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Reconciliation and First Nations Justice at Holding Redlich

Holding Redlich recognises that we have a responsibility to take genuine action to engage in and promote reconciliation, and to seek justice for First Nations peoples.

Acknowledgement of Country

Holding Redlich respectfully acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia as the Traditional Owners of the Country on which each of our offices and practices are situated. Specifically, the Wurundjeri / Woiwurrung People of the Kulin Nation in Melbourne, Epping, Melton and Springvale; the Gunai / Kurnai People in Morwell; the Waywarru People in Wangaratta; the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation in Sydney; the Ngunnawal People in Canberra; the Turrbal People in Brisbane; and the Gimuy Wulubara Yidinji People in Cairns. We acknowledge Country and peoples from all locations engaging with our practice. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. We celebrate the diversity, resilience and strength of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Our legal practice respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their continuing connections to ancestors, Country, kinship, Law and culture. We acknowledge and are nourished by our connectedness with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples living in Australia who have never ceded their sovereignty. We work in partnership towards genuine reconciliation, justice, equity and our healing as individuals, and also as a nation.

Our vision

Our vision for reconciliation is the creation of a society in which First Nations peoples feel proud to be themselves without fear of prejudice and discrimination. Our vision includes a shift in attitudes in which Indigenous Knowings are valued equally with Western Knowledge, and that there is room for us all to benefit from the existence of these two worlds. This vision seeks to create a space in which First Nations voices are listened to and amplified and in which the unique skills and abilities that First Nations peoples and organisations have are respected and valued. We ultimately see truth, justice and self-determination for First Nations peoples at the forefront of our vision for reconciliation.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan

In April 2019 we launched the firm’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Known as a ‘Reflect’ RAP, it involved scoping and deciding on a vision for reconciliation and preparing our firm for reconciliation initiatives and RAPs in the future. The RAP provides a framework for us to support the national reconciliation movement by:

  • building respect and understanding of Aboriginal culture and communities 
  • building relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations
  • developing opportunities to improve socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

The enactment of our RAP was being overseen by a Reconciliation Implementation Group. We also have a Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group with representatives from all Holding Redlich offices to support the implementation of the RAP. Our RAP Working Group is currently in process of seeking endorsement of our second RAP from Reconciliation Australia.

Uluru Statement from the Heart endorsement

In March 2019 Holding Redlich issued a joint public response with 17 other law firms in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a national Indigenous consensus position on Indigenous constitutional reform, which includes a call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Commonwealth Constitution. You can view the Uluru Statement from the Heart here.

The consensus reached through the Statement from the Heart was a major milestone in the journey towards constitutional reform. The establishment of a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body as a voice to Parliament would be a meaningful step towards reconciliation. It would empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and ensure that they have a greater say on the laws, policies and programs that shape their lives. Please see this article on the joint law firm response – Law firms back Uluru Statement in the AFR on 22 March 2019.

Our legal work

Holding Redlich has a long and demonstrable history of commitment to promoting human rights and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through our legal work.

We have represented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in some of the most important legal test cases in Australia, including:

  • North Kimberly land rights – we negotiated a diamond exploration deal between CRA (now Rio Tinto) and the Umbulgurri community in north Kimberly in 1985
  • Mabo proceedings – during the 1980s and early 1990s, our firm was the Melbourne agent for the Queensland firm acting in the Mabo litigation
  • Stolen Generations – in the mid to late 1990s, we represented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the Northern Territory in proceedings against the Commonwealth. This case, while unsuccessful, paved the way for future recognition of the Stolen Generations
  • Bark etchings case – we represented three Aboriginal elders in seeking to keep in Australia two bark etchings and a ceremonial piece on loan from the United Kingdom
  • Northern Territory Intervention case – we represented an Aboriginal Corporation in the Northern Territory and individual plaintiffs in a test case challenging the validity of the Commonwealth’s legislative intervention into Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory
  • Breach of the Racial Discrimination Act – we acted for the plaintiffs in the successful action against Melbourne’s Herald-Sun Columnist, Andrew Bolt in 2012.

We have relationships with a number of community legal centres that provide legal assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
  • Arts Law Centre of Australia - through this relationship we regularly provide legal advice and representation to Indigenous artists and Indigenous art centres
  • Justice Connect - through this relationship we frequently provide legal advice and representation to Local Aboriginal Land Councils in New South Wales.

We provide legal assistance to a number of Indigenous organisations and charities, including our ongoing relationship with Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre.

Our partnerships

As part of our commitment to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous businesses, we have formed an alliance with Indigenous law firm, Marrawah Law, a Supply Nation certified business with offices across Australia.

We provide regular financial support to Djirra, an organisation which shares and celebrates culture, and where practical support is available to all Aboriginal women and particularly to Aboriginal women who are currently experiencing family violence or have in the past.

For a number of years we have sponsored the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, which is an arts and cultural event that showcases art by First Nations artists.

Culturally Safe Workplace

We strive to be a culturally safe and inclusive law firm. In doing so, we are guided by Nareeta Davis, Pro Bono Lawyer and First Nations Advisor.

We have developed Cultural Protocols and Practice guidelines to assist our engagement with First Nations peoples. All new staff members to the firm must attend ”Purga Dhagun – Meeting Ground”: Induction to work alongside First Nations peoples at Holding Redlich.” We provide regular cultural learning opportunities through training and events. We also have specific Cultural Leave policies designed with and for First Nations staff members.

We recognise the importance of visibility when working with First Nations peoples and cultural to create a safe and welcoming environment. In this regard, we have named our meeting rooms in Brisbane and Cairns in accordance with Traditional Owner languages – Turrbal (Brisbane) and Yidinji (Cairns).

As part of our employment pathways, we currently offer scholarships to First Nations law students through James Cook University and CQ University.