Creating opportunities for Reconciliation
With momentum building for action on reconciliation across Australia, Allens extended its commitment to closing the gap with the launch of its fifth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in October.
The new RAP outlines the firm's continued commitment to reconciliation, pro bono legal support, creation of employment opportunities, investment in commercial relationships, and improved cultural capacity.
It builds on the firm's proud history as a leader in reconciliation, with Allens the first national law firm to introduce a RAP in 2009.
'The new RAP seeks to identify the areas in which our firm, as a leader in the legal profession, can make the most meaningful contribution towards building reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,' said Richard Spurio, Allens' Managing Partner.
'For us, that contribution comes through in a number of areas such as our pro bono work, our internship program and our collaboration with other community groups to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and build inclusivity and diversity.'
The RAP also emphasises Allens' longstanding support for Constitutional recognition through technical legal support and involvement with the recognition movement.
'We believe that our practical legal support for Constitutional recognition is one powerful way that our firm can contribute towards achieving lasting reconciliation and closing the gap,' said Ian McGill, National RAP Partner.
Throughout 2018, Allens has led numerous initiatives to create meaningful change for Indigenous Australians.
Hands-on legal internships for Indigenous young people
Now in its 13th year, Allens' Indigenous Internship program provides hands-on experience for promising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students.
The two-week program gives students real experience of the work of a commercial lawyer and life in a corporate environment, as well as forging mentor relationships with lawyers at the firm.
The Sydney office this year welcomed four interns as part of the program, with two alumni returning to the firm as 2018/19 summer clerks. Since its inception in 2006, 114 interns have completed the program.
Students work with Queensland's legal luminaries in Indigenous moot
Ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students worked with top Queensland lawyers, barristers and judges at the fourth annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students' Moot, held jointly by Allens, Ashurst, North Quarter Lane Chambers and the Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland Inc.
Designed to boost students' understanding of commercial law and advocacy, the moot provides a practical way for the legal profession to ensure Indigenous law students have access to the same opportunities as their non-Indigenous peers. Student teams were mentored by lawyers and barristers, with the competition judged by some of the state's top-ranking judges.
Spelling success for literacy and numeracy
Allens' Melbourne and Brisbane offices celebrated NAIDOC Week with highly competitive inter-floor spelling bees in support of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. The spelling bees saw partners pitted against one another in a series of battle rounds to spell complex words in English and various Indigenous languages. This year's spelling bees raised more than $2700 for the Foundation.
Storytelling to overcome challenges for young people
Allens' Perth RAP committee joined forces with Whitelion during National Reconciliation Week to sponsor its 31 Stories campaign. Each day in May, a young person's story was shared online to raise awareness of the challenges and successes of young people in the Whitelion community. More than $25,000 was raised through the campaign for Whitelion, which has supported thousands of young Australians since its foundation in 1999, working with local communities, businesses and government to find solutions to the issues facing at-risk youth. Forty per cent of Whitelion's clients are Indigenous.