Free Wills Clinic for First Nations Peoples in the East Kimberley

04 July 2023

From 12-16 June, community legal assistance services and pro bono lawyers joined forces in the East Kimberley in Western Australia in a mission to provide free wills for First Nations Peoples.

Facilitated by Law Access in collaboration with Aboriginal Family Legal Services, Legal Aid WA, Kimberley Community Legal Services and Barry Nilsson (BN), the clinic visited Kalumburu on 12 June, Halls Creek on 13 and 14 June and Kununurra on 15 and 16 June.

BN Wills and Estates lawyers Emma Blay and Gabrielle Brown said they were thrilled to have made a meaningful difference by increasing the availability of community legal services to regional and remote First Nations Peoples.

“We want to ensure individuals can take care of future generations through legal property transfer and caretaking provisions for children, and which is also undertaken in a culturally respectful way, taking into account customary laws and protocols,” Ms Blay said.

“Our mission over the past week was to break down barriers by providing free wills to meet the unmet legal needs of First Nations Peoples within remote Indigenous communities in Australia.

“As a firm, we are pleased to be extending our legal support to First Nations communities – a commitment that is embedded in our core business through our Impact Project and pro bono practice.”

Within the past year, BN’s Impact Project has provided pro bono legal representation to the family of an Aboriginal man who died in custody, community support to remote First Nations students and progressing reconciliation through restoring traditional place names.

BN’s Principal and Head of Pro Bono and Responsible Business Katie Swain said the firm was pleased to be able to support this important collaborative community legal project.

“As a firm, we are committed to providing free community legal services, with a strong focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. This commitment is embedded in our core business through our dedicated pro bono and responsible business arm the Impact Project,” Ms Swain said.

“BN’s pro bono practice has contributed an estimated 8,200 hours of pro bono work valued at more than $2.5 million in FY23. Our Wills and Estate team, including Emma and Gabrielle, have been heavily involved in pro bono, with Emma receiving our annual Impact Project Award for her tremendous contribution to community legal services.

“We are proud to facilitate greater access to estate and guardianship protections for First Nations Peoples by sending our wills and estates lawyers to the East Kimberley for this clinic.”

This is the third free clinic organised as part of a collaborative access to justice project developed by Law Access, Community Legal WA and Aboriginal Family Legal Services.

We’re thrilled that this project has been featured in QLS Proctor here.

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