REVEALED: Site for controversial legal service office
THE Aboriginal Legal Service has revealed the site of its new office to be relocated from Grafton to Coffs Harbour.
Eight months after its controversial decision to move, the ALS yesterday revealed its new office would be at 203 Rose Ave, almost 1km from the Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct. CEO Karly Warner said the new office should open next month.
The ALS has also confirmed it would operate an outreach service in the Clarence Valley at the New School of Arts in Skinner St, South Grafton from a date in August.
The ALS offered no explanation why the current office in the Gurehlgam centre, two blocks from Grafton Court House, was rejected as a location for the outreach service.
The move from Grafton to Coffs Harbour, announced at the end of last year, was not popular with many in the indigenous and wider Clarence community.
There were claims the decision was made without consulting the Aboriginal people and many of the statistics used to justify the move were either incorrect or out of date.
Ms Warner said the new office was part of an expanded ALS service model for the Northern Region and would be close to the Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct, the largest in regional NSW. The court has a range of full-time sittings, including Local and Children's Court matters. NSW Family and Community Services also have a significant presence in Coffs Harbour.
"We are looking forward to starting work from the new permanent Coffs Harbour office, where the demand for ALS' culturally-safe legal services are increasing,” Ms Warner said.
ALS chairperson Brendan Moyle said the the board was committed to ensuring ALS staff continuing to support local Aboriginal communities across the Northern Region.
”Whilst our delivery model has expanded to include our new office in Coffs Harbour, our frontline services won't change,” he said.
"The board remains confident that this expanded service delivery model will achieve a stronger, flexible, and a more efficient organisation while 'staying true' to the Aboriginal communities where we live and work.
"We're here for our mob.”