Acknowledgement of Country & note on language
Arnold Bloch Leibler acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of country all over Australia. We acknowledge and respect the fact that many Traditional Custodians maintain their sovereignty, which has never been ceded.
Our firm’s offices are based in Melbourne on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and in Sydney on the lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.
Throughout this site, we use the terms ‘Aboriginal’, ‘Torres Strait Islander’, ‘Indigenous’ and ‘First Nations Peoples’ interchangeably to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have inhabited and who have remained connected to this land for more than 60,000 years. In using this language, we seek to acknowledge the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and identities across Australia.
Indigenous Solidarity Statement of Commitment
For nearly 30 years, Arnold Bloch Leibler has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and individuals, often pro bono, on matters and issues that go to the heart of their resolve to achieve Indigenous self-determination.
We understand that for many Indigenous Australians, the language of reconciliation no longer best captures the imperative of self-determination.
Arnold Bloch Leibler immediately and publicly accepted the invitation contained in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. And in 2019, our Reconciliation Action Plan Committee was renamed the Arnold Bloch Leibler Indigenous Solidarity Network (AISN).
The language of solidarity captures the responsibilities and obligations of the firm’s non-Indigenous partners and staff, and better reflects our long-held view that the reality of our shared aspirations will only be achieved by continuing to work alongside each other.
The Arnold Bloch Leibler Indigenous Solidarity Statement of Commitment describes this approach, and how we will adopt it in realising specific objectives and priorities for the year, as Australia and the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Statement is intended as a living document that we will continually adapt in line with the priorities of Indigenous clients and friends, many of whom have provided their own messages of solidarity within the Statement.
To ensure we review, monitor and measure this important aspect of the firm’s work, we will report annually on progress against our stated objectives and priorities, utilising a specially designed impact model.
History and commitment to Indigenous justice
Arnold Bloch Leibler’s standing as a leading Australian law firm has been built and nurtured for 70 years. Many of the values, characteristics and defining qualities from the early years continue to shape Arnold Bloch Leibler today.
A commitment to serving the community and causes that matter to our clients and to us has always been deeply ingrained in Arnold Bloch Leibler’s culture, as evidenced by our longstanding and well recognised public interest law pro-bono practice.
For nearly 30 years, we have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, often pro-bono, ensuring that our dedication to Indigenous causes will always be a source of pride for our firm.
From representing the Yorta Yorta peoples in their seminal native title claim through the 1990s to early 2000s, to securing the rightful return of the copyright in the lifetime works of iconic Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira to his family in 2017 and supporting communities in navigating the challenges of COVID-19, Arnold Bloch Leibler’s work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples spans the spectrum of legal, political, economic and cultural challenges.
We recognise that our deep and ongoing commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, organisations, particularly in our pro-bono efforts, are a core part of the firm’s culture and identity.
That said, while many of the firm’s partners and staff have experience working within Indigenous cultural environments, we recognise the limits of our knowledge and capability.
We acknowledge the complexity and challenges involved in negotiating a relationship of solidarity with Indigenous peoples and communities. We cannot and do not speak for Indigenous Australians but, rather, stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ in support of their ongoing efforts for justice and self-determination.
We see this as a reciprocal relationship where, at the same time as continuing to offer our support and services, we have the privilege to learn from members of diverse and rich cultures, including the most ancient on the planet.
Priorities for 2024
Our priorities for 2024 are:
- To remain focused on and committed to respectfully listening and responding to First Nations perspectives on the referendum result, and to use all our energies and resources as a law firm committed to Indigenous empowerment to help bring about the necessary statutory, policy and common law changes that First Nations people would like to see as their preferred alternatives to the Voice.
- To evaluate the impact of the First Nations Procurement List and Procurement Questionnaire on procurement by employees at Arnold Bloch Leibler and consider other ways to encourage an increase in the percentage of spending by the firm on First Nations businesses, including continuing to explore opportunities for large-scale procurement.
- To create a working group that, with the key guidance of, and working together with, the Human Resources team, reviews and develops recommendations to the Partners that are aimed at facilitating First Nations recruitment and retention, which may for example focus on:
- which types of events are most successful at attracting First Nations law students and others (together with the Human Resources team); and
- the potential for a First Nations paralegal cadetship.
- To explore options for, and the feasibility of, a sponsorship arrangement between Arnold Bloch Leibler and a First Nations law student association.
