32 COMMUNITY | LEGAL SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHT 2016 RECONCILIATION IN AUSTRALIA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation encourages cooperation and improved harmony between First Australians and the wider Australian community. Reconciliation is a journey of building trust and respect and closing the gaps in opportunity. The history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander treatment since European settlement has led to indigenous people experiencing lower levels of inclusion in mainstream society and a legacy of disadvantage and in-equality. A reconciliation process is major step in providing a better understanding of how our history has shaped our relationships, connection and respect for each other’s culture. A formal process examining how to achieve recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution has been underway since 2011. In May 2017 the Government’s Referendum Council hosted a National Constitutional Convention at Uluru including over 250 Aboriginal delegates from across Australia. They issued the Uluru Statement from the Heart with a recommendation being for an Indigenous voice to be added parliament. Reconciliation Australia’s inaugural State of Reconciliation in Australia report defines reconciliation as having five dimensions; historical acceptance, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and race relations. In Australia the legal profession has played a unique role in the development of formal reconciliation programs over their first twenty-five years and has a long history of working to improve equality and equity and reconciliation through its support for Indigenous Australians in each of these five dimensions including; • support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Centres • direct pro bono services for individuals and groups • secondments of staff to and from firms • development of Indigenous lawyers • strategic partnership including sponsorships, corporate giving and volunteering • Reconciliation Action Plans through Reconciliation Australia (from the date) • National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week activities • a more diversified supply chain through procurement from Indigenous-owned businesses Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program provides a framework for organisations to realise their vision for reconciliation based around the themes of Respect Relationships and Opportunities RAPs provide a range of benefits to law firms including • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employer of choice opportunities • a more culturally connected safe and tolerant workplace • a more dynamic, innovative and diverse workforce. • market access and penetration • better service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. 2017 AusLSA Member Performance Fifty-six percent of reporting firms either have an indigenous reconciliation policy or had one in preparation and of all but one firm has shared their approved policies publicly. Seventy seven percent of firms had formal management structures in place to implement these policies and FORMAL POLICY PUBLISHED POLICY 93% 7% Yes No POLICY PUBLISHED POLICY 45% 21% 21% 12% Yes No Currently in Development Not Reported