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Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service, state government partner on new bail support program

Callan Morse -

The Tasmanian Aboriginal legal service is set to offer a new tailored bail support program to support Indigenous Tasmanians navigate the justice system.

Commencing as an 18-month trial, the Indigenous-designed and led initiative aims to keep reduce recidivism and identify root causes leading to incarceration.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Jake Smith said the program will ensure Indigenous Tasmanians are actively supported whilst on bail.

"They (will) have active supports through the legal system that limits the negative contact with the justice system in the longer term," Mr Smith told 7 Tasmania News.

"So our team will be here to support and guide those on bail to navigate through those systems to meet the conditions required."

Mr Smith said the program will take on a multifaceted approach to ensure Indigenous Tasmanians on bail are supported to make positive choices.

"Think of housing concerns, mental health, drug and other alcohol concerns. Accessing those support services to really make sure they get what they need to be healthy, vibrant Aboriginal community members," he said.

The Tasmanian government has contributed $250,000 through the Closing the Gap Capacity Building Fund to support TALS implement the initiative.

Tasmania's Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Roger Jaensch, acknowledged that Indigenous Tasmanians are "way over-represented" in custody.

The minister said the partnership between the government and TALS is an example new ways for governments and Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations to work together to achieve better outcomes for all Aboriginal people.

"By strengthening Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations we build their capacity to deliver programs and services that are Aboriginal led and culturally sensitive," Mr Jaensch said.

"The Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service is a good example of an Aboriginal-led Tasmanian organisation which is providing support for Aboriginal people who are released on bail.

"The program links people with culturally-safe, community-based support to address their needs, reduces the risk of reoffending and improves compliance with bail conditions."

The program will commence at the Launceston Magistrates Court with plans for expansion to the Hobart, Burnie and Devonport Magistrates Courts in the future.


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