Pro Bono + Community

At Edwards + Co, we like to do our bit by helping those in need in the community. The primary way we do this is through our Pro Bono program.

Our Pro Bono Program involves working with organisations and individuals in the community that need legal help with their legal project, but cannot afford to pay full rates or at all. This service is primarily available to not for profit organisations, social enterprises and other projects designed to help the community, including indigenous projects, poverty and hardship alleviation programs and mental wellness initiatives.

Since our establishment, Edwards + Co has supported numerous NFPs and social enterprises by providing corporate and commercial legal services without charge or at heavily reduced rates. Some very recent projects include:

  • An indigenous organisation seeking to create a digital knowledge bank of stories and other data recording their cultural knowledge of Australia (see Case Study below).
  • A large private charitable foundation dedicated to making real and impactful contributions to the lives of Australians, through charitable programs aimed at the needy.
  • An organisation focused on developing the spiritual and mental wellness of Australians through the medium of Vedic meditation.

Case study: Wangkangurru Indigenous Project

Since 2018, Edwards + Co has been assisting a Simpson desert elder with an exciting and valuable indigenous cultural protection project in Northern Queensland. Don Rowlands OAM, is a Wangkangurru, Yarluyandi elder and Ranger-in-charge of Munga Thirri National Park in Birdsville Queensland. Don’s grandfather, Watti Watti, was the last ritual leader of the Fish Mura Ceremony, a Wangkangurru elder and a custodian of these lands.

Don’s commitment to the Watti Watti project has been a life-long quest to rediscover a cultural heritage, and to protect the identity, location, language and legacy of the Wangkangurru Yarlu-Yandi Gnana Significant Sites. The project involves identifying and collecting sacred Watti Watti stories and mythology that relate to geographical sites within Wangkangurru Yarlu-Yandi country and Munga Thirri National Park, then trekking into the desert to pinpoint these sites on digital maps.  A secure and confidential online database is being created to store GPS coordinates and other IP.

Primarily through senior lawyer Kelly Tomasich, Edwards + Co has assisted Don with a number of key legal matters with respect to the Watti Watti Project.  Our work to date has included:

  • Advising on the establishment of the Watti Watti trust and trustee company to act as custodian over the assets;
  • Advising on how to protect a novel form of IP, in the form of native indigenous language, stories, mythology, heritage and the geographic co-ordinates of the Wangkangurru Yarlu-Yandi Gnana Significant Sites;
  • Negotiating and settling written agreements and assignments of the valuable IP from service providers, including software developers and other IT providers.

For Edwards + Co, it has been interesting and rewarding to be involved with the digitisation and protection of a complex and beautiful form of IP we don’t deal with every day – indigenous language, stories, mythology and locations of sacred sites.  The project represents a refreshing example of the use of digital technologies to identify and safeguard ancient information and protect the heritage of local Australian communities.

“As I travel through our beloved Wangkangurru lands I am always conscious of my grandfather, Watti Watti – I want to see my country as he saw it, the smells, the sounds, the stories, the knowledge in the landscape, I see him in the trees and the waterholes, I see him in the sandhills and the gibber plains, he is my guide, he is my inspiration.”  Don Rowlands, OAM

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