During NAIDOC week, the Human Rights Law Centre is joining the National Peak Body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) to call on the Federal Government to commit to retaining the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program (ILAP).
In the Federal Budget 2019-20, the Government announced that from 2020 funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services would be mainstreamed into a national mechanism, abolishing the ILAP.
“At a time when we are the most incarcerated people in the world, there is clear, demonstrated support for the Government to maintain its commitment to self-determined ATSILS by retaining the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program,” said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
Over 100 legal, health, disability, social justice and human rights organisations are behind the call to retain the ILAP, signing an open letter to the Federal Government on the issue.
Ruth Barson, a Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the Government should show its support for self-determination and the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to be in control.
“The Morrison Government should not walk away from the stand-alone funding program designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal organisations to address disadvantage. Community controlled services are critical to ending racial discrimination. We must stand together to ensure ATSILS can continue to provide vital legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Ms Barson.
These calls are supported by a recent independent review of ILAP that recommended the Commonwealth funding to be delivered through a standalone and specific program that directly funds ATSILS and NATSILS.
Michelle Bennett, Communications Director, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519