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$300,000 funding boost for legal services in Torres Strait

Thursday Island Community Justice Group team from left – Amos Lewin, Beryl Daniel and David Yorkston.

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is investing $300,000 to improve access to legal services and social support across the region, including outer islands.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the funding aimed to reduce the overrepresentation of First Nations people in contact with the justice system.

“Local, culturally appropriate legal and social services can best meet our region’s needs by supporting offenders and victim-survivors at all stages of their journeys,” Mr Stephen said.

“Our investment will support early intervention, prevention strategies and wrap-around support for people to get their lives back on track.”

The funding will enable Thursday Island Community Justice Group to deliver client support and build capacity of community justice groups to provide information and education in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area communities of Bamaga and Seisia.

Mr Stephen said the investment aligned with National Agreement on Closing the Gap efforts to build a strong, sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector and reduce detention and incarceration rates.

National Closing the Gap targets include to:

  • Reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15 per cent by 2031.
  • Reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (10-17 years) in detention by at least 30 per cent by 2031.

Thursday Island Community Justice Group Coordinator Amos Lewin said the much-needed funding would supplement Queensland Government investment to help connect clients with legal referral and support services, particularly on the outer islands.

“Thanks to TSRA’s funding we have employed a fulltime support officer based on Thursday Island to act as a link between the courts and community to help our people understand and navigate the system,” Mr Lewin said.

“The funding will also aid the Justice Group to visit correctional and juvenile centres to look at ways our people can transition into their communities with strategies to reduce offending, support rehabilitation and empower them to make positive contributions to society.

“Funding will also help local community justice groups across the Torres Strait, including on the outer islands and Northern Peninsula Area communities of Bamaga and Seisia, to create action plans for safe and supported communities.”

The TSRA funding directly responds to feedback from regional Social Justice Interagency Services – including Lena Passi Women’s Shelter, Thursday Island Community Justice Group and Queensland Government agencies such as police, health, child safety and corrections – about domestic and family violence prevention, community legal education, client referral processes and capacity-building for community justice groups.

The Thursday Island Community Justice Group is an established, local non-government organisation that provides essential support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in contact with the justice system.

Contact the Thursday Island Community Justice Group at 10 Pearl Street, call 07 4090 3858 or email dfv@ticjg.org.au.

Learn more about the TSRA at www.tsra.gov.au or follow us on Facebook.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.