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Judge Bob Bellear 'Legal Career Pathways' program

"The Bob Bellear Program is a great legacy to a great man, and will lead to a new generation of Aboriginal lawyers".

Kirsten Cheetham, Legal Aid NSW Graduate

The Judge Bob Bellear 'Legal Career Pathways' Program ('the program') was established in 2007 and is administered by the Aboriginal Services Unit within Legal Aid NSW. Read more about Judge Bob Bellear below. The program offers:

  • Scholarships for Aboriginal secondary school students to help continue their studies beyond year 10 and complete the Higher School Certificate with a view to embarking on tertiary education.
  • Cadetships program for Aboriginal law students for full-time undergraduate law students to provide support in obtaining a law degree through financial assistance and a paid work placement of 12 weeks each year.
  • Professional Legal Placements program which enables law graduates to complete their practical legal training to gain admission into legal practice; and provides subsequent temporary employment to gain further work experience.
  • Career Development program for Aboriginal law graduates. This program involves a two year placement in two legal practice areas for law graduates who have completed Practical Legal Training and whom are eligible for admission into legal practice.
  • Identified positions for recruitment of an Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander, including Legal Officers, Legal Support Officers and other administrative positions.
  • Support for the program is provided by the Aboriginal Services Unit including:
    • An Aboriginal Staff Network
    • Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training for all staff.

Further enquiries

If you require additional information or assistance regarding the program, please send an email to Ms Janelle Clarke, Senior Project Officer, Aboriginal Services Unit, Legal Aid NSW: janelle.clarke@legalaid.nsw.gov.au. Alternatively you can contact Janelle on (02) 9219 5146.

What is the Aboriginal Services Unit

Image of Aboriginal artworkAboriginal people are a priority client group for Legal Aid NSW. As such, we are continually developing and implementing new initiatives to fulfill our role as one of the primary advocates for the legal rights of Aboriginal Australians. Through collective action as an organisation, Legal Aid NSW seeks to promote respect and understanding of Aboriginal people's legal rights among the broader community. 

Legal Aid NSW has an Aboriginal Services Unit which consists of a Director, Senior Project Officer and Project Officer. The unit co-ordinates, develops and implements initiatives relating specifically for Aboriginal clients, communities and staff.

Judge Bob Bellear's story

Photo of Judge Bob BellearJudge Bob Bellear (pictured left) was a Noonucal/NI-Vanuatu man from Mullumbimby, situated on the north coast of New South Wales. Surrounded by poverty, he was forced to leave school at a young age to support his large family. After witnessing one too many instances of racism towards Aboriginal Australians, Bob went back and completed his Higher School Certificate before continuing on to university where he studied law.

Bob eventually became a barrister and Public Defender before being appointed a Judge of the District Court of New South Wales, the first Indigenous person to be appointed to any court in Australia.

Among Bob's many and varied achievements, including assisting to establish the first Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Medical Service and Aboriginal housing Company in Redfern, he was also a mentor to many young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, encouraging and supporting them in the pursuit of a career in law.

Bob was a role model to many and an inspiration to all. His tireless commitment to ensuring the recognition, enforcement and preservation of the fundamental rights of Aboriginal Australians involved a degree of dedication only few can boast. His legacy is in part carried on through the Judge Bob Bellear 'Legal Career Pathways' Program, an initiative of Legal Aid NSW named in the late Aboriginal Judge's Honour.