ALS relocation costs more than valuable service
MOVING the Aboriginal Legal Service office to Coffs Harbour will cost the local community more than just the ease of access to a valuable service.
The former ALS fielder officer in Grafton, Andrew Jeffery, said the service will lose almost 40 years of corporate knowledge, when the office transfers south on July 1.
"Three of the staff have taken redundancies because the offer to work in Coffs Harbour doesn't suit our commitments.
Mr Jeffrey, with two years as the Grafton field officer, was one of those to leave, but his level of experience paled in comparison to the other two.
"Taryn Duroux has been with the ALS in Grafton for 18 and a half years and Leanne Williams has been working here for 13 years,” he said.
"That time just goes across generations. They're now helping children of people whose parents they helped when they were young.
"You don't get that back any time soon. It will take another 15 years at least for someone to get that level of knowledge and trust with the local community. If it happens at all.”
Mr Jeffrey said while the ALS management's reasons for making the move to Coffs Harbour has never been adequately explained.
"They produced a lot of figures and talked about the need for the service in Coffs, but they've never been able to back any of that up,” he said.
"It's been proved their figures are not right for the reasons behind the move and Coffs Harbour does not need the service.
"Coffs is currently serviced by ALS Grafton, has Legal Aid and has just been approved a Community Legal Centre.”
Mr Jeffery said he ceased work with the ALS two weeks ago and Ms Duroux would leave at the end of the week.
"Leanne's got another three weeks there,” he said.
"She's going to be the last one standing.”