Australian Institute of Criminology

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Legal services

The Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales' Access to justice and legal needs project identified a number of barriers for Indigenous people in dealing with the justice system, including:

  • long-term mistrust of the legal system;
  • the formality and intimidating nature of the system and associated services;
  • a lack of cultural awareness and insensitivity amongst legal providers;
  • an under-representation of Indigenous Australians in the employ of these services;
  • perception of police discrimination in relation to referrals to diversion programs;
  • lack of accessibility of the Anti Discrimination Board and HREOC for discrimination complaints;
  • perceived reluctance by police to initiate applications for Apprehended Violence Orders in domestic violence situations;
  • perceived problematic attitude of magistrates to domestic violence situations;
  • inappropriateness of Family Court based mediation and conciliation in cases involving domestic violence;
  • confusion about processes within government authorities and complaint handling bodies; and
  • lack of access and information.

While these are not all exclusive to Indigenous communities, they can be exacerbated by distance and experience.

Some of the legal services developed to help overcome these barriers include:

Other resources