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Wednesday, 3 November 1976


Mr VINER - I welcome the question from the honourable gentleman because there has been a great deal of misunderstanding and misconception about these guidelines. They were issued to the Aboriginal legal aid services about 2 months ago- not as a condition of funding by the Commonwealth but, as their name implies, as a guide to the services so that they might identify and respond to areas of priority in the provision of legal aid to Aborigines. I might also tell the honourable member that those guidelines were discussed quite freely at a conference which I convened of all State legal aid services only a couple of weeks ago. It was a very fruitful conference, with ready participation by my officers and delegates from each State Aboriginal legal aid service. The result of it is that I have asked the services to write their own charter for their future conduct of legal aid. After that has been circulated through all the services throughout Australia and to my department another conference will be held either towards the end of this year or early next year. The object of it will be to lay down for the first time a clear charter for the Aboriginal legal aid services so that they will know where they are going in the future, what areas of priority they should aim to service and, for the Government's part, to which areas it should aim to provide funding. I am quite sure that after this exercise of extensive consultation we will get out of it very much better Aboriginal legal aid services than we have had before.







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