For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entities seeking legal help

LawHelp is a referral service provided in partnership with some of Australia's top lawyers and law firms who volunteer their time and expertise. It can help you interpret and comply with laws and manage the legal side of registration and many other legal issues.

Who is eligible to use the service?

LawHelp can refer an entity for pro bono legal assistance if it is either:

  • seeking help to register or transfer its incorporation to the CATSI Act
  • a not-for-profit Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander corporation already registered under the CATSI Act

What matters can LawHelp help resolve?

If you are registering with, or transferring your incorporation to the CATSI Act, you can apply for help with:

  • drafting of complex rule book provisions
  • taxation consequences of transferring
  • amendments to contracts
  • change of registered legal name of assets—for example, land and vehicles
  • interpreting the provisions of the state or territory legislation under which the entity is registered or incorporated
  • drafting of meeting notices or advice to members and employees about the transfer process.

Not-for-profit corporations already registered under the CATSI Act can seek help with:

  • interpreting the law
  • contracts—drafting, negotiation and management
  • employment issues—such as employment contracts, workers’ compensation law, occupational health and safety obligations and how to apply employment legislation, for example, the Fair Work Act 2009
  • basic tax issues—such as registering for an ABN and for GST, FBT and PAYG withholding, and assessing whether a corporation should apply for concessional income tax, FBT and/or GST treatment
  • how to comply with laws applying to the corporation, identify and manage legal risks and develop appropriate disclaimers (including for websites, buildings and publications)
  • consumer protection and trade practices issues
  • legal issues relating to information and communication technology
  • intellectual property arrangements—such as copyright and moral rights protection and infringement, registration and maintenance of trade marks, business names and domain names, and the commercialisation of a corporation’s intellectual property rights
  • real estate / property matters—such as buying, selling, constructing or leasing premises, licences, easements and other planning issues.

What's beyond the scope of LawHelp?

LawHelp cannot help your corporation with:

  • native title—the Commonwealth provides help for people with native title claims through funded native title representative bodies (NTRBs) and native title service providers (NTSPs)
  • legal action in any court or tribunal
  • any matter that potentially conflicts with the Australian Government's or any of its agencies’ interests—such as Commonwealth funding agreements, Indigenous land use agreements, township leases or other contractual arrangements, or any dispute that involves the Australian Government or any of its agencies.

Sometimes a LawHelp lawyer will be unable to give advice because of a conflict of interest or other issue.

If ORIC's LawHelp service is unable to assist your entity, other organisations might be able to. The Australian Pro Bono Centre provides links to key Australian state and territory pro bono referral schemes and organisations.

Is there a cost for using LawHelp?

There is no charge for submitting an application to LawHelp. Lawyers to whom successful applications are referred—see the list below—provide their services free of charge, or pro bono.

Pro bono

Pro bono comes from the latin ‘pro bono publico’ meaning for the public good. Pro bono legal services usually mean free or almost free legal help.

In some circumstances, the entity may be asked to contribute some expenses incurred by the volunteer legal service provider, such as filing fees for documents, large amounts of photocopying, costs of interpreters or travel. Any proposed charges are discussed with the entity beforehand.

What's the process for applications?

Find out about the process of applying for legal assistance and what happens next.

Which lawyers provide the legal help?

The LawHelp service works with some excellent lawyers and law firms who contribute their time and expertise for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. See the list of lawyers and firms below.

Other lawyers and law firms can find out more about the service and express interest in joining LawHelp.

More questions?

Contact the LawHelp secretariat on freecall 1800 622 431 (not free from mobiles) or email LawHelp@oric.gov.au.

Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation

For Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation, LawHelp provided just what was needed to secure its future. Throw in a bit of touch footy and a feed, and it’s safe to say that the lawyers, staff and clients also found friendship:

We’ve used LawHelp on many occasions and for some of our organisation’s most critical issues. Not only has LawHelp enabled us to access quality and reliable legal advice (that we could not afford otherwise), it has also enabled us to create relationships.

Joe Coyte, CEO of ‘The Glen’, the drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre run by Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation

Contributing lawyers and law firms