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Final submission on the Victorian Aboriginal Community consultations on the proposed State Government redress scheme for institutional child abuse.

On 5 August 2015 a discussion paper was released on by the State Government outlining a proposed scheme to compensate for physical, sexual and psychological abuse suffered while in an institution as a child.

The proposed scheme would be available to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal applicants.

Included in the discussion paper was a recommendation that Aboriginal people in Victoria should also be eligible for redress for cultural loss/ cultural abuse that occurred as well (the Stolen Generations).

This submission reflects the views of staff and community members who attended forums conducted in communities and prisons on this issue, plus some interviews conducted by Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit students.

The State Government Department of Justice will be considering the large number of submissions received on this matter from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal agencies.

They will then be making recommendations to the appropriate Ministers and making some decisions.

Please check back for updates or contact the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

VALS was a part of a forum for peak and Statewide Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to discuss Constitutional Recognition of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Held at the Aborigines Advancement League on 1 September 2011, the forum was hosted by the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporation (VAEAI), the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Co-operative Ltd (VALS) and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO). Great discussion was had and some great insight was gathered. The report from the day will be forwarded onto the You Me Unity panel and uploaded to their website.

A copy of the report can be downloaded below.

VALS has been involved with the Human Rights Law Resource Centre’s (HRLC) Police Use of Force Project. In contributing to their research and co-hosting a community workshop, VALS supports the HRLC in their campaign to bring human rights-compliant regulation, training and monitoring of Victoria Police to reduce the incidence of force, protect the community and increase public confidence in policing.

Please find below the HRLC’s Police Use of Force Media Release, Background Research Paper and Final Report.

In 2010, the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) and VALS piloted a new project, the Aboriginal Credit and Debt Clinic (ACDC).

The aims of the ACDC were to:

• provide free legal assistance in consumer and credit law issues; and

• collect data on the nature and extent of the unmet legal need of Aboriginal people living in rural and regional areas of Victoria.

Between May and August 2010, one-day free legal clinics were held at community hubs in Shepparton, Ballarat, Morwell and Mildura. These clinics were staffed by pro bono lawyers from PILCH member firms and were supported by local services, together with PILCH and VALS staff.

The project report (below) evaluates the ACDC. The numerous case studies provided in the report provide a stark picture of financial hardship and serve to highlight the civil law needs of some Aboriginal people in rural and regional areas. Many clients presented with multiple debts which contributed to high levels of anxiety about housing, employment and the need to support children and other family. A number of the people assisted by the ACDC were either homeless or insecurely housed.

The report demonstrates the significant need for funded civil law legal services for Aboriginal people in rural and regional Victoria.

This submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) was prepared by the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) and the Human Rights Law Resource Centre (HRLRC) with the guidance of an NGO Steering Group and with contributions from over 30 NGOs including VALS. Endorsed, in whole or in part, by more than 100 NGOs across Australia, this submission talks about Australian laws, policies and practices continue to inhibit Aboriginal peoples’ equal enjoyment of their rights under CERD.