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New Aboriginal legal career pathway to help close the gap

10 Nov 2022

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples interested in pursuing a legal career are encouraged to apply for a ground-breaking new program developed through a partnership with Legal Aid NSW and Macquarie University.

The Aboriginal Legal Career Pathways program will increase the skills and qualifications of the Aboriginal workforce in legal services, with a target to employ 200 people over the duration of the program.

Applicants can apply for the project by sending this application form to Amanda.Morgan@mq.edu.au. The program will run for four years and will have several intakes, with applications for the first intake closing on November 13, 2022, with the second round of intakes being advertised in 2023.

Successful applicants will receive a nationally accredited qualification in legal services from a culturally safe and trauma-informed registered training organisation and will have the opportunity for higher education through Macquarie University.

Dean of Macquarie Law School, Professor Lise Barry explained that the Law School will design a pathway into a law degree for participants, with the aim of improving Indigenous representation in the legal profession.

"Macquarie Law School is so excited to be part of this ground-breaking program. We think this is a game-changer for Indigenous empowerment in law."

Participants will be employed at Legal Aid NSW as a Legal Support Officer, Client Support Officer or LawAccess Information Officer and will be able to work full or part time in Legal Aid NSW offices in their community, or for other Legal Aid NSW offices remotely from their own hometown.

Project Manager and Yorta Yorta woman, Amanda Morgan, said the program is ground-breaking because it is the first of its scale in NSW.

“Any Aboriginal person in New South Wales who has ever dreamed of a career in the legal sector will have secure employment in their own community, complete a Diploma and pursue pathways into university level qualifications in law, without having to worry about the typical structural and systematic barriers,” she said.

“It is our hope that when our mob see family and community members enter and complete this program, they will realise that being a lawyer is within the realm of possibility for them. Your dream is never too big. We are about to meet cohorts of future Aboriginal lawyers.”

Legal Aid NSW CEO Monique Hitter said the program is part of Legal Aid NSW’s mission to boost Aboriginal employment as part of its Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy, as well as diversity within the organisation more broadly.

“We are committed to a workplace that reflects the diversity of our clients more broadly, including Aboriginal, culturally and linguistically diverse and gender diverse people as well as those with a disability,” she said.

Successful candidates will have their study costs paid for, including travel and accommodation, resources, equipment, and a uniform when they attend study blocks on campus in Sydney.

Kimberley Wilson, Director, Aboriginal Services, Legal Aid NSW and a proud Yuin and Bidjigal woman, said protections are in place to ensure the program is culturally safe.

“At Legal Aid NSW we are committed to being a culturally safe and genuinely inclusive organisation for all people and communities that work with and interact with us, where people feel valued, welcomed, respected and heard,” she said.

“We strive to be a place where Aboriginal people want to work and where Aboriginal voices and cultures are valued, and this means we aim to actively engage in culturally safe practices and deliver culturally safe services to Aboriginal people and communities.”

Applications close on Sunday 13 November 2022. Interviews will be conducted in late November 2022 and successful applicants will be notified by December 2022. Successful participants will commence their qualification in early 2023 and will be notified of their employment start date.

Media contact:
Georgia Clark, Legal Aid NSW - 0438 606 092 or media@legalaid.nsw.gov.au
Amanda Morgan, Macquarie University - 61 434 115 444 or amanda.morgan@mq.edu.au