Gadjula descendant Colleen Rosas has been working in the Northern Territory’s legal system for decades, but the great grandmother never thought she would be able to become a lawyer herself.
- Of the 610 lawyers working in NT courts last year, only 10 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- 22 Indigenous students are starting an intensive legal course run by Charles Darwin University
- The university hopes the course will help increase Indigenous enrolment in law degrees
“I’ve always wanted to do it, but I felt it was out of reach,” Ms Rosas said.
Ms Rosas is one of 22 Indigenous students about to start a four-week intensive course run by Charles Darwin University, offering an insight into the NT’s legal system and how to succeed while studying law.
After helping set up the NT Aboriginal Interpreter Service and sitting on the board of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency [NAAJA], Ms Rosas said she was hoping a law degree would help her offer even more support to Indigenous Territorians.
“I see the issues going on, particularly with our youth, with our courts, with the high incarceration and with the outcomes of the Royal Commission.
“And I think having that law degree, having that intimate knowledge of the law, will make me a lot stronger in myself to be able to work for my people.”
Of the 610 lawyers working in Northern Territory courts last year, only 10 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, according to the most recent Law Society NT annual report.
“When you consider that we make up 95 per cent of incarcerations, 100 per cent of our kids in Don Dale, that’s just not good enough,” NAAJA community legal educator James Parfitt said.
“That’s what I’m hoping each participant finds — their own unique pathway to be in this great field.”
The new students have come to Darwin from places across the country, including Broome in Western Australia, Weipa in Queensland and Kalkarindji in the NT.
Incoming student and Arrernte/Luritja descendant Hugh Woodbury, who travelled from his home in Alice Springs, said he was inspired to pursue law after watching people in his community struggle in the legal system.
“It was frustrating,” Mr Woodbury said.
He said he hopes the university program would lead to more lawyers in the NT.
“Especially at the moment, Indigenous people are struggling in areas that we shouldn’t be,” Mr Woodbury said.
“Sometimes, Indigenous people need Indigenous support, and people that have been through a similar life.”
Credit: Source link