Progress against our Reconciliation Action Plan

Progress against our Reconciliation Action Plan

Monday, 5 June 2017

Image of Bevan Warner speaking during VLA's smoking ceremony
Managing Director Bevan Warner speaking at our National Sorry Day event.

During National Reconciliation Week, we took time to reflect on the milestones we have achieved against our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Now in its second year, the RAP provides measurable steps to improve our service response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Key achievements

In December 2016, we launched the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy 2016–18. The employment strategy provides measurable actions to ensure we are an organisation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want to work at, while also aiming to improve service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

One of the actions arising from the RAP was to create Aboriginal Community Engagement Officers (ACE) as a way of improving access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to legal assistance.

In January, we welcomed Erin Rose and Jessica McDonald as our ACE officers. Erin is based in Melbourne’s Civil Law Program, Jessica is based in Morwell and Bairnsdale, and the new Mildura service will be home to our third ACE officer. 

The two-year pilot program supports the delivery of legal assistance services in family and civil law to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

This year, we held our first official event in recognition of National Sorry Day, 26 May.

Aunty Di Kerr, her daughter Michelle and grandson Jayden Mills were welcomed to Victoria Legal Aid and our new premises at 570 Bourke Street, knowing it is on Wurundjerri land. Aunty Di performed a sentimental Welcome to Country while Jayden carried out a Smoking Ceremony.  Our Associate Director of Aboriginal Services, Meena Singh, shared her personal reflections and experiences that relate to Sorry Day. ​Managing Director, Bevan Warner, said sorry on behalf of Victoria Legal Aid and all staff​.

'Sorry for the hurt, sorry for the pain, sorry for the sustained efforts to deny Indigenous Australians their unique and individual cultures.’

Our RAP holds us to account, to ensure we play our part in responding to justice issues impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The plans

Learn more about Victoria Legal Aid’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy 2016–18 and Victoria Legal Aid’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

Read Bevan’s speech

Read an extract from Managing Director Bevan Warner’s speech at VLA’s special Sorry Day ceremony.