The ALRC is committed to ensuring that all Australians are able to contribute to shaping the laws that affect them, and have the opportunity to participate in the law reform process. The ALRC acknowledges that it must be responsive to the needs of all members of the Australian community.
During 2012–13, the ALRC developed its Workplace Diversity Statement committing the ALRC to foster a diverse workforce and ensure that its recruitment processes are fair and accessible including a commitment to attract and recruit people from diverse backgrounds and, wherever possible, to participate in whole-of-APS recruitment programs.
The ALRC has also worked to produce its Agency Multicultural Plan that will guide our work towards meaningful and ongoing dialogue with people from diverse backgrounds. The ALRC has committed to:
engage and consult with diverse groups, individuals and organisations;
promote diverse representation in the ALRC workforce and internship program;
promote understanding of issues relevant to diverse peoples amongst ALRC staff; and
consider the impact on diverse peoples in developing recommendations for reform.
Agency Multicultural Plan (AMP)
During 2012–13 the ALRC formed a Diversity Working Group incorporating our Reconciliation Action Group. One of the key tasks was to develop the ALRC’s Multicultural Plan and to give substance to our commitment to multicultural access, equity and social inclusion. As a law reform body, the ALRC has the opportunity to contribute to social justice, equity and inclusion in Australia through reform of laws appropriate to the diversity of the Australian community. The ALRC has committed to engaging and consulting with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) organisations and communities and to considering the impact on CALD communities when formulating recommendations for law reform. In the first year of the Multicultural Plan, the ALRC will concentrate on the area of engagement, ensuring that CALD communities are able to engage actively in our consultation processes. The ALRC’s AMP is available on the ALRC website.
Reconciliation Action Plan update
The ALRC sees reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as comprising both processes and outcomes—requiring meaningful and ongoing dialogue between Indigenous peoples and the ALRC. Respect for Indigenous peoples, participation of Indigenous peoples in ALRC inquiries, and consideration and understanding of issues that are important to Indigenous peoples, are considered essential features of the ALRC’s commitment to reconciliation.
The ALRC recognises that historically the Australian legal system has failed to deliver equitable social and economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples. As a law reform body, the ALRC has the opportunity to contribute to social justice, equity and inclusion in Australia.
The ALRC has a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that was originally developed in 2009, and is reported on and updated biennially. Our reports are published on the ALRC website. The next update and report is due in June 2014.
The ALRC recognises that its RAP needs to achieve practical outcomes. Therefore, the ALRC commits to:
engage and consult with Indigenous groups, individuals and organisations;
promote Indigenous representation in the ALRC workforce and internship program;
promote a meaningful understanding of issues relevant to Indigenous peoples amongst ALRC staff;
consider the impact on Indigenous peoples in developing recommendations for reform; and
strive in all aspects of our work to protect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples.
The ALRC has developed consultation strategies that assist in identifying Indigenous stakeholders for particular inquiries. The ALRC is committed to ensuring that our consultation strategies reflect the diversity of circumstances of Indigenous communities and, where possible, the ALRC will take special measures to ensure that our processes are accessible and open, including using interpreters or Indigenous consultants, taking oral submissions and adopting other flexible consultation methods.
During 2012–13, the ALRC consulted with the following organisations with regards to the Age Barriers Inquiry:
Aboriginal Legal Service, WA
Hewitt Whyman (Aboriginal Legal Service ACT/NSW/Gannambarra Enterprises)
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
We also consulted with a number of community legal centres and similar groups who represent Indigenous clients.
The ALRC provides feedback to Indigenous communities about the results of consultations and/or inquiries in a number of ways including by using the ALRC website, through fact sheets, articles in publications and through conferences and seminars. A fact sheet was produced for the Age Barriers to Work Inquiry outlining the key recommendations aimed at removing barriers to workforce participation for Indigenous mature age people. A paper was given at the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Conference on Family Violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, based on the ALRC’s work on the Commonwealth Laws and Family Violence Inquiry.
The ALRC celebrated National Reconciliation Week attending NAIDOC celebrations held in Hyde Park by the City of Sydney. ALRC staff also attended an event at the Australian Government Solicitors Office for National Reconciliation Week and heard Michael West, Member and Cultural Representative of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) speak about the Indigenous history of Sydney including that of the Aboriginal Medical Service and Aboriginal Legal Service.