Progressing our Reconciliation Action Plan benefits our clients, community and staff

Progressing our Reconciliation Action Plan benefits our clients, community and staff

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

As part of our NAIDOC Week celebrations we’re pleased to share our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP2) mid-term progress report. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic we completed 80 per cent of the first-year goals, as at July 2020.

RAP2 commits us to taking actions to develop and strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, engaging staff and stakeholders in cultural learning, and developing and piloting innovative strategies to embed reconciliation as a part of our everyday business.

Key achievements in the first year of RAP2 include launching our Cultural Learning Strategy, and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy, reviewing and updating our cultural protocols practices, as well as strengthening our existing relationships with practice partners Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and Djirra by continuing to support their self-determination and capacity through funding agreements and mutual training opportunities.

Services and Innovation Executive Director, Peter Noble, said, ‘the report shows how building our relationships with Aboriginal legal services partners and communities is essential to improving services for First Nations people.

‘Our Aboriginal Community Engagement Officers (ACEOs) in Morwell, Shepparton and Mildura continue to deepen local relationships and provide vital connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and legal and non-legal services.

‘The involvement of one of our ACE officers at a community roundtable led to a new direct priority referral pathway between Victoria Legal Aid and the Energy Ombudsman and Telecommunications Ombudsman. This is especially helpful as these types of referrals are usually very urgent as clients have no gas, water or electricity connected,’ said Peter.

The ACE program is being expanded and we are currently recruiting for two new ACE officer roles in Geelong and Ballarat.

In addition, the establishment and support of our First Nations Staff Network has played a key role developing and strengthening our relationships internally. Support for reconciliation is evident across our organisation, including board and executive representation on our RAP2 Champions Network.

Victoria Legal Aid Board member and RAP Champion John O’Donoghue said, ‘Victoria Legal Aid’s commitment to making reconciliation part of our everyday business is evident in the passion of our RAP Champions Network. They have enthusiastically embraced the changes required to achieve our RAP goals and have taken practical actions to improve our organisation’s cultural learning and competency.’

We still have work to do and our commitment to achieving our RAP2 goals remains a priority as we move into the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Highlights

  • 80 per cent (69) of the 2019–20 deliverables were completed by July 2020. This includes 50 ongoing annual targets achieved in the period July 2019 to July 2020, and 19 once-off deliverables.
  • For the first time VLA Chambers was briefed by VALS lawyers
  • Cultural Learning Strategy launched
  • 454 staff completed our ‘Other ways of knowing’ eLearning module.
  • 251 staff participated in ‘Aboriginal Cultural Awareness’ training run by the Koorie Heritage Trust.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy launched
  • At July 2020, 2.5 per cent of our staff are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, which is a 0.7 per cent increase since July 2019.
  • Our First Nations Staff Network developed their 2020 strategic priorities ensuring their collective voice are heard and embedded in work across our organisation.

More information

Read the RAP2 mid-term progress report (pdf, 4.66 MB) or accessible Word version (docx, 68.42 KB)

View the RAP2 mid-term progress report snapshot (pdf, 457.35 KB) or accessible Word version (docx, 181.58 KB)

Read more about the RAP2.

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