Law and Justice Projects
The work of NAAJA’s Law and Justice Projects Section is focused on:
- strengthening the capacity Aboriginal people to participate actively in the justice system;
- take individual and collective responsibility for their lives and the issues they face; and
- fully exercise their legal rights.
As a proud Aboriginal community-controlled organisation, we stress the unique cultural, linguistic and region-specific needs of our clients and communities. Eighty per cent of the NT’s Aboriginal population live in remote or very remote locations. Many Aboriginal Territorians speak English as a third or fourth language, and some not at all. Mainstream legal concepts are often poorly understood and the legal system does not take into account different conceptual notions that many Aboriginal people have.
We advocate for Aboriginal people to have decision-making autonomy in matters affecting them so that programs meet the needs of Aboriginal people and money is not wasted on poorly designed programs not fit for purpose.
Our work ranges from helping individual clients, such as by supporting people to make the transition from custody back to the community, to benefitting the wider community through legal education and training.
Innovative local solutions
We aim to improve the way laws operate and impact on Aboriginal people in the Top End and to improve access to justice for Aboriginal people. At the heart of our work is increasing community empowerment and individual responsibility.
We make submissions, work closely with government and the courts, and collaborate with other organisations to affect positive change for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Our work is heavily informed by our legal practice areas (criminal, civil, family law) and our advocacy is innovative, constructive and solutions-focused.
Our projects are evidence-based and seek to improve access to justice for our clients.
Community legal education
NAAJA provides culturally appropriate legal education, training and capacity building to a range of groups and organisations across the Top End. We support Aboriginal people to learn more about the justice system and to build links between Elders and community leaders, the courts, police and other service providers. This makes the justice system more relevant for Aboriginal people and enhances the relevance and effectiveness of the justice system for Aboriginal people.
NAAJA regularly visits 12 remote communities to provide training and education. In 4 communities, we have employed a participatory action research methodology to work with senior community members to (re)establish law and justice groups to improve community safety and understanding of the law.
Our methodology is strength-based and ensures that our legal education and development projects are sustainable, culturally relevant, well communicated and community driven. Two-way learning, activity and narrative-based learning and a participant designed projects are encouraged. Interpreters are used as required. Collaboration and co-operation with other services is a feature of our work.
Night Patrol Legal Education
NAAJA was funded in 2012 to provide intensive legal training and support for Night Patrol Services in 10 regional and remote centres. Highly trained Night Patrol Services are an integral part of building resilient communities and improving the social, educational, health and economic outcomes of Aboriginal people in remote communities.
We build the skills and capacity of Night Patrol Services and develop their role as leaders in preventing crime and promoting community safety, with a particular focus on initiatives to protect women and children. Our training includes foundations of the legal system and various areas of civil and criminal laws including the criminal justice system, child protection laws, duty of care, use of force and liquor laws.
We also improve engagement and collaboration between Night Patrol Services and local allied services, including police, schools, health centres, youth workers, women’s safe houses, councils, elders, Community Corrections and local law and justice groups.
NAAJA’s APONT Policy Officer enables NAAJA to contribute to the policy work of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT). Without this position, NAAJA would not have capacity to undertake this crucial work to address the full range of issues faced by Aboriginal people in the NT.
Some examples of APONT’s work include a submission to a Housing of Representatives Standing Committee on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, a submission to the Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Affairs about the draft minimum standards in relation to Alcohol Management Plans, and a submission in relation to the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Bill.
Yuendumu to Spread the Peace Message
The Central Desert Regional Council has congratulated the Commonwealth Government for supporting the expansion of the Yuendumu Mediation and Justice Program. Under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, Yuendumu Mediation & Justice Program will receive an additional $100,000 in 2015/16 to expand their service to the nearby communities of Willowra and Ti Tree.