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If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

References for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

References for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

VALS provides legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Victoria. They aim to address the causes and effects of disadvantage in these communities. They also provide culturally appropriate education programs and resources aiming to promote the rights and freedoms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

See Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service(opens in a new window).

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

The commission (VEOHRC) has detailed information designed to assist lawyers to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been charged with offences. Resources give practical information about seeking a transfer of a matter into the Koori court, and making arguments about the systemic racism that Aboriginal people encounter in their lives, particularly when they encounter the justice system.


The Commission site also has research resources about overrepresentation of Aboriginal women in the criminal justice system, and personal stories from some community members. The site also has key statistics about Aboriginal people in Victoria.

See VEOHRC—Aboriginal rights(opens in a new window).

Human Rights Law Centre

Consideration of the effect of unconscious bias into Aboriginal deaths in custody in the coronial inquest into the death of Tanya Day.

See Human Rights Law Centre—Tanya Day inquest—summary of findings(opens in a new window).

VLA learning hub

Working inclusively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients

This elearning module, presented by Meena Singh, a Yorta Yorta and Indian woman with a background in law, management, community engagement and consulting, covers how to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in a safe and respectful way, including asking about identity to obtain legal instructions. The module will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete.

See Working inclusively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients(opens in a new window).

Other ways of knowing: Aboriginal culture eLearning course

This module was authored by Janine Cattanach at the Cultural Consultancy Group. Janine is a Marrithiyel woman traditionally from Woodycupildiya in the Northern Territory, now based in Geelong, Victoria. This interactive could is focused on developing the user's knowledge in relation to:

  • Aboriginal culture, beliefs and practices
  • how Aboriginal learning and stories are passed from generation to generation
  • time impact of colonisation on Aboriginal peoples and culture
  • the importance of spirit to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people
  • how Aboriginal people find healing within themselves
  • the importance of understanding the culture you work with.

See Other ways of knowing: Aboriginal culture eLearning course(opens in a new window)

Access for Community legal centres and panel lawyers

Both of these eLearning modules are available for external users from the eLearning portal in LawHub

See eLearning.

This strategy provides the basis for creating, maintaining and sustaining a culturally safe and inclusive workplace for First Nations staff. It also aims to improve service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. The strategy was developed in collaboration and consultation with VLA's Aboriginal Services Team and First Nations Staff Network.

See Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Learning Strategy 2020 – 2025(opens in a new window).

Note: This resource is only available to staff at Victoria Legal Aid.

Department of Health

The program, Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) have produced a toolkit designed to assist hospital staff to improve care and services for the Aboriginal community.

See Department of Health—Improving care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients (ICAP) resource kit(opens in a new window).

Australian Indigenous Health Info Net

This national resource aims to inform practice and policy in Indigenous health by making research and other knowledge readily accessible. The site was developed through a grant from the Australian Department of Health.

See Australian Indigenous Health Info Net—Aboriginal community justice programs(opens in a new window).

Human Rights Law Centre

This independent, not-for-profit, non-government organisation aims to protect and promote human rights in Australia by a combination of legal action, advocacy, research and capacity building. The centre has released a report that interrogates the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

See Human Rights Law Centre—Over-represented and overlooked: the crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's over-imprisonment(opens in a new window).

Victoria Police

Victoria police have established a community liaison officer program to enhance the relationship between the police and Victorian Aboriginal communities. The officers work with Aboriginal communities and are stationed at 50 stations across Victoria. They try to build a solid foundation of trust and respect between police and Aboriginal communities. Their role is to try to resolve issues involving Aboriginal People in their local area.

See Victoria Police—Aboriginal community liaison officer program(opens in a new window).

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

This Royal Commission was established in October 1987 in response to public concern about the numbers of Aboriginal people who were dying in custody. The Commissioners were required to report into each of the 99 deaths that occurred between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989. They were also required to investigate actions taken subsequent to the deaths, including conduct of coronial, police and other enquiries. The Commissioner was also able to take account of social, cultural and legal factors, which had a bearing on the deaths.

See Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody(opens in a new window).

Coronors Court

The court has developed a practice direction to inform court procedure when investigating an Aboriginal death in custody.

See Coronors Court—Practice Direction No. 6 of 2020(opens in a new window).

