In a reprieve from years of last minute, one-off annual funding arrangements, the federal government has extended funding for the CNS until 2019. The NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) has confirmed it is expecting the funding contract in the mail as early as next week.
A hotline run by the ALS, the service provides 24-hour access to legal advice for Indigenous persons who have been arrested. Since its inception there have been no Indigenous deaths in police custody in NSW or ACT.
Despite this, the service has faced an uphill battle for funding each year.
While the Federal Government announced last December it would provide $1.8 million until 2019, the ALS says that amount had not been delivered. The service had only received interim funding of $263,000 which would have run out on 30 June 2016.
But on Thursday, ALS CEO Gary Oliver wrote in a statement on Facebook, “we are very grateful the Australian Government is backing up their commitment”.
Despite the good news, questions remain over who should fund the CNS.
Mr Oliver told NITV he was disappointed with the NSW Government’s failure to contribute to funding or even meet with the ALS.
“We’ve asked [NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton] for a meeting and haven’t received any response,
"We’ve also asked the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to broker the meeting with us and haven’t had any response."
NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton told NITV that funding the CNS is a Commonwealth responsibility.