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Aboriginal Legal Service celebrates 50th anniversary

The Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) will honour 50 years of service and activism for the rights of Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT with prominent Elders, community members, stakeholders and supporters at a gala dinner in Sydney tonight.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the creation of the Aboriginal Legal Service marked the beginning of a voice for justice and an important movement for Aboriginal people and communities.

“The Aboriginal Legal Service was Australia’s first free and first community controlled legal assistance service, setting the model for Aboriginal legal services across the country,” Mr Speakman said.

“The ALS has grown from a single shop-front in Redfern in 1970 with 550 clients in its first year, to supporting more than 23,000 clients and providing over 84,000 individualised services in 2020-21.

“The ALS makes an impact every day in direct legal support and representation, as well as engaging in important law reform work. It is also a fearless, tireless and determined advocate for justice and equity for the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin acknowledged and paid homage to the many Aboriginal women and men who fought for the rights of Aboriginal people including Paul Coe, Isabel Coe, Gary Foley, Billy Craigie, Lyn Craigie, Gary Williams, Bronwyn Penrith, Tony Coorey, and James Wedge.

“The story and the strength of the Aboriginal Legal Service's leadership and commitment to serving justice for Aboriginal people over half a century is inspiring,” Mr Franklin said.

“The Aboriginal Legal Service has fought for the rights of Aboriginal people across NSW for over half a century. A golden anniversary is a major milestone and I recognise the ongoing need for the Aboriginal Legal Service and its passionate advocacy.”

The Aboriginal Legal Service has a network of 24 offices across NSW and the ACT and conducts legal work in criminal law, children’s care, and protection and family law. The Aboriginal Legal Service also supports the development of wraparound programs and undertakes broader policy and law reform work.

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