History and Philosophy

Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS) is one of 200 community legal centres (CLCs) around Australia. These centres are set up to provide legal services to disadvantaged people, deliver community legal education, and undertake law reform projects. They focus on ‘justice’ rather than ‘the law’, and rely on the support of the community, and the participation of skilled volunteers.

DCLS began in 1991 when volunteer lawyers provided free legal advice sessions in Darwin and surrounds. Over time, the service expanded its geographical coverage and the range of matters on which it provided assistance.

In 1993 DCLS published the first edition of the Northern Territory Law Handbook, which is now into its 4th edition. In 1994 DCLS held its first Human Rights Art Award and Exhibition –  Rights on Show.

DCLS has championed gay and lesbian law reform, worked for the establishment of an Aboriginal interpreter service in the Territory, and campaigned against mandatory sentencing.

In 2000, DCLS was awarded the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s prestigious National Human Rights Award for Community Service.

DCLS continues to provide free legal advice sessions each week, and assists an increasing number of disadvantaged Territorians to uphold their legal rights.

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