LAW AND JUSTICE
The Law and Justice Projects section at NAAJA was established to develop programs and initiatives to reflect our organisation’s role as a justice agency and to complement the criminal, youth and civil law practice areas. These programs build on NAAJA’s strengths as a non-government organisation led by an Aboriginal board and Aboriginal management and our meaningful commitment to developing cultural competency [link]. The Law and Justice Projects section at NAAJA was established to develop programs and initiatives to reflect our organisation’s role as a justice agency and to complement the criminal, youth and civil law practice areas. These programs build on NAAJA’s strengths as a non-government organisation led by an Aboriginal board and Aboriginal management and our meaningful commitment to developing cultural competency.
Current projects and initiatives include:
- Community Legal Education
- Bilata Legal Pathways Program
- Cultural Competency & Legal Education
Projects and initiatives in development include:
- In 2016 we put in place the Peer Panel and have a proposal to establish the Student Court as a restorative justice program in schools to empower youth to be change agents in the youth justice space.
- We are working with relevant government agencies to lobby for support to build on our work engaging Law and Justice (or Elders) groups across the Top End over many years. Our proposals seek to empower cultural authority in major communities and regions and integrate this with the decision-making authority in law and justice matters, including criminal and child protection.
- We are working with partners to develop a Health Justice Partnership.
The Law and Justice Projects section also serves a key role in contributing to policy and law reform by way of submissions [link].
Our section serves active roles in a broad range of committees and advisory groups including key roles with the following organisations:
- Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
- Winkiku Rrumbangi NT Indigenous Lawyers Aboriginal Corporation
NAAJA contributes to policy and law reform by making submissions and appearing as witnesses in inquiries and consultation processes impacting law and justice issues in the Top End of the NT. This includes legal policy areas directly impacting our clients and related issues such as broader government policy of housing, employment and welfare, youth detention, alcohol and health.
Our work in making submissions and appearing as witnesses:
- Draws on the authority and cultural authority of an Aboriginal Board comprising representatives from across the Top End of the Northern Territory;
- Is consistent with our meaningful commitment to developing culturally competency [link].
- Connects with the input of experts, professionals and front-line workers across our criminal, youth and civil law practices and programs such as Throughcare and Community Legal Education.
The following is a list of our submissions:[note – when each submission goes live it should also be a short news item and pushed out through social media and listed on newsletters, etc. – this place is for a list of all of our submissions]
A key differentiator of NAAJA in our service delivery model is the emphasis, value and priority we place on developing cultural competency. We take this work seriously because Aboriginal people across the Top End of the NT tell us how important this work is to them.
We understand that, as an organisation, if we are to say we are culturally appropriate then we must make a meaningful commitment to developing cultural competency. We must integrate this across our practice, and be accountable. We set ourselves a high standard in our commitment to developing cultural competency and put ourselves forward as a unique and distinct service working with Aboriginal people in this context. We aspire to be a leader in this field and serve as an example to other government and non-government services where Aboriginal peoples feature prominently.
We are a culturally appropriate organisation because we make a meaningful commitment to developing cultural competency, and because:
- We are managed and led by an Aboriginal board
- Aboriginal people serve senior roles across our practice and key roles across our workforce
- We provide a quality education and professional development program for staff
- We integrate learnings in cultural competency across our practice
- We are culturally responsive and adapt to local and regional contexts
- We are accountable in this work
The ‘Cultural Competency Framework 2017 – 2020’ outlines NAAJA’s approach to developing and integrating best practice cultural competency across our services for Aboriginal people in the Top End of the Northern Territory. Click here to view the framework.
The following principles guide our work in aspiring to be cultural competent:
- We value the importance of being genuine and authentic in this space, and have mechanisms across our practice to be accountable.
- The cultural landscape in the NT is rich and diverse and we value this diversity. • We seek to be trauma-informed and embed these practices across our work.
- We recognise cultural competency as a continual process and from an individual, organisational and systems perspective.
- We are an Aboriginal organisation and must ensure every facet of our service delivery is culturally responsive and adequately meets the needs of the community we are funded to serve.
- What we learn and experience at NAAJA will stay with us after we leave. Questioning why we work at NAAJA involves a long-term commitment to developing cultural competency and being meaningful in this work.