MAURICE BLACKBURN. Reconciliation Action Plan

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1 MAURICE BLACKBURN Reconciliation Action Plan

2 Our Vision Maurice Blackburn strongly supports reconciliation and is committed to working to overcome division and inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-indigenous Australians. Specifically, we want to actively contribute to closing the gap in health, income and living standards between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. We have a long history of litigating and campaigning for social change and justice, and we strongly value fairness and equality. We are proud of our history of engaging with Aboriginal Australians and communities to promote reconciliation, in particular by provision of pro bono legal services and implementation of employment initiatives. We look forward to formalising and expanding our commitment to reconciliation. We recognise that the most effective way to do this is through: Working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities; Making the most of our strengths and sphere of influence as a leading Australian plaintiff law firm; and Articulating our intentions and commitment in a way that is meaningful and measurable. Maurice Blackburn supports reconciliation as necessary and valuable of itself. However we also consider that reconciliation is good for business, because our reconciliation initiatives will help to attract and retain loyal staff who share our values, foster a positive work environment for all staff, and lead to new opportunities for engaging with potential clients. OUR BUSINESS Maurice Blackburn is a leading Australian law firm with a strong commitment to social justice. We have around 710 employees across 26 offices across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, ACT and Western Australia. We act for people who have been injured or badly treated through the actions or inactions of others. We have expertise in cases involving work injury compensation, medical negligence, road and car accident injuries and asbestos diseases. We frequently act in significant cases impacting on the community, including high profile and significant class actions involving defective products, corporate misconduct and illegal cartels. As one of Australia s leading labour law firms we ve acted in many high profile employment law and industrial relations disputes, including acting for the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) in its 1998 landmark dispute against Patrick Stevedores. INDIGENOUS SUBCOMMITTEE A couple of years ago, Maurice Blackburn made a strategic decision to focus its social justice activities on what it does best providing expert legal services. Our Social Justice Practice takes on cases of broad community concern and in appropriate cases, provides legal services to organisations and individuals on a no charge (pro bono) or reduced charge basis. Our Social Justice Practice has led litigation in the public interest on behalf of refugees, workers who have been underpaid, and people who have been unfairly targeted by national security legislation. The Social Justice Practices includes an Indigenous Subcommittee, which undertakes public interest litigation of significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and pursues projects in furtherance of Indigenous rights and equality. Recently, the Indigenous Subcommittee brought a legal challenge against the Commonwealth Government and the Northern Land Council over plans for a radioactive waste dump on Indigenous land at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory. Maurice Blackburn has also assisted members of the Stolen Generation to make applications for compensation under statutory regimes and has assisted claimants to make Freedom of Information requests to records relating to their removal and housing. The Indigenous Subcommittee is responsible for drafting, implementing and overseeing Maurice Blackburn s RAP. OUR RAP Our priorities for our Reconciliation Action Plan are to: Promote and provide access to justice; Provide enhanced employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians; Facilitate positive cultural change within and outside Maurice Blackburn; and Develop and extend our relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, representative bodies and businesses. This RAP was developed by members of the Indigenous Subcommittee in consultation with various leadership bodies within the firm, as well as Reconciliation Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative bodies including Tarwirri. This Reconciliation Action Plan sets in place a targeted plan for effective and measurable action over the next 12 months, which will be reported on and refreshed in February In 2009, Maurice Blackburn s Women s Law Section (WLS) forged a relationship with Tarwirri. Tarwirri is the professional association for Indigenous solicitors, barristers and law students in Victoria, and is the only resourced body of its kind in Australia. It is the Indigenous equivalent of the Law Institute of Victoria, Law Society of NSW or Queensland Law Society. We hope to strengthen and continue this relationship and ensure that it is mutually beneficial.

