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RAP launched

Briefs

Cite as: October 2012 86 (10) LIJ, p.13

The LIV launched its Reconciliation Action Plan 2012/13 (RAP) – an important step towards achieving Indigenous equality – on 4 September. LIV president Michael Holcroft said the RAP detailed 50 actions designed to achieve 20 reconciliation objectives within the next year.

He said the RAP also sought to help foster a legal profession that valued Indigenous culture and actively included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ranks of the profession.

“We have an obligation to promote human rights and equality before the law,” Mr Holcroft said. “The [objectives] are designed to be practical and many are initiatives that lawyers and law firms could incorporate into their own activities.”

These activities include employment, community partnerships and law reform.

A panel discussion on the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians Report (http://tinyurl.com/cagxh3v), released on 19 January this year, followed the launch and considered the question whether constitutional reform was the true path to reconciliation.

The discussion included an overview and assessment of the report’s recommendations and considered what needed to be done to effect changes to the Australian Constitution.

Yorta Yorta man and former Aboriginal Affairs Victoria executive director Ian Hamm and Wiradjuri man and Melbourne University senior lecturer Dr Mark McMillan told the audience of over 150 that they were both opposed to tokenism but said the recommendations were “better than nothing”.

Monash University Castan Centre for Human Rights Law deputy director Melissa Castan agreed that “while some symbolism was important” the recommendations were “not enough”.

“Practical outcomes are more important and some (recommendations) do not do that and have not quite come up to international standards,” she said. Mr Holcroft said achieving Indigenous equality required a change in attitude across Australian society.

“We need to consider whether recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution might be the catalyst for the sort of attitudinal shift which needs to happen if we are to achieve true reconciliation,” he said.

To view the RAP, visit www.liv.asn.au/About-LIV/Advocacy-and-Projects/Indigenous-Issues-and-Aboriginal-Reconciliation.

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