Indigenous Legal Issues

2015/16 Annual Report

The Indigenous Legal Issues Committee is currently comprised of nine law graduates and one law student. This has better resourced the Committee in order to be able to actively address the wide range of significant legal issues impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Committee has also joined with representatives from the Law Society’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee, Access to Justice Committee and Criminal Law Committee to lead a strategic campaign in relation to justice reinvestment and incarceration rates within the Law Society which is progressing well with a number of policy papers sitting with Law Society’s Council for approval.

The Committee supported the implementation of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for the Law Society and will continue to assist in the development of the next phase of the RAP.

The Law Society Mentoring Programme for Indigenous law students is currently in its sixth year since being resurrected. The Committee is working to develop its relationships with each of the universities in order to ensure the success of this valuable programme and we now have participants from a range of universities. The Mentoring Programme includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in any year of their law degree.

The Committee continues to work closely with the Francis Burt Legal Education Programme to provide input and advice in relation to programmes and initiatives being developed by the Programme. This includes the ‘Let’s Put Our Heads Together’ educational campaign targeting Aboriginal youth in both metropolitan and regional Western Australia and providing education about legal rights and responsibilities to school and community groups. The programme is likely to involve the development of a series of culturally appropriate short films targeting Aboriginal youth contact with the Police as well as a social media campaign and two-way learning model between the target audience and WA Police. The programme is currently seeking funding to support its further development.

The Committee has also maintained its commitment to communicating on issues of importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is currently working on developing a set of cultural protocols and guidelines for practitioners representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Western Australia.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford, advocacy@lawsocietywa.asn.au