Indigenous Legal Needs Project (ILNP)

The Indigenous Legal Needs Project is a national study into civil and family law need of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  In October, the ILNP released a written report of its Queensland findings, and produced a short animated film in order to report back to the broader community on the research in a more accessible format than the written reports.

The Indigenous Legal Needs Project (ILNP) is a collaboration between James Cook University (JCU), the University of NSW, University of Technology and legal services in a number of jurisdictions (including Legal Aid Commissions and Aboriginal Legal Services).  The research aims to provide a greater understanding of the civil and family law needs of Indigenous people based on consultation with Indigenous communities; an understanding of what is successful in the current service delivery structure and what is not working; and strategies to enable legal service providers to deliver more effective civil and family law services to Indigenous people so as to affect an increased usage of these services by Indigenous clients.

ICAN participated in the ILNP research project based at James Cook University (JCU) in Cairns. Our participation in the research gave ICAN the opportunity to input into the national project, on consumer and financial issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers in North Queensland and the Torres Strait and discuss barriers ICAN clients often face when trying to deal with financial institutions, debt collection agencies, tenancy support services and access legal assistance.

The ILNP research identified substantial levels of civil and family law need and poor levels of access to civil and family law justice across Indigenous communities in Queensland.  The Queensland findings highlight: Housing (tenancy), credit and debt, disputes with neighbours, discrimination and child protection are the most pressing legal issues in Queensland communities, with social security, wills and victims compensation being the other priority issues identified.  Significant findings from the Queensland report include:

  • 44.1% of all community respondents had problems with their tenancies, often about repairs and maintenance and access to housing;
  • 34.7% had difficulties or disputes involving neighbours;
  • 31.6% have been discriminated against, mostly in housing, employment and by ‘services’ (police, schools, shops, health).
  • Legal action over unpaid debts (often connected with consumer law-related issues) (26.0%) and removal of children by government (25.5%) affected around 25% of respondents. Consumer law is prioritised in Qld so far as it crosses over into credit/debt: for example, where people are not understanding contractual obligations (including under hire purchase, with TELCOs), leading to debt.

The Queensland ILNP report is available at:

The Queensland animated film is available on the JCU website at:

View on Youtube at:


For more information about the ILNP research, contact Fiona Allison, Senior Researcher at: or (07) 4042 1886.