3 1. RELATIONSHIPS Maurice Blackburn seeks to build and strengthen its relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, representative bodies and businesses. Strong relationships with Indigenous Australians will help us to: Understand what we can do to promote reconciliation; Understand the legal landscape as it is experienced by members of Aboriginal communities, which will help us to target our Social Justice Practice initiatives for maximum effect; Demonstrate our genuine commitment to reconciliation; and Encourage a diverse range of clients to do business with us. In 1995, Maurice Blackburn established a Women s Law Section (WLS). Over the last 15 years, the WLS has served as a body to: promote access by women to the judicial system provide support to women in Maurice Blackburn and the legal profession, and Offer financial and other support to various women s organisations. The WLS will assist to implement certain aspects of the RAP In 2010, the New South Wales branch of Maurice Blackburn s WLS forged a relationship with Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women s Legal Centre. Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women s Legal Centre is a statewide not-for-profit service run by Aboriginal women. It has a particular focus on assisting women and children with legal issues arising from domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women s Legal Centre also develops culturally appropriate resources for the Aboriginal community and provides culturalawareness training and advice to non-aboriginal organisations. We hope to continue to build an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship with this Centre into the future. Continue to nurture and strengthen our relationship with Tarwirri in order to understand each other s needs and explore opportunities for providing support and value to each other Build relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians Indigenous Subcommittee and Women s Law Section June 2013 Members of Indigenous Subcommittee and WLS to meet with representatives of Tarwirri on a quarterly basis to discuss opportunities for working together Continue to explore opportunities for MB to partner with Tarwirri in events and programs it arranges Continue to invite Tarwirri representatives to all client/sponsor events May 26 June Work with Tarwirri to hold an event during National Reconciliation Week and invite Maurice Blackburn staff and clients. New Relationships Develop a new mutually beneficial relationship with at least one other Indigenous community organisation Indigenous Affairs Group, Human Resources Quarterly from September 2012 Continue quarterly meetings with target organisation Update and monitor database of Indigenous contacts In pro bono matters, continue to build a reputation for credibility and excellence in representing Indigenous clients Indigenous Subcommittee, Marketing June 2013 Continue to use existing database to capture and make available information about Indigenous contacts Indigenous Subcommittee June 2013 Continue to seek and obtain feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in our pro bono matters

4 2. RESPECT Maurice Blackburn is committed to improving awareness of and respect for Indigenous peoples, cultures and histories. As one of Australia s largest plaintiff litigation firms, Maurice Blackburn is well-placed to generate publicity, debate and attitudinal change in relation to Indigenous issues through taking on high profile litigation in cases involving Indigenous rights and interests. Traditional owners and local community members rally against the proposed waste dump at Muckaty Station Cultural Development Policy Continue to publicise policy regarding cultural development for all staff Cultural Awareness Training Identification of accredited guest speaker to deliver cultural awareness training and seminars to staff Indigenous Subcommittee, Human Resources, COO Indigenous Subcommittee, Human Resources, COO June 2013 Continue to disseminate this Cultural Development policy across all Maurice Blackburn offices and make available on the intranet June 2013 Guest speaker engaged to deliver two Cultural Development seminars available to all staff through Continuing Legal Education seminars Offered to all staff within the firm and successfully delivered to all staff working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients Aim to have at least people attend Cultural Awareness Training over next year Welcome to Country Continue to promote awareness within MB of the importance of performing a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgment of Country Profile Increase the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures within the firm, including promotion of the Indigenous Subcommittee Indigenous Subcommittee, Marketing June 2013 An Acknowledgment of Country protocol has been developed with local Traditional Owners and made available to all staff Acknowledgment of Country performed at all Maurice Blackburn events A local Traditional Owner provides a Welcome to Country for all major public Maurice Blackburn events Indigenous Subcommittee June 2013 Continue to promote Subcommittee through internal firm publications Continue to publicise the Subcommittee and call for new members at the commencement of each year and at cultural events A Subcommittee representative to continue to deliver a presentation to each new staff intake on the existence, purpose and activities of the Indigenous Committee and the existence and value of our RAP Cultural Events Recognition and support of cultural events including: NAIDOC Week National Reconciliation Week. Mabo Day National Sorry Day Indigenous Subcommittee, Staff nationally June 2013 Two events attended by staff and/or held per year by Maurice Blackburn One event hosted by Maurice Blackburn per year 27 May 3 June 2013 Advise staff of the occurrence and significance of Reconciliation Week Hold an event to celebrate Indigenous cultures

