The Gurehlgam building in Victoria Street, Grafton, which houses the Aboriginal Legal Service office for the Clarence Valley.
The Gurehlgam building in Victoria Street, Grafton, which houses the Aboriginal Legal Service office for the Clarence Valley.

Mayor's attack on proposed legal service move

THE Aboriginal Legal Service should rethink its proposal to move its regional office from Grafton to Coffs Harbour because figures it used to justify the move are wrong, says Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons.

Cr Simmons said the ALS figure of a Valley indigenous population of 990 were about 1700 short of the figure the council used.

"The council works from a figure of five per cent of the working population of the Valley as Aboriginal," he said.

Cr Simmons and deputy mayor Jason Kingsley met with ALS executives on Monday to discuss the proposed office move with staff.

He said the ALS stuck to its guns about the reasons for the move.

"They said they had taken their figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but I'm not sure how old those figures were," he said.

"They were definitely taking notes and said they would bring up those issues at their next executive meeting."

Cr Simmons said the deputy mayor also had questions for the ALS about the transport difficulties facing Aboriginal clients of the ALS in outlying areas such as Baryulgil and Malabugilmah.

"I've authorised council general manager Ashley Lindsay to send the ALS an email seeking clarification on several points including the population figures and the transport issues," he said.

Cr Simmons said he would present a Mayoral Minute, expanding on that email, to the final Clarence Valley Council meeting of the year, next week, calling for ALS to review its proposal.

Acting CEO of the ALS, Janelle Clarke, said the move would go ahead based on the number of finalised cases involving Aboriginal people coming through Coffs Harbour Court. She said this number, plus the larger number of sitting days in Coffs Harbour, compared to Grafton, made it inevitable the service needed to move.



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