Legal assistance in WA

Contributed by PaulSheiner and KelsiForrest and current to 27 July 2018


The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (Inc) – often abbreviated to ALSWA or ALS – was established in 1973. ALSWA is the largest Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander community-based organisation in Australia, and provides the following services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who live in Western Australia:
  • Legal advice and assistance in some criminal law matters;
  • Legal advice and assistance in some family law matters;
  • Legal advice and assistance in some civil law matters;
  • Legal advice and assistance in some inquests;
  • Legal advice and assistance in human rights matters, such as racial discrimination;
  • Help and support for women;
  • Help and support for prisoners;
  • Maintains offices in Perth, Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Geraldton, Halls Creek, Kalgoorlie, Kununurra, Laverton, Meekatharra, Newman, Northam, Roebourne and South Hedland (see contact details at the end of this chapter);
  • Conducts presentations for community groups about what the law is and how it works, on different topics such as family law and domestic violence;
  • Attends community functions, and provides pamphlets and information about legal matters;
  • Meets with and provides input to organisations that can affect the lives of the community, such as the Family Court, the Children’s Court and the Child Support Agency;
  • provides written and oral submissions to both the State and Federal Governments on matters of importance to the community; and
  • Talks to the media about matters of importance to the community.
ALSWA also has a website containing information about ALSWA and copies of pamphlets. The address is ALSWA no longer does native title matters.

ALSWA’s legal practitioners include both lawyers and court officers. Court officers are Aboriginal individuals authorised under Section 48 of the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 (WA) to give legal advice to Aboriginal clients and to represent them in court. Where necessary, a court officer will refer the client’s matter to an ALSWA lawyer.

Legal Aid WA (LAWA) is a mainstream legal service that provides assistance to all Western Australians. LAWA and ALSWA have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at further improving the service of both organisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Department of Justice (WA)

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