Kishaya Delaney

Kishaya Delaney is a proud Wiradjuri woman, Pro Bono Solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills, and member of the Uluru Statement Youth Dialogue. Kishaya previously worked as Project Officer for the Towards Truth project, leading a team of researchers to develop a legislation and policy mapping database to support truth-telling under the third reform of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Kishaya regularly delivers presentations and facilitates information sessions about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and Voice to Parliament. 


Why the Voice Matters

Lawyers undertake pro bono work for one key reason – the public good. We understand that everyone deserves the right to access justice. We recognise that First Nations people are disproportionately impacted from all sides of the legal system, and we must work hard to ensure that those with the least opportunities are supported. As lawyers, we can understand the need to hear directly from our First Nations clients about the issues they encounter to inform how we can best help them navigate the legal system. 

This is why the Voice to Parliament is so important. How can we hope to improve the legal system if we are not hearing directly from those that it impacts the most? With substantive constitutional reform through a Voice to Parliament, we can make a crucial step towards addressing the systemic injustices that First Nations people have endured for far too long. This proposal aims to give Indigenous people a stronger say in the decisions that affect their lives and communities, and for lawyers who work pro bono for First Nations clients, this is of particular significance. 

The First Nations Voice to Parliament is important for lawyers because it has the potential to rebuild trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the legal system. The legal system has been historically fraught with tension and mistrust, and Indigenous people often felt excluded and disempowered. This is an opportunity to reshape that relationship by ensuring First Nations people are empowered to influence government and parliamentary decision making, and exercise true self-determination. It would mean that our voices and experiences would be taken into account and that we would finally have a seat at the table. 

As a proud Wiradjuri woman, I urge my colleagues to support this proposal and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive legal system for all Australians. The Voice to Parliament is not just a matter of legal reform, it is a matter of survival and a chance for our voices to finally be heard and valued in the country that we have called home for thousands of years. 

This piece represents the author’s personal views and does not necessarily represent the views of the organisations with which they are associated.