Kimberley Community Legal Services, has a long history. It moved to its the current premises in 1999, although the building has been extended and renovated since then.
When I first started in November 2000, four people were employed, a lawyer, a co-ordinator, a receptionist and me, the Aboriginal Legal Liaison Officer.
Word got around about the services that KCLS was offering to other towns and communities and now it's grown, with a second office in Broome and 10 staff, including several more Aboriginal workers. There's been a lot of changes in staff and lawyers throughout the years and yet KCLS has managed to continue delivering its services to people in need, right through the East Kimberley to the Gibb River and the desert and more recently to the West, including Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.
With a lot of positive workers and results to show with clients, remote communities began using KCLS services for Court as well as education and welfare matters. They started wanting the lawyers and Aboriginal workers to visit their communities to meet their local councils and community members and so talks began to identify community needs and what legal advice could be sought to help the community or individuals and family members to better themselves and their family groups.
The main role of KCLS in the early days, was assisting clients with civil matters in the Magistrates’ Court and providing legal advice and support for other legal matters of concern. The work involved travelling by car or flying to Wyndham, Halls Creek, Oombulgurri and Kalumburu.
I have had a soft spot for KCLS from the beginning of its long journey and have seen different staff come and go. The service delivery has grown so much: more clients, more positive outcomes and more Government Departments and agencies recognising the organisation for its potential, especially in working with our Aboriginal clients.
I hope to see more positive years of what KCLS can offer to the broader community.
Ruth Abdullah, Senior Indigenous Worker