Territory Stories

Annual Report 2020-2021, Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission



Annual Report 2020-2021, Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission

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Tabled Paper 433


Tabled Papers for 14th Assembly 2020 -; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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n o rt h e rn t e rr it o ry l e g a l a id c o m m is si o n a n n u a l re p o rt 2 0 2 0 /2 1 0 2 8 The skills and experience of the solicitors in our mental health team have strengthened considerably as we continue to encounter and navigate the complex issues and tensions that arise in the compulsory treatment context. Our advocacy work focuses on ensuring that Tribunal hearings are procedurally fair and that all interference with the civil liberties of people living with mental illness is kept to the minimum necessary, in keeping with the principles of the Mental Health and Related Services Act. The Civil Law Practice also crafted a comprehensive submission regarding the proposed review of the Mental Health and Related Services Act National Disability Insurance Scheme The Civil Law Practice continues to provide advice and representation to clients who need help with matters relating to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), including obtaining access to the scheme for funding for disability supports and providing assistance with appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The objective of this assistance is to provide high quality and accessible legal services to people living with disability and to contribute to the emerging body of case law relating to the NDIS. Katherine Health Justice Partnership In 2019 the NT Legal Aid Commission formed a health justice partnership (HJP) in Katherine, 300km south of Darwin, with a range of health and social support providers known collectively as the Katherine Individual Support Program (KISP). NT Legal Aid partnered with KISP to ensure that the civil law concerns of Katherines most vulnerable people, namely those suffering chronic illness, disability and homelessness, would be addressed as part of their health and social well-being support. This Health Justice Partnership is funded through the NT Primary Health Network. Under the health justice partnership, our lawyer and social support worker provide: 1. daily walk-in legal advice clinics at the Salvation Army between 9am and 10am. 2. legal advice sessions at any location convenient to client, medical service or social support service. 3. routine legal health checks conducted by our social support worker for clients entering the VTAC rehabilitation program. 4. legal task assistance ongoing legal work of up to four hours per legal issue noting that most clients have multiple legal issues. 5. legal referrals to appropriate legal services. 6. social support referrals to community-based services. 7. community legal education for stakeholders and clients. In April 2021 Associate Professor Lisa Wood from the University of Western Australia undertook an evaluation of the health justice partnership. The report concluded The HJP has demonstrated a significant impact in the Katherine community in its first 18 months, helping to fill a critical gap in the existing service landscape and providing a vital bridge for more integrated support for people with complex and intertwined legal, health and social issues. In May 2021 Associate Professor Lisa Wood and our HJP lawyer presented at the Preventative Health Conference in Western Australia. Our paper discussed the Katherine Health Justice Partnership its evaluation and outcomes. Indigenous Outreach The Civil Law Practice continued to deliver high quality, culturally safe legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable Indigenous people in selected regional and remote areas in the NT through our Indigenous Outreach Program. In the Katherine region, we have continued to build relationships with community members and other service providers in the four remote communities that we visit. We are the only legal service that regularly visits these communities. The legal advice and education that we provide, as well as the referrals that we make to non-legal service providers, are therefore key to ensuring that those communities have access to justice and other services. Our Principal Functions (continued)