Message from Paul Gleeson, Managing Director
I would first like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we meet and work and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and to their emerging leaders.
I am extremely pleased to present Russell Kennedy Lawyers’ first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Our Reflect RAP is a milestone in our firm’s continuing journey and commitment to reconciliation. We recognise the discrimination and disadvantages that First Nations Peoples continue to face today and understand the important contribution our firm can make as legal practitioners.
The Reflect RAP is not just about what we can do to assist people and community through pro bono services - it is a shared undertaking to build knowledge, respect and understanding between us all and to share in the vibrant, resilient and ongoing cultures of First Nations Peoples.
The Reflect RAP provides a framework for our firm to grow awareness and better engage with First Nations as well as celebrate their rich cultures. It will enable us to reflect on the contributions we have previously made, and how we can be better informed and better engaged with First Nations communities. Our RAP will ensure that our Reconciliation work is properly embedded within the structural workings of the firm, so that it is carried out in a strategic and consistent manner. I am pleased to announce that Donna Rayner (Principal) and Kyle Gillan (Principal) have been appointed Joint Chairs of our RAP Committee and that Michael Gorton AM (Principal) has been appointed as our RAP Champion.
Russell Kennedy has been actively involved in the reconciliation movement in Victoria for over 20 years. Michael Gorton was a member of the State Reconciliation Council and was a founder and inaugural Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria. Through Michael and our Pro Bono Practice, we have supported the work of Reconciliation Australia and Reconciliation Victoria for over 15 years, including involvement in the creation of Reconciliation Victoria and provision of pro bono office space to Reconciliation Australia. We are proud to continue these longstanding relationships and our work within the reconciliation movement and we are proud to formalise our commitment with Reconciliation Australia. Further, we are proud to support the call for constitutional recognition of First Nations through the establishment an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice and will continue our support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
We look forward to the year ahead.
Statement from Michael Gorton AM, RAP Champion
Russell Kennedy is dedicated to creating and participating in a meaningful process of reconciliation as part of the broader national reconciliation movement. Our key aims in embarking on our first RAP are to celebrate the deep knowledge of First Nations communities, the longest continuing cultures in the world, acknowledge past wrongs and to begin to build a structured future together where we can play our part in righting those wrongs though our own reconciliation initiatives.
We believe that this is not achievable without guidance from and collaboration with First Nations Peoples, especially the Wurundjeri and Gadigal peoples, on whose lands our offices are located. Our RAP is not only about reparations and relationship building through practical and achievable actions, it is a way forward for us as a firm to learn more about Australia’s First Nations histories. It is an opportunity to incorporate our learnings into our business planning and into our workplace culture, thereby strengthening our understanding and sense of solidarity with First Nations Peoples.
We acknowledge the significant health and well-being, justice, education and economic inequalities existent between First Nations Peoples and the wider Australian community. Our RAP will seek to contribute to closing these gaps by implementing programs and initiatives which support First Nations owned businesses, organisations which provide key services to First Nations Peoples and through direct service delivery to First Nations identifying individuals.
Our Reflect RAP will be adopted by our Board, partnership and our management team (led by myself, RAP Champion, and Joint RAP Committee Chairs Donna Rayner and Kyle Gillan) will oversee its implementation across the firm.
View our Reconciliation Action Plan here