09 Mar 2010

Clayton Utz commits to helping close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Sydney, 9 March 2010: Clayton Utz today joins the members of Australia's community who are committed to creating positive and lasting change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with the formal launch of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in Sydney this evening.

Clayton Utz' RAP has been developed in consultation with Reconciliation Australia, the peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Its development involved people in each of Clayton Utz' offices, from all backgrounds and areas of experience, with input from the firm's Indigenous friends, clients and contacts.

Clayton Utz Chief Executive Partner David Fagan, who tonight will address an audience of Clayton Utz colleagues and friends, said creating a RAP was an important next step in the firm's commitment to helping address the inequality that existed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – a commitment that extends beyond the firm's strong practice of providing pro bono legal services.

"For many years now Clayton Utz has worked closely with Indigenous clients and organisations around Australia through our Pro Bono and Community Connect programs. These programs will continue to be an important way we can help to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but we can also strengthen our commitment by creating meaningful opportunities in employment, education and training, and by supporting Indigenous-owned companies through our procurement processes," said Mr Fagan.

Mr Fagan said the programs Clayton Utz had committed to through its RAP were founded on three cornerstone Reconciliation Australia principles: Opportunities, Respect, and Relationships.

"Mutual respect is at the core of our RAP. We want our own people to come to an understanding of the values and strengths of Indigenous culture and to recognise the challenges and disadvantages which we must overcome as community together. It was important to us that our RAP provided relevant and practical ways to create positive and lasting change, and we will work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through this RAP, as equal and respected partners".

"We recognise that there is much work to be done to address the unacceptable gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I am proud that Clayton Utz is part of the growing community of businesses, government and non-profit organisations which have formalised their commitment to closing this gap through a Reconciliation Action Plan."

Reconciliation Australia created RAPs to help answer the question that is so often heard: What can I do? Fifteen percent of Australians are now employed by organisations that have RAPs which is proof that we can all play a role in reconciliation.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Clayton Utz to the RAP community,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan.

“Building on Clayton Utz’ extensive working relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations, this RAP distils their ongoing commitment to work in ways that mutually benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their businesses. This RAP represents opportunities for Clayton Utz staff to grow their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. It also creates pathways for skills transfer between Indigenous Australians, organisations and the firm.”

The Clayton Utz RAP will be registered with Reconciliation Australia.

Read more about Clayton Utz' support for Reconciliation here.

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