History of ATSILS and NATSILS
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) were established in every State and Territory over 40 years ago to provide culturally competent legal assistance services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ATSILS are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled non-for–profit organisations which, through funding from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, provide legal assistance services in the areas of criminal, family and civil law in addition to undertaking community legal education, prisoner through-care and law reform and advocacy activities.
NATSILS was established as the peak body for ATSILS in 2007. Initially operating as a body to share best practice in the provision of legal assistance services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, over time NATSILS has evolved and grown into a highly coordinated body that has expanded its sphere of influence to include broader issues in addition to those of service provision.
Through the expertise of its members, NATSILS has become an expert voice on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the justice system. NATSILS regularly provides expert commentary and advice as to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and human rights, access to justice, social inclusion, systemic discrimination, evidence based justice policy, and in particular evidence based criminal justice policy.
NATSILS are also becoming a leader in the growing area of effective Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance models, combining traditional principles of governance with Western business practices to best serve our member organisations and promote the right to self-determination.