Twenty-six legal, health and not for profit bodies have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, urging him to take "critical leadership" and reverse funding cuts to Aboriginal legal services. Bodies such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS), its peak body National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), Community Legal Centres (CLCs) and the Legal Aid Commissions (LAC) are facing significant funding cuts in the next financial year, with no certainty about their futures until the May budget. The letter, signed by groups like Amnesty International Australia, Human Rights Law Centre and the Law Council of Australia, says that the organisations have already had to make difficult decisions to withdraw or reduce services due to the funding uncertainty. "These cuts will make a bad situation worse as more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be unrepresented in courts and unable to access legal assistance, including family and civil law services," the letter said.
‘PM for Aboriginal Affairs’ slashes millions from indigenous programs
The Aboriginal Legal Service is among the organisations bracing for significant funding cuts.