Australian Human Rights Commission

This report examines Aboriginal deaths that have happened since the Royal Commission report into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Coronial findings are used to examine the circumstances surrounding each death and to determine whether the recommendations made by the Royal Commission have been followed.

See Australian Human Rights Commission—Indigenous Deaths in Custody(opens in a new window).

The purpose of this site is to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with Australian Government policies and programmes.

See in a new window)

Judicial College of Victoria

Children's Court Bench Book

The Children’s Court Bench Book is aimed at providing a quick reference tool for judicial officers in this jurisdiction, and for practitioners working in this area. It has been designed to supplement the research materials on the Children's Court website.

  • Koori family hearing day 'Marram-Ngala Ganbu' 21.1
  • Children's Koori Court 33
  • Koori intensive bail support program 26.4.2

See Judicial College of Victoria—Children's Court Bench Book(opens in a new window).

Corrections Victoria

Following the Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal deaths in custody the Victorian Government worked with Aboriginal communities to develop a long-term strategy to improve justice outcomes for Aboriginal people in Victoria. The result was the 'Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement'. Several phases of this agreement have been rolled out over a number of years. Each phase has a different focus. They include examining ways to prevent the progression of young Aboriginal People into the justice system, reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal People within the justice system and to improve mental health.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole—Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement(opens in a new window).

Indigenous Strategic Framework

A national (and New Zealand) framework has been developed to guide the management of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are prisoners and offenders. The framework was developed by the national Corrective Services Administrators Council. It was endorsed in July 2016. This document should be read in conjunction with the standard guidelines for corrections in Australia.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole—Indigenous Strategic Framework(opens in a new window).

Konnect Transitional Support program

Corrections also has information about Konnect, a support program for indigenous people who are leaving prison.

See 'Konnect' under 'Intensive Transitional Support Programs' in Corrections, Prisons and Parole—Transition programs(opens in a new window).

Magistrates' Court Practice Direction

This direction is an attempt to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who are involved in the diversion programs. Koori Courts in Melbourne and Mildura hear diversion applications. The court expects to expand the practice to all venues where the Magistrates' Koori Court sits.

See Magistrates' Court—Practice direction No. 10 of 2016(opens in a new window).

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service made a submission to the Ombudsman in relation to this investigation, published in September 2015.

See Victorian Ombudsman—Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria(opens in a new window).

Corrections Victoria

This business unit of Department of Justice is responsible for setting the direction, management and operation of Victoria's corrections system. Corrections Victoria's website, Corrections, prisons and parole has information about the governance of prisons in Victoria.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole(opens in a new window).

Standards for prisoners and offenders

These national guidelines set out the broad principles, outcomes and goals to be achieved by correctional services in Australia. Each state and territory must look to these when developing their individual legislation, standards and policies.

The standards, developed by the Department of Justice, set different standards for men and women's prisons. These documents set out the minimum requirements for correctional services in all Victorian prisons.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole—Standards for Prisons and Offenders(opens in a new window).

Sentence Management Manual

This 4 part manual has been developed by Corrections Victoria to direct prison staff who are involved in the sentence management of prisoners to ensure that they perform their duties consistently and in line with legal and Corrections Victoria requirements.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole—Sentence Management Manual(opens in a new window).

Commissioner's requirements

These documents set out the high level requirements for prison operational matters. They are used to ensure consistency or continuity of correctional practice across the whole prison system, both in public and private prisons.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole—Commissioner's Requirements(opens in a new window).

The Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service's handbook has a chapter to explain the laws that apply to prisoners in Victoria.

See Imprisonment, supervision and prisoner rights(opens in a new window).

Supporting justice

This site is designed for lawyers, judicial officers and court professionals. It aims to help them learn how to recognise the signs of disability, gain an understanding of the criminal justice system experience of people with a disability, and have evidence-based knowledge and capability-building training to draw upon. For example, there is information about:

  • communicating effectively with people with disability
  • preparing a plea for a client with a disability
  • accessing specialist courts
  • accessing support services and NDIS.

See Supporting justice(opens in a new window).

This handbook deals with the law for prisoners in Western Australia, however it may be useful for prisoners who want to be transfer interstate.

See WA Legal Aid—Prisoners, parole and prison offences(opens in a new window).