- To continue developing options to distribute the AISN newsletter externally to clients, advisers and friends of the firm to circulate with their teams.
- To install permanent plaques with First Nations place names for the Melbourne and Sydney office reception areas.
- To continue to develop and expand cultural awareness training, including by implementing First Nations cultural awareness training for all Partners of Arnold Bloch Leibler.
- To explore ways to increase engagement in AISN events and initiatives, particularly by law graduates, first year lawyers and Sydney colleagues.
"This Statement is informed by our professional and personal relationships with Indigenous people and organisations, which have endured for decades."Read Mark's full message
Tracking and reporting our progress
How will we meet our goals and targets?
To ensure we meet ongoing goals and targets, review them and keep them aligned with Arnold Bloch Leibler’s continuing commitment to Indigenous causes, the AISN will monitor and report as follows:
- Utilising the impact model described below, the AISN will produce an annual progress report, which will take the form of an impact measurement report, adopting the ‘theory of change’ model.
- The AISN will continue to make membership of the AISN available to all members of the firm.
- The AISN will provide updates to the monthly partners’ meeting on the implementation of this Statement of Commitment.
What will guide our decision making and reporting?
In line with our new direction, the AISN has developed an impact model to guide decision making and reporting. The model is designed to assist the firm and AISN to:
- Identify the rationale/objective of an activity so we can analyse the cause and effect relationship between activities and their longer-term impact.
- Guide planning, design and execution of activities.
- Identify where resources are best utilised.
- Encourage staff members to appreciate AISN projects within the wider organisational context.
What is our desired impact?
The members of the AISN are passionate advocates for Indigenous empowerment and self-determination generally and for Constitutional Recognition specifically. We aim to assist partners and staff to build on their own passion for these and other related causes.
We aim to help in building and maintaining relationships and networks with Indigenous peoples, communities and causes, clients and friends of the firm. To achieve our aims and desired impacts, we will continue to:
- Encourage, promote and celebrate the involvement of partners and staff in AISN activities, through continuing education and internal firm activities.
- Ask for feedback from within and outside of the firm, to improve on our aims and maximise our impact for the benefit of Indigenous Australians.
- Commit to supporting Indigenous businesses through increased procurement.
- Pursue our role as advocates for positive and productive law reform.
- Work towards improved accessibility to Arnold Bloch Leibler, and to the legal profession generally, for Indigenous Australians in their struggles for justice and in meeting their legal needs.
How will we endeavour to measure this impact?
The success of our actions in realising our aims and desired impacts will be considered through various forms of measurement, including the nature and extent of:
- Feedback from and sentiments expressed by partners and staff through internal surveys relating to activities run by the AISN.
- Feedback from and sentiments expressed by people outside of the firm relating to activities run by the AISN.
- Partner and staff involvement in internal AISN and related activities.
- Partner and staff involvement in external AISN and related activities.
- Employment of Indigenous people in legal and non-legal positions within the firm.
- Indigenous client work carried out as part of the firm’s public interest law contributions.
- Feedback from and sentiments expressed by Indigenous clients and friends of the firm in relation to those contributions.
- Partner and staff involvement in external panels associated with Indigenous justice, Constitutional Recognition and self-determination.
- Indigenous law reform, particularly Constitutional reform, and Indigenous legal justice outcomes.
These considerations and forms of measurement will be developed by the AISN to ensure that the activities undertaken are aligned to our desired impact, and to ensure that the forms of measurement are effective.
Using the model below, the AISN commits to producing an Annual Progress Report covering the main objectives and proposed actions contained in this Statement of Commitment, the outcomes achieved and what the AISN considers to be the overall impact of these actions.
"I am very proud of the fact this powerful Statement of Commitment reflects a whole of firm approach to Indigenous causes."READ HENRY'S FULL MESSAGE
Clients and causes
Click on the boxes below to find out more about the work undertaken by Arnold Bloch Leibler in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and colleagues – some of whom we have assisted for decades, and others with whom the relationship is relatively new.
Nairm Marr Djambana
Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation
Uluru Statement from the Heart
Namatjira Legacy Trust
First Australians Capital
Wantok Musik Foundation
Anindilyakwa Land Council
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation
Birrarangga Film Festival
Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation
First Nations Foundation
Black Duck Foods
Opening The Doors Foundation
"Our new emphasis on the concept of Indigenous solidarity powerfully and accurately reflects what we have always sought, and will always seek, to achieve in our efforts."view Peter's full message