First Nations lawyers, psychologists and people with a lived experience of trauma gather to ensure First Nations voices are at the centre of With You Training

10 October 2023

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day 2023 is an opportunity for legal assistance services to unite behind the theme “Mental health is a universal human right”. We all know the impending referendum on the Voice in Parliament is having a significant impact on the wellbeing of First Nations people and communities. It is more important than ever that legal services take the time to listen deeply to First Nations people and clients.

The With You Training Project is a groundbreaking training initiative for the legal assistance sector. It ensures that legal services are trauma-informed and rights-based by giving clients with a history of trauma an important say in how legal services are delivered to them. While most clients of the legal assistance sector have experienced some trauma, lawyers are not adequately trained to recognise and respond.

First Nations people, including clients, are designing trauma-informed, rights-based, training for lawyers and other staff working in the legal assistance sector. This approach means that lawyers provide services in a way that clients truly want, rather than relying on what lawyers think clients want.

The First Nations Advisory Group met for the first time on 9 October 2023. The members came from across the country and consisted of clients of the legal assistance sector and their families, lawyers, psychologists and mental health clinicians. The Advisory Group's input is essential to ensuring the training meets the needs of clients and the legal assistance sector.

The Advisory Group drew upon their broad and extensive expertise to grapple with issues such as what a trauma-informed approach means to First Nations people. They provided their perspectives on what lawyers need to know when working with First Nations clients who have experienced distress, poor mental health and suicidality. They shared deep knowledge about honouring people's stories and the best ways and locations to conduct culturally sensitive national consultations with First Nations clients and lawyers.

With You Training promotes a human rights-based approach, listening deeply and entrusting those who have used legal assistance services to lead the design for trauma-informed training. With You Training will be available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Community Legal Centres and Legal Aid Commissions in 2024.

Legal Aid NSW was granted Commonwealth funding, on behalf of a consortium of Legal Aid Commissions, to lead the development and delivery of the training package nationally from 2022 to 2025.

Media contact: Jennifer Chen
With You Training Manager:


First Nations Leaders at Legal Aid NSW meeting

Inaugural meeting of First Nations Advisory Group for With You Training
Top row (L to R): Rocket Bretherton, Jennifer Chen, Stephanie Monck, Darryl Gardiner, Marni Tuala, Claudine Tule
Bottom row (L to R): Emma Field, Tiarnee Schafer, Vanessa Edwige, Margaret Hornagold, Arna Rathgen