Indigenous Australians, their cultures and experiences, have an important part to play in the legal profession.
The first Indigenous barrister at the Victorian Bar was Professor Mick Dodson AM, 2009 Australian of the Year, who signed the Bar Roll in 1981 and has spent his career campaigning to improve the lives of Indigenous people.
For a list of Indigenous barristers currently practising at the Bar, see the end of this page.
In October 2012 the Victorian Bar Council became the first Bar in Australia to adopt a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for the years 2012-2016.
In March 2017, the Bar reaffirmed its commitment to Reconciliation with the launch of the Bar's second RAP for 2017-2020.
The Bar has been actively monitoring its activities against the criteria outlined within its RAP. Within that time, the Bar was pleased to meet its targets in respect of the RAP, and to have built on the programs and projects supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice.
The Bar’s current RAP for 2021-2023 was endorsed and officially accredited by Reconciliation Australia in March 2022. The RAP embraces the existing initiatives and activities under the earlier RAPs, and provides a framework to improve and expand upon them.
For more information about our commitment and contribution towards Reconciliation, read our RAP 2021-2023.
The RAP is supported by the Indigenous Justice Committee (IJC). The IJC aims to achieve and ensure equality of opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as barristers at the Victorian Bar.
Indigenous Justice Committee members are listed here.
The LIV and the Victorian Bar have a joint policy to promote genuine consideration to briefing of Indigenous barristers.
The Indigenous Equal Opportunity Briefing Policy has been developed in cooperation with Indigenous members of the Victorian Bar. The briefing of Indigenous barristers will assist present and future Indigenous Australians to participate in the legal profession.
The Victorian Bar seeks to assist Indigenous lawyers who wish to come to the Bar by waiving the Bar Readers’ Course fee for Indigenous Readers.
General information about becoming a barrister and the Bar Readers’ Course is available here. To enquire about coming to the Bar, contact Michelle James, Education Manager, or Anne Sheehan and Timothy Goodwin, Co-Chairs of the IJC.
The Victorian Bar conducts a clerkship program for Indigenous law students on an annual basis each February/March (depending on student availability). The six students selected for this program obtain a total of three weeks’ paid work experience at the Bar, the Supreme Court of Victoria the Federal Court of Australia and the County Court of Victoria.
To apply, complete the Indigenous Law Students’ Clerkship Application Form.
The Victorian Bar runs a legal mentoring program that is open to Indigenous law students or graduates. Each participant is connected with a barrister and a Judge (Supreme Court, Federal Court or County Court) to facilitate long term career assistance.
To join this program, complete the
A five-day work experience program is available for Indigenous secondary school students through the Victorian Bar. The program is open to any Indigenous secondary school student in Year 9 onwards who is considering a career in the Law.
Participating students will be introduced to a barrister working in the student's area of interest. Before the program commences, the barrister will liaise with the teacher responsible for work experience at the school to ensure that the week’s activities can be planned to suit both the school’s requirements and the student's areas of interest.
To apply, complete the Indigenous Secondary School Students Work Experience Program Application Form.
The Bar supports the initiatives of the Tarwirri, the indigenous law students and lawyers association of Victoria.
The Bar also supports financial assistance for Indigenous barristers. These initiatives include: