KCLS-ANU Partnership: What's Remote? 

Most Australians think of places like Canberra as “central” and places like the Kimberley as “remote”. Our national statistical agency defines different degrees of “remoteness” across Australia. At KCLS, we have even described ourselves as a “remote” legal practice.

But what do terms like “centre” and “remote” really mean? A lot depends on your perspective. For one of our clients – say, a Kukatja woman in Balgo, there is nothing remote about Balgo and its space; it is her here and now.  Balgo and the surrounding country are central to her experience of self, culture, language, law, and custodianship – while laws and decisions made in Canberra or Perth are remote from her daily lived experience.

So it’s all a matter of perspective. You can say that she is remote from the centres of Australian political power, or you can say that decision-makers are remote from her experience and her country. Both are correct.

What is the KCLS-ANU Partnership?

In July 2017, KCLS and the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law entered into a relationship that recalibrates the traditional relationship between the centre and the periphery. Our partnership seeks to reduce the mutual remoteness of places like Balgo and Canberra.

In the KCLS-ANU collaboration, the needs of Aboriginal clients in the Kimberley are the centre. While we’re not blind to the realities of power imbalances, we believe that it is possible to position Kimberley people at the centre of policies and services that are meant to work for them.

KCLS-ANU Hotdesk

Over the last few months, a team of ANU law student volunteers in Canberra have become KCLS paralegals. They volunteer remotely at a Hotdesk to help our staff based in Kununurra and Broome, supervised by KCLS Pro Bono Solicitor and ANU Senior Lecturer, Judy Harrison.

ANU students Skype with KCLS solicitors at the Hotdesk Photo: Stuart Hay (ANU)

ANU students Skype with KCLS solicitors at the Hotdesk
Photo: Stuart Hay (ANU)

According to KCLS Principal Solicitor Sarouche Razi, this collaboration is helping us reach more people, in more places, more effectively. This partnership has also enabled KCLS to access pro bono legal services, coaching and training by ANU College of Law academics.

Internships and Research 

A number of ANU students have also been undertaking research internships at KCLS in Kununurra and Broome. These students have assisted KCLS with the Inquest into the Multiple Youth Deaths in the Kimberley. The Aboriginal Legal Service and KCLS are counsel for this Inquest.

The Launch 

The KCLS-ANU Partnership will be launched during ANU NAIDOC Week in August 2017. A panel discussion about social policy, civil and criminal justice issues in the Kimberley will be held at ANU, with KCLS senior staff and representatives from the ANU College of Law.

For more information about the KCLS-ANU Initiative, please contact ANU Senior Lecturer Judy Harrison at Judith.Harrison@anu.edu.au