This week the Queensland Law Society (QLS) has unveiled an action plan that it hopes will “model unity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians”.
Access to justice is the core focus of the plan and will involve advocacy work, as well as offer support and creation of opportunities for education by local lawyers.
QLS president Christine Smyth said that the reconciliation action plan (RAP) will primarily look at the overrepresentation of First Nations Peoples in the justice system and their underrepresentation in the profession.
“This is a substantial step for the society and the profession as a whole towards reconciliation in our nation.”
“It is also about improving access to our legal system for budding lawyers who identify as First Nations Peoples along with supporting our current Indigenous lawyers and Indigenous people who work in the solicitor’s branch of the legal profession,” Ms Smyth said.
The RAP’s three pillars commit the QLS to undertaking what it can to advance Indigenous issues under the themes of ‘profession, student and community’. In this way, Ms Smyth suggested that the society would be taking the first very first steps since it was founded 183 years ago to truly work towards a better future for all people.
“This is a substantial step for the society and the profession as a whole towards reconciliation in our nation,” Ms Smyth said.
“I encourage others in our profession and wider community to look at the ways they can assist in promoting reconciliation.”
The QLS president added that the initiative was developed by members with a passion for an inclusive and diverse legal profession.
“This plan incorporates not only the vast knowledge of Queensland solicitors, but also their passion for an inclusive and diverse profession,” Ms Smyth said.
“To my mind, diversity is more than gender and age. It encompasses culture and experience. Diversity and inclusion broaden our vision and strengthen our capabilities, and this underpins a greater community engagement,” she said.
The solicitor’s reconcilation action plan was launched at a special event hosted by the QLS on Wednesday, 5 July. The event was attended by Indigenous elders, government and judiciary representatives.
Pictured above: The RAP working group with QLS president Christine Smyth and immediate past president Bill Potts.