Established by volunteers in 1973, this service sought to combat disproportionate and unjust impacts of the legal system on Aboriginal people in Victoria.
The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service was officially established in 1973 after members of the community took legal academics to a local pub at closing time where they witnessed Fitzroy police indiscriminately arresting Aboriginal people, regardless of whether they had been drinking or not. Prior to the formation of the Service, legal representation had been conducted by a team of volunteers, some of whom were members of the National Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and the Aborigines Advancement League. These volunteers visited incarcerated Aboriginal people, organised bail and represented them at court hearings for many years before the Legal Service was established. Some of these volunteers included Stewart Murray, Les Booth, Alick Jackomos, Merle Jackomos, Hyllus Maris, Margaret (Briggs) Wirrapunda, Dan Atkinson, Jim Berg, Julia Jones and Geraldine Briggs; as well as Ron Merkel QC, Gareth Evans QC, Ron Castan AM QC, Peter Hanks QC, and Dr Elizabeth Eggleston.