5 3. OPPORTUNITIES Maurice Blackburn is committed to improving access to justice and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. As a firm, we want to attract and develop talented local people and broaden our client base. As one of Australia s leading plaintiff firms with a commitment to providing access to justice through its Social Justice Practice and No Win, No Fee arrangements, Maurice Blackburn is well-placed to litigate high profile or important public interest cases involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and interests. By exposing our lawyers to this work, we benefit from the skills they develop in what is often cutting edge public interest litigation and enhance our reputation as an innovative and leading Plaintiff law firm. In 2009, Maurice Blackburn commenced a pilot Indigenous Seasonal Clerkship Program. Maurice Blackburn now commits to making that program a permanent element of its recruitment. Through expanding and improving the Indigenous Seasonal Clerkship Program and implementing an Indigenous Trainee Lawyer Program, Maurice Blackburn aims to become the firm of choice for Indigenous clerks. Maurice Blackburn also strives to attract and increase Indigenous employees at other levels and capacities within the firm, both in legal positions and as support staff. Public Interest Litigation Continue to advocate and protect Indigenous rights by taking on cases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients which are of public importance and/or are high profile Indigenous Committee, Social Justice Practice, Operators across the firm nationally June 2013 Continue to take on at least one new case per year or at least 50 hours of pro bono work is allocated to Indigenous cases each year Information Continued collection of baseline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment data Seasonal Clerkships Continue, expand and improve the Indigenous Seasonal Clerkship program Human Resources June 2013 Continue to undertake staff survey that allows staff members to identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with appropriate consideration shown for employees privacy New employees are asked to identify if they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in their new employee information form. This data is then tracked by our National HR Administrator. Human Resources June 2013 Two seasonal clerkship places in annual intake allocated to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants in Victoria Exit interview held with each Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Seasonal Clerk at the completion of their Clerkship to obtain feedback and suggestions for improvement of the program Trainee Lawyers Develop an Indigenous Trainee Lawyer Program Trainee Legal Assistants Develop an Indigenous Trainee Legal Assistant Program June 2013 Continue to allocate one place per year for an Indigenous Trainee Lawyer, subject to candidate meeting required selection criteria. June 2013 Continue to allocate one place per year for an Indigenous Legal Assistant, subject to candidate meeting required selection criteria. The 2012 Trainee Legal Assistant Program was advertised through the Tarwirri newsletter. Retention Develop an Indigenous staff retention plan with HR, including consultation with a member of the Indigenous Subcommittee where appropriate June 2013 Continue to publicise retention plan. To date all Indigenous employees that have been offered permanent employment through the Trainee Lawyer program are still working at the firm.

6 Secondment Explore opportunities for secondment between MB and an Indigenous organisation Interview Protocol All interviews for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants for Clerkships, Traineeships and Legal Assistant Programs will be subject to particular provisions Awareness Maurice Blackburn s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment opportunities internally and externally Mentoring Develop mentoring opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students Service Providers Develop a best practice guide for considering the engagement of Indigenous enterprise for firm-related services Human Resources, Indigenous Subcommittee Indigenous Committee, Marketing, Human Resources Indigenous Committee, Women s Law Section, Human Resources Indigenous Subcommittee, Practice Section Principals, Marketing June 2013 Continue to meet with Tarwirri or another organisation to discuss and consider opportunities for secondment Continue to include target Indigenous organisations in CLE training activities run by the firm or firm staff individually, where appropriate June 2013 A nominee from the Indigenous Subcommittee is present in all interviews with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants All interviewers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants continue to receive cultural awareness training June 2013 Continue to feature all Indigenous employment programs in internal firm publications Continue to promote all Indigenous employment programs in the Indigenous Times and Koori Mail, as well as other relevant media, advertising and speaking events pertaining to recruitment Continue to circulate marketing material to support promotion of Indigenous employment programs June 2013 Continue developing a mentoring program through the Women s Law Section for an Indigenous school Investigate opportunities to establish a work experience and/or scholarship and/or bursary program for indigenous secondary school students interested in a career in the law June 2013 Continue to identify and add Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts to the firms databases of experts and counsel Use briefing policy Continue to identify and add Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service suppliers to the firm s databases 4. TRACKING PROGRESS AND REPORTING Monitor RAP progress Indigenous Subcommittee Quarterly from September 2012 Review our RAP on our agenda quarterly RAP Annual Report and Refresh Indigenous Subcommittee, WLS, Marketing, Human Resources, CEO June 2013 Annual public reporting on progress RAP Refreshed and approved by Reconciliation Australia and Managing Partner and published on Reconciliation Australia website

7 wefightforfair.com.au SOCIAL JUSTICE WORKCOVER ROAD ACCIDENT INJURIES MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE ASBESTOS DISEASES SUPERANNUATION & INSURANCE CLAIMS PUBLIC LIABILITY FAULTY PRODUCTS COMCARE WILL DISPUTES EMPLOYMENT & INDUSTRIAL LAW CLASS ACTIONS COMMERCIAL LAW QUEENSLAND OFFICES (07) Brisbane Browns Plains Caboolture Cairns Gold Coast Ipswich Mackay Rockhampton Strathpine Sunshine Coast Townsville NSW & ACT OFFICES (02) Sydney Parramatta Canberra VICTORIAN OFFICES (03) Melbourne Dandenong Frankston Geelong Greensborough Mildura Reservoir Ringwood Sunshine Traralgon Wangaratta WESTERN AUSTRALIA OFFICES (08) Perth Quality ISO 9001 Maurice Blackburn is a leading Australian law firm certified to the international ISO 9001:2008 quality standard. Information correct at 1 July This brochure is a general guide to dealing with WorkCover claims and is not a substitute for professional advice in this area. Maurice Blackburn is proud to be carbon neutral (see our website for details). This brochure is printed on Impact. Made with 100% certified post consumer waste fibre, it is produced with a carbon neutral manufacturing process and has been made in a facility that operates under the ISO Environmental Management System.

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