The Law Council of Australia hopes to increase the number of practising Indigenous lawyers in the move toward equal representation via a new policy statement released this week.
The policy statement will see the Law Council commit to addressing Indigenous disadvantage and promoting Indigenous participation in the study and practice of law.
Law Council President, Glenn Ferguson, launched the initiative in Darwin yesterday and said it involved working with Indigenous associations, Australian law schools, law practices and the state and territory law societies and bar associations to develop pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into legal practice.
"This is the first policy statement of its kind for the entire legal profession. It recognises that all Australian lawyers can play a part in addressing Indigenous disadvantage," Ferguson said.
The policy statement guides the Law Council's approach to legal and public policy issues affecting Indigenous Australians, covering a broad range of fields including criminal justice, human rights, land rights, native title, customary law, legal education and reconciliation.
More than 60 Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders were publicly consulted during the policy development process which was conducted by the Law Council's Indigenous Legal Issues Committee.
Although Australian firms have already invested in similar programs and there are already several law graduate assistance programs in each jurisdiction, Ferguson emphasised that more needs to be done.
"It is my hope that with concerted effort and partnership, the legal profession and Indigenous bodies can dramatically increase the number of practising Indigenous lawyers toward equal representation within a generation," he said.