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Canberra Community Law

Posted on 7 July 2021

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Canberra Community Law

Dhurrawang is a legal service developed to provide individually tailored and culturally sensitive legal advice and representation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the ACT in the following areas of law – Housing and Homelessness, Social Security, Human Rights and Race Discrimination. The Dhurrawang team is comprised of one Aboriginal lawyer, one non-Aboriginal lawyer and one Aboriginal paralegal.

Image: Dhurrawang Aboriginal Human Rights Program
We Acknowledge Wiradjuri artist Leanne Pope for use of her artwork ‘Fresh life after rain’ 2017 for our identifier, marketing and promotional materials.

Canberra Community Law (CCL) through its Dhurrawang Aboriginal Human Rights Program has been able to establish and deliver a pilot project designed to meet the specific legal needs of Aboriginal detainees in the Alexander Machonochie Centre (AMC).

Dhurrawang is a legal service developed to provide individually tailored and culturally sensitive legal advice and representation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the ACT in the following areas of law – Housing and Homelessness, Social Security, Human Rights and Race Discrimination. The Dhurrawang team is comprised of one Aboriginal lawyer, one non-Aboriginal lawyer and one Aboriginal paralegal.

As part of the pilot, we have been able to deliver outreach information sessions to senior officials within AMC and to sentence management officers; to educate and inform them about the services and support we can offer Aboriginal detainees throughout their incarceration cycle. We have  established a direct referral pathway for detainees in need of advice or assistance.

In collaboration with the AMC, CCL has ensured that the service can be easily identified by Aboriginal detainees, so that they have free telephone access to the service. In addition, Canberra Community Law is currently working closely with AMC to provide plain English information sheets and information sessions directly to detainees.

Feedback from the AMC and detainees accessing the service has been very positive. The Dhurrawang AMC Outreach has facilitated CCL engagement with detainees, who are regularly contacting them for legal assistance in a range of matters. Where a detainee’s legal problem is outside the scope of their expertise, CCL is able to facilitate a warm referral to other community legal services, to minimize gaps in addressing their legal need.