Striving for equality for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Striving for equality for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A proud Malu Ki’ai and Samsep man, our Associate Director Aboriginal Services Alan Dewis, is relishing the opportunity to use his role to strive for equality, inclusion and cultural safety for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Alan’s previous roles have equipped him with solid experience to understand and advocate for Indigenous people.

‘Prior to Victoria Legal Aid I worked at Family Safety Victoria as their Aboriginal Policy and Engagement Manager.

‘This entailed providing leadership in the Aboriginal family violence space and working with the community and across government to manage a family violence governance structure.

‘The governance structure consisted of 11 Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Groups, the Aboriginal Family Violence Co-Design Forum and the Indigenous Family Partnership Forum,’ said Alan.

Alan’s distinguished career with the Queensland Police Service has also provided him with invaluable experience managing staff and dealing with local communities.

‘The last 10 years of my policing career saw me working closely with my own people throughout the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York Peninsula regions.

‘As the Officer in Charge of many police stations throughout these regions, I was a manager and a leader to not only my staff, but also the wider Indigenous community.’

Associate Director Aboriginal Services Alan Dewis
Associate Director Aboriginal Services Alan Dewis

No newbie to Victoria Legal Aid, having previously been a part of our New Lawyers Program, Alan was attracted back to the organisation for a number of reasons.

‘My previous lawyering at Victoria Legal Aid certainly left me with such a positive view of the staff and the culture of the organisation that I wanted to be involved in it again.

‘Also, as Victoria Legal Aid is the largest mainstream legal service in Victoria, I thought it was a great opportunity to take a leadership role within the organisation, and contribute to the wider Aboriginal community vision – seeing that Aboriginal people have access to an equitable justice system that is shaped by self-determination, and which protects and upholds their human, civil and legal rights.

‘In achieving this wider community vision, I also have the opportunity to influence, shape and transform our organisation so it is a culturally appropriate, responsive and culturally safe service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients,’ he said.

Asked about how his position will benefit Indigenous Victorians, Alan believes the role is about maintaining and making new relationships.

‘I will continue to maintain relationships with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Djirra, look for opportunities to establish new relationships with non-legal Aboriginal community controlled organisations and be an interface between Victoria Legal Aid and the Aboriginal community to honour the principles of Aboriginal self-determination.’

Quizzed on what will be the key to success in his role, Alan doesn’t hesitate.

‘In all my previous jobs, the key to my success has been respectful relationships and treating others in a way that I expected to be treated.

‘The importance of community engagement with Indigenous communities involves establishing and maintaining relationships.

‘I have managed many difficult situations across communities, and even when decisions have been made that aren’t supported by community, I’ve maintained respect and positive relationships due to my core principles of honesty, transparency and accountability,’ said Alan

More information

Read about 2019 NAIDOC Week

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