • Representation and explanation was very good
  • Could have been better – my solicitor was unsure and did not feel confident
  • Could have been better with a full time family lawyer it was stressful when I couldn’t get one

Maroochydore Comments:-

  • I was treated with respect and they helped me and listened to me
  • Great – keep up the good work
  • Very easy to communicate with and work with
  • Very happy with service
  • Very professional also listed to my events and delivered the same to the court
  • Very well explained for my understanding
  • Tim was fantastic in the way he handle everything on the day and the lead up Very pleased thank you so much
  • I wouldn’t go anywhere else for legal advice
  • Legends they listened to you
  • Al round very good service
  • Rod did the best he could with the charges I had
  • Very helpful with everything
  • He done everything he could & I am happy with the outcome
  • Getting charges dropped to a lesser charge. Explaining when was happening throughout the course of going to court
  • The service was great very understanding do their job to a high standard and will use them again and recommend them to other people
  • I couldn’t ask for a better solicitor 
  • She is particularly through and everything got done – team was brilliant
  • Mediation was excellent – getting somewhere there
  • My matter was such short notice – 4 days to put it together – working w/ends – the team did such a great job
  • They went the extra mile to make calls to me everyone was really considerate to my needs
  • They made sure I understood the legal jargon – I finally got a resolution
  • I felt that all the legal assistance and representation in relation to my family law matter was outstanding 
  • Very helpful and personal service I felt supported and communication was clear and upfront
  • Solicitor answered all my questions – very good explanation at what could happen and how he could help me in this situation
  • Could have been better – parking was very difficult

Murgon Comments:-

  • I thought they were helpful
  • Explained all aspects of defence well
  • Services were good
  • Staff are easy to talk to and do a very good job
  • At any time of day I was able to contact by phone or email. Made it much easier through the ordeal
  • Following up with me and leaving messages as I struggled through the last 6 months. Being available to answer phones calls / reassure on weekends and receiving written confirmation of court outcomes
  • Could have been better – I felt let down in May of this year when the [omitted] lawyer,  [name omitted from report] didn’t help me with my case re: [omitted]
  • Could have been netter – A little bit disappointed that they couldn’t attend the watch house quicker. I don’t like spending the whole day locked-up

Normanton Comments:-

  • Very good rep from the lawyer
  • First time – very good
  • Could have been better – more presence in the community

 Rockhampton Comments:-

  • Lawyers and support always there to help. There was no judgement and I am extremely happy with the outcome
  • Thanks ATSILS
  • I was very satisfied
  • Very happy for the way that ATSILS acted on my behalf very thankful and appreciated
  • Super satisfied thank you heaps
  • Communication is awesome 
  • Thanks for the advice on the warrant
  • Top efforts
  • Thanks Shayne
  • Stoked – brilliant
  • Thank ATSILS, CJG and ISL court for your help
  • Thank you helping me get my charge being dismissed
  • Thanks you for case conferencing my matters
  • Excellent communication
  • Happy with service and staff – NOT happy worth curt outcome

Southport Comments:-

  • Very satisfied
  • I will use you Aboriginal Legal Aid all the time
  • Happy with the service and outcome
  • As always very helpful
  • I was most impressed with Sunil, he was very professional and very helpful
  • They looked after me very well
  • Very happy
  • Very professional and caring explained everything in detail
  • They did everything I could have wanted and more
  • Explain things well
  • Help was very good
  • I was more than happy with the service’s received, very much appreciated
  • It was my first time going to court and my lawyer was very good and made me feel relaxed
  • As always my lawyer gives me information and legal advice I ask for. She is always supportive in any situation that I have and willing to help if she can. Always points me in the right direction
  • I was very happy that we resolved my problems

Thursday Island:-

  • Service was good
  • Very professional approach and open and easy to talk to
  • Well done keep up the good work
  • You guys are great
  • Very satisfied for the way you handle my case
  • Client service was good
  • Good at explaining the matter and outcome and clear communication
  • My first time at court and a charge was dropped to this helped me – I like that the legal service and court come to Badu
  • Everything was good and satisfied with the outcome
  • I would recommend ATSILS to all in the area
  • Good having a field office who explains to understand
  • Service was very excellent and always concerned about me
  • Could have been better – in need of an interpreter for kids
  • Could have been better – tell me what’s going on and too much court dates
  • Could have been better – May need a microphone or PA system – Magistrate couldn’t hear because of the fans

 Toowoomba / Dalby / Goondiwindi / St George / Warwick / Chinchilla Comments:-

  • Great support everything was explained
  • I am very happy I still have my licence
  • Extremely satisfied
  • You are the best
  • Good to talk to it a good system and very helpful
  • Listened to me
  • Good service
  • Extremely good communication between myself and lawyer, very helpful on all levels
  • Very good so happy with the outcome
  • Explained everything

Townsville Comments:-

  • Had an outstanding lawyer.  Professionalism really shone through. I would recommend him to anybody he has changed our lives forever we will be forever in his debt. Thank you will all our hearts.
  • Lawyer delivered a great service & he was culturally appropriate in delivering a quality service

ATSILS Corporate Plan 2015 -2017



ATSILS Corporate Plan 2015-2017

On behalf of my Board of Directors and staff, I am pleased to present our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services 2015–2017 Corporate Plan.  This Plan is integral in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd (“ATSILS”) continuing to set the standard in terms of the delivery of quality legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Queensland.

My Directors and I are particularly proud of the achievements of senior management and staff and their tireless efforts.  As the Chairperson and on behalf of our entire Board, we will continue to embrace ethical, accountable, transparent, decision-making systems, policies, practices and procedures which are crucial to our longer term strategies.

ATSILS will continue to deliver services in accordance with the Australian Government’s Indigenous Legal Assistance Program. Reflective we believe of the confidence vested in us and other stakeholders, it is very pleasing to report that our funding cycle with the Commonwealth’s Attorney-General’s Department has gone from a three-year funding cycle to a five-year funding cycle.

Such is also a great assistance when it comes to forward-planning – one of the touchstones of this, our Corporate Plan.  I take this opportunity on behalf of all at ATSILS to thank the Attorney-General and his Department in this regard.  Further, in relation to our Prisoner Throughcare Program initiatives – justice reinvestment in action – we thank the Office of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for its crucial funding support as well.

I also acknowledge the importance and significance of our collaborative arrangements with other key stakeholders in the justice system – acknowledging in particular, assistance provided to us by the Queensland Legal Aid Commission in terms of assisting our organisation with the very high costs associated with delivering crucial services in our State’s most remote regions.

ATSILS will continue to lead by example.  My Directors combine extensive cultural and business knowledge with excellent leadership skills and a deep respect for lore and culture. While our challenges are complex and often difficult, we remain focused on producing ground-breaking results that change our peoples’ lives for the better.

I also encourage our communities as well as our key government and non-government partners to embrace this Plan and actively contribute toward its successful implementation.

If you would like to access an electronic version please click here > ATSILS Corporate Plan 2015 – 2017.

Kind Regards,

Ken Georgetown
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd.