The ALRC’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) outlines the ALRC’s vision for reconciliation and the strategies that the ALRC will adopt to contribute to and promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The ALRC believes that the laws of Australia must have proper regard to Indigenous interests, and must protect and promote Indigenous culture and improve social and economic outcomes for Indigenous people. In particular, for the ALRC, respect for Indigenous peoples; participation and representation of Indigenous peoples; and consideration and understanding of issues that are important to Indigenous peoples are essential features of the journey to, and achievement of, reconciliation in Australia and these ideas form the basis for the current RAP.
Since launching its first RAP in April 2009, the ALRC has developed and achieved a number of the initiatives which involve both practical and symbolic steps towards reconciliation. In order to implement and monitor the RAP, the ALRC established a RAP Committee that is chaired by the Executive Director, with representation from across the organisation. The RAP Committee is responsible for developing the ALRC’s RAP, and for monitoring, delivering and evaluating these initiatives. The ALRC’s RAP Committee has held two meetings during 2009–10 in November and April.
The ALRC RAP Committee, front from left to right: Ms Sara Peel, Professor Rosalind Croucher, Ms Katherine McGree, Ms Christina Raymond, Ms Sabina Wynn; back from left to right: Mr Greg Diggs, Ms Tina O’Brien, Mr Khanh Hoang, Ms Carolyn Kearney, Ms Amanda Alford, Ms Marie-Claire Muir, Ms Maha Melhem.
The ALRC has established an Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) and two meetings have been held—on 19 August 2009 and on the 28 July 2010 (just outside this reporting period). The IAC provides input on all activities of the ALRC including the development of an Indigenous Consultation Strategy for the current Family Violence Inquiry, the setting up of an Indigenous internship program, suggestions for future inquiries and development of our RAP. The ALRC issued a media release regarding the inaugural IAC meeting (Historic first meeting of the ALRC’s Indigenous Advisory Committee) on 15 September 2009 and a number of radio interviews followed with BBM FM in Cairns and the Talk Black program, on Koori Radio in Sydney. Reconciliation Australia also ran a story on the meeting in its November newsletter. A list of members of the IAC is at Appendix D.
The development of an Indigenous Consultation Strategy (the Strategy) for the Family Violence Inquiry was a key achievement for the ALRC this year. This was developed with input from the IAC, RAP Committee, and legal officers and articulated the way in which the ALRC could appropriately engage with Indigenous stakeholders andcommunities with specific reference to the current inquiry. The Strategy acknowledged that family violence is a significant issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As was noted in the Report of the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009–2021 (2009):
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women report higher levels of physical violence during their lifetime than do non-Aboriginal and non-Torres Strait Islander Australian women, and they are much more likely to experience sexual violence and to sustain injury.
The Strategy was also reflective of the fact that the focus of the ALRC’s Inquiry is what, if any, improvements can be made to relevant legal frameworks, with a particular focus on how the numerous laws across and within jurisdictions interact. Therefore, the ALRC’s approach to consultation for the Family Violence Inquiry was to consult with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts (including people who work in the field in legal centres, women’s centres and in community and non government organisations, as well as with judges, lawyers and academics) and representative bodies rather than with affected individuals in the community. This approach informed the ALRC’s approach to consultation for the Inquiry more generally, as well as to the Indigenous Consultation Strategy.
The ALRC recognises the need to continue to build upon existing networks and contacts with Indigenous communities and Indigenous academic networks, in part because it is this contact that will assist us to involve Indigenous people in our programs and activities. The ALRC is hopeful that its indigenous internship program may be one way of sourcing future Indigenous legal staff.
The ALRC’s RAP commits the organisation to regular cross cultural training for all staff. Building upon previous cultural awareness training delivered by Tranby Aboriginal College in February 2009, additional training is planned for November 2010. The ALRC has reviewed its RAP and reported against actions to help the organisation evaluate the strategies and initiatives that have been achieved and those that are still to be realised, and to articulate the lessons learnt in this process to date.
Another initiative was the launch on 24 September 2009 of a new online consultation tool, promoted on the ALRC’s website. The online consultation tool requests comments and ideas: about consulting with Indigenous peoples and communities; about future law reform inquiries of particular benefit to Indigenous people and communities; and encouraging Indigenous law students to participate in the ALRC’s internship program. To date the ALRC has received 11 responses to this online consultation tool.
Finally, as expressed publicly during NAIDOC Week in July 2010, the ALRC is indebted to the many people who give their time, careful consideration and expertise to the ALRC in its research work. This year’s NAIDOC week theme recognised ‘the many unsung Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have made huge contributions to Australian society’. The ALRC acknowledged and paid tribute to all the Indigenous Australians who have very generously given their time and supported us in our Inquiry into Family Violence, who have met and consulted with us, participated in our online forums, made formal submissions and given us the benefit of their experiences and incredible stories—Indigenous Australians working in community legal services, in refuges, rape crisis centres, in children’s services, in the police and in government services, and in other community organisations.
In particular the ALRC would like to acknowledge and thank the following organisations, amongst others:
- The North Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service;
- North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency;
- Top End Women’s Legal Service;
- Dawn House;
- Darwin Aboriginal and Islander Women’s Shelter;
- Darwin Domestic Violence Legal Service;
- Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit;
- Central Australian Women’s Legal Service;
- Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service;
- Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankuytjatjara Women’s Council;
- the National Indigenous Family Violence Prevention Forum;
- the Aboriginal Legal Service;
- Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre;
- Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service Victoria; and
- National Indigenous Family Violence Prevention Forum.
The ALRC also acknowledges and thanks the Aboriginal women’s legal services and family violence prevention legal centres across the country who participated in our online forum, including:
- National Network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Legal Services;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Legal and Advisory Service (Qld);
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Women’s Legal Service North Queensland;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (Victoria);
- Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre—Family Violence Project (WA);
- Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Cooperative Ltd (Vic);
- North Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service (NT); and
- Yamatji Family Violence Protection Legal Service (WA).
The ALRC also received significant support from a number of individuals and thanked them for their generosity and commitment to helping us in our task of reforming the law to achieve greater safety for women and children; Megan Davis, Hannah McGlade, Dorinda Cox, Victoria Hovane, Kylie Cripps, Louise Taylor, Antoinette Braybrook, Larissa Behrendt and many others.
Through the development of the RAP and our engagement with Indigenous people and organisations, the ALRC is increasingly aware of the importance of letting those we have consulted with know about the progress of an Inquiry and the implementation of recommendations, particularly where their input may have led to a particular outcome, especially if it is a positive one. This is an important commitment to make to all those people who consult with the ALRC.
The ALRC’s RAP and detailed RAP report are available on the ALRC’s website.
Windstorm Over the Desert
The artwork, Windstorm Over the Desert, was produced by Maurice A Shipp for the purposes of promoting the ALRC’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The artwork description provided by Maurice Shipp is included in the RAP as follows.
The red represents the ochre of the desert.
The yellow represents the slopes of the sand dunes with the brown and white representing each peak within the dunes.
The brown and the white also represent the high points and the low points in the work of the ALRC.
The ranges also represent paths of knowledge leading to a journey of knowledge that each
individual within the organization is working toward collectively.
The white circles and spiral shapes represent both an individual windstorm and a group of storms following, the individual windstorm represents movement and the combination of both the singular and the group signifies that change is looming.
A change in direction, a new direction, a positive change that will allow a renewed sense of purpose and growth.