Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)

Administration Officers

Our fabulous Administration Officers hold the ALS office together - our lawyers rely on them!

And they help members of the community. Sometimes people have problems that aren't legal problems. Whether it's housing, employment, money or a family problem, our Administration Officers provide information about these sorts of problems, and make referrals. That's their job and they're really good at it!

Drop in and say hello!

Gail's Story, ALS Taree

For ALS Taree Administration Officer Gail Russell, order in the office is a pleasure. She takes that order into day-to-day life with three clear messages: support your local ALS, always visit friends and family in prison, and be positive in everything you do.

The ALS is needed by our people. Everybody deserves a second chance. In some cases people who use the ALS need a third, fourth or fifth chance. Sometimes it takes a long time to get a life together and ALS gives people that chance.

Hello, I am a Biripi woman born and raised in Taree in the beautiful Manning Valley. I moved away for a few years but came back home again. I love my home town and the people here.

I do the admin work at the office and I love my job. At times it can be stressful and tiring work. I believe it requires a special type of person. I can’t speak highly enough of ALS Admin staff.

I love the people contact part of my job. I like being able to help people, to make a person feel comfortable in our office, and to make it easy for our clients to gain access to our service.

The ALS opened its doors in Taree some thirteen years ago to represent and provide legal advice to the 3,000 strong Koori population here. Before that ALS Solicitor Ernie Magni used to travel all the way from ALS Kempsey. Ernie had a large area to cover so how deadly is Ernie!

One of the things I love to tell people is that ALS solicitors will go to court and fight for them regardless of their charge. Our solicitors have a winning competitive spirit.

When people come to our service seeking assistance, no-one is turned away. If we cannot help we assist by referring to an appropriate agency or to another solicitor. If a person has a court matter the ALS solicitor and field officer will do everything in their power to achieve good court outcomes. Clients of the ALS can play an active role in their defence; speak to the solicitor and field officer about how to do this.

ALS Taree is one street away from the court house and police station. There are three of us here: Solicitor Peter North, Field Officer Lou Stanton and myself. I think I’m lucky to work for and with one of the best Solicitors and Field Officers in the State.

I am always in awe of the solicitors that work with the ALS. They are excellent solicitors and good decent people. Our office actually has a retired Judge that Peter calls on to assist with certain cases. Judge John Nader does this without wanting or expecting payment. How cool is that!

And while mentioning Judges, it's important people are always respectful when walking into the domain of the Magistrates court. Magistrates have the power to hand down penalties that affect your life – so it makes sense to respect them! :)

I’m very proud to say I work for the ALS. We’re very professional and I believe it’s one of the best Aboriginal organisations in the whole of Australia.

Taree is a really wonderful place to live. Aboriginal families make up about 15% of the population. Us Kooris mostly all get on :) It saddens me to say racism exists here, unemployment is bit high and many crimes are directly related to drugs and alcohol.

No one should believe there is no hope. For a person to lose hope, to me, is one of the saddest things I know. People come into to ALS knowing that we will bust our guts for them in court. That gives them hope.

I’m not convinced a non-Koori law firm would have the same empathy or understanding, or put up the good fight for our people as we do. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s what I believe.

When any of our clients go to prison I am sad for them, especially the younger people. I really believe there should be a separate prison for 18 to 30 year olds, but I guess that’s not going to happen. I urge all families and friends to be supportive of any person that goes to prison.

I also urge communities to always support their local ALS. To me it would be an absolute tragedy if the government ceased to fund the Aboriginal Legal Service.

I know that working with the ALS has made me a better person. I am more tolerant, more empathetic, more patient, and more importantly, I am non-judgemental to my community members.

These are my personal feelings and opinions on the community in which I live, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) and our clients. My apologies to those who may have different opinions. GR