The ALS is a proud Aboriginal community organisation.
We opened our doors in 1970 in Redfern as the first Aboriginal Legal Service in Australia – that makes us over 40 years old!
We assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children through representation in court, advice and information, and referral to further support services.
But we also do things making us different from other legal service providers, like:
- We have Field Officers who live and work in their communities working hand in hand with our Lawyers as cultural translators
- Our Custody Notification Service provides early legal advice for Aboriginal people taken into police custody
- We help people apply for Work and Development Orders
- We assist people in accessing Civil law advice
- We make films, brochures and educational resources about legal information and rights and assist people through our Community Legal Education program
- If we can’t assist someone, we can usually find someone who can.
We have 23 offices and 185 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff across NSW and ACT working towards achieving justice for Aboriginal people and the community.
The ALS operates through regions covering all of NSW and ACT. The regions are called Northern Region, Western Region and Central South Eastern Region. We also have a Specialist Region.
Each Region is managed by a Regional Manager reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer.
Each Region also has a Criminal Law Principal Legal Officer reporting directly to their Regional Manager.
The Care and Protection Law Practice and Family law practice operates across all regions with the Principal Legal Officer reporting to the Regional Manager.
The ALS Executive comprises the Senior Management team of the ALS and includes the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd is a public company, limited by guarantee.
The company consists of thirty Aboriginal people from NSW and ACT who are called Company Members. There are ten Company Members from each of the three regions the ALS operates through.
Company Members represent their community to the ALS. Any Aboriginal adult of good standing in their community who has not committed a crime in five years can apply to become a member of the ALS Company. If there is more than one applicant for a vacant position, an election is held.
ALS elected Directors approve new Company Members. A Company Member’s term is three years. There is no limit to the number of three-year terms a Company Member can seek membership for.
Company Members meet at least once per year. At the Annual General Meeting, Company Members approve the
appointment of auditors, approve audited accounts and conduct general business including current and future directions of the ALS company.
Only Company Members can be elected to the ALS Board of Directors.
Board of Directors
The ALS Board of Directors is a body of members who jointly oversee the activities of the ALS Company.
There are fifteen members of the ALS Board of Directors:
- twelve Directors have voting power and are elected by Company Members (four Directors from each Region)
- two Honorary Directors have no voting power and are non-elected positions
- one Executive Director has voting power and is the Chief Executive Officer of the ALS.
To be elected as a member of the Board of Directors, the applicant must first be an ALS Company Member. Once elected, a Director serves a term of three years. There is no limit to the number of further terms a Director can seek election for. Elections for the position of Director occur every three years. The next election will be held in June 2018.
ALS Honorary Directors are not elected but have been invited by Company Members because of their significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal justice and advocacy for many years. An Honorary Director usually has relevant business and legal experience and an understanding of issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW and ACT. An Honorary Director has no voting power at Board meetings but
attends and participates in discussion.
The Company Secretary is the Research and Policy Officer of the ALS.
The Chairperson of the Board of Directors is elected by a majority vote of Directors for a three-year period. The next election will be held in 2017.
Directors attend Board meetings at least four times per year. Two meetings are held in Sydney, and two are held outside Sydney in different regional settings.
Directors play an active role in giving direction to the ALS Executive, including:
- governing the organisation by assisting in establishing broad policies and objectives through membership of the ALS Finance, Audit, Human Resources, and Policy and Governance Committees
- selecting, appointing and reviewing the performance of the Chief Executive Officer
- approving annual budgets
- ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources
- participating in strategic plan development and progress against key outcomes
- accounting to stakeholders for the organisation’s performance
Directors also participate on interview panels for full-time permanent positions within the ALS.
Alternate Board Directors
Each Director of the Board of Directors can have an Alternate Director, as approved by the Board of Directors.
- are members of the ALS Company
- get appointed by individual Directors with the approval of the Board of Directors (there is no timeframe or requirement to appoint an Alternate Director)
- act on behalf of the Directors they represent during Board meetings by participating in the proceeding and deliberation of an issue, and by voting or declining to vote on resolution
- represent the ALS in their communities
- are registered as Alternate Directors under ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission)
An Alternate Director’s term expires when:
- their term as a Company Member expires;
- they get replaced by another Alternate Director, usually initiated by the Director they represent; or
- they resign as a Company Member or as an Alternate Director.
The ALS is guided by the our Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015.
The ALS relies on funding under contract from the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department. We have assured funding until 30 June 2017.