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Indigenous Academic Support News

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Indigenous Academic Support Unit


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Aboriginal Australians -- Education (Higher) -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Aboriginal Australians -- Education -- Research -- Periodicals

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Charles Darwin University

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issue 24

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3 ISSUE 24 | March 2010 and Nightcliff High Schools. In the late 1980s, after I completed schooling, I moved south to Canberra on a 12 month National Indigenous Cadetship with the then Liberal Backbencher, Phillip Ruddock. It was then that my feelings for Social Justice brought me to think about studies in Law. But my circumstances changed and I became a young mother with three children. My circumstances changed again and I became a single mother of three young children and I moved back to Darwin. On my return to Darwin, I was employed in the Department of Social Security and again, my ideas of Social Justice swung me back to wanting to study Law. I enrolled at the then Northern Territory University, (now Charles Darwin University) with my youngest child in child care, the middle child starting school and my oldest already at school. Then came the diffi cult balancing act of studying hard while supporting my young family, keeping them on the straight and narrow, and keeping our heads above water fi nancially. During this time, among other jobs, I worked part time at the Director of Public Prosecutions Offi ce as an Indigenous Law Cadet. After a couple of years it became too much and so I took a year off and worked hard, and saved enough money during that year to continue my studies. I re-enrolled at Uni and fi nally fi nished my Law degree in 2005. Throughout all of this I kept my family strong, healthy, at school, and independent. Of course, I could not have done this without the support of my family; my mother and siblings were there when I needed them and they kept encouraging me to hang in there. After graduating I commenced work with the Northern Territory Government (NTG) and had a variety of roles at various departments. These included the Deptment of Justice, Community Development and the Department of Education. After a much needed break from study, in 2008 whilst working full time, I commenced studies in the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP) part time externally through the Australian National University (ANU). At the same time I applied for and was successful to be awarded the Indigenous Students Practical Legal Training Scholarship from the College of Law at ANU. During my studies I applied for and was successful in a job at the Commonwealth Ombudsmans Indigenous Unit. Whilst at the Ombudsmans, I undertook a lot of outreach work and travelled extensively to remote Indigenous communities promoting the role of the Ombudsman and recording complaints. A part of the requirement of the GDLP was to undertake legal work placements. I undertook my work placements with North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and North Australian Family Violence Legal Service (NAAFVLS). Whilst working at NAAFVLS I had my fi rst court appearance in one of the bush courts. That was a very nerve wracking experience, but a good experience at the same time, as I learned to be quick on my feet and be prepared when I was in court, so that I was doing my best for my client. The study of Law has become a family affair. My sister, Christine Brown, has recently completed her Bachelor of Law at Flinders University in Adelaide and is currently studying for a Master of Laws (International Law and International Relations) and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice this year, with the intention of being admitted as a Legal Practitioner next year. Christine and I commenced our studies together at NTU/CDU but, due to the specialist health needs of her daughter Cheri, she and her family moved to Adelaide to access specialist treatment. Christines other child Peter (PJ) is in his fi nal year of Law at Adelaide University. Peter already has a Bachelor of Commerce degree. My son, Jordan, has also started showing an interest in studying Law after picking up Legal Studies at High School. I believe Christines and my interest in Law has had an extremely positive infl uence on our families. The study of Law is very interesting, as it affects our lives either directly or indirectly on a daily basis. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in this area and has thought about studying Law to pursue it with a passion!! If you are self motivated and willing to make a commitment to putting hours into studying, the end result is not only an amazing personal achievement, but the opportunity for a rewarding career. Where to from here? Thats the big question. For now I will stay where I am. Im currently working as a Project Offi cer with NTG. I like it as I get to utilise my legal skills on a regular basis, in particular, statutory interpretation. I do have a strong desire to be involved with the courts and my goal for the future is to be a practising Lawyer. If that does not happen my other interests are in Legal Policy, as I believe change for Indigenous people will occur in the development of policies that are preventative and holistic in nature as a means to maximising outcomes for Indigenous people. Another option would be Community Legal Education, as I really enjoyed being involved in legal education work as part of my work placement