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Uniting indigenous students, alumni and the profession

14 commencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have participated in 2017’s Indigenous Pre Law and Justice Program to aid their transition to university.

The Program has been developed to reflect the learning experience of a QUT student and assist commencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with their transition to QUT and the Law and Justice degrees.

It has been shown to increase student confidence and facilitate other connections that are vital to ensure the retention of students.

The week-long program was designed to acknowledge and address the inherent systematic barriers which impact on the academic success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in higher education, while celebrating the unique aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Students from across Queensland as far as Mt Isa, Longreach and Mackay travelled to Brisbane to attend the program, and will commence their studies at QUT this semester.

Throughout the program, the students engaged in a variety of academic skills sessions to further develop their research, writing and presentation skills.

They also had the opportunity to visit some of Brisbane’s legal sites, including the Brisbane Magistrates Court, where they were welcomed by Chief Magistrate Rinaudo.

While at the Magistrates Court the students visited both sittings of the Magistrates Court and the Murri Court.

The students were given the opportunity to hear from Magistrate Previtera and Elders participating on the Murri Court.

The students also visited the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS), where students learnt more about their day-to-day business operations.

“My favourite part of the Program would be the courts visits, as well as visiting ATSILS and the Brisbane law firms. It is very interesting to see and speak with the people in those areas and to gain an understanding of what a future in the profession would be like,” said Zach Kohler, Bachelor of Justice student.

A popular addition to 2017’s program was a visit to Corrs Chambers Westgarth, with current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Law and Justice students and alumni.

Students had the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session on the pathways to, and working in, a legal firm as well as a tour of their offices.

The Program coordinator, Bianca Hill, is proud of how the program has continued to provide important information to prepare the commencing students for their transition into tertiary study.

“It’s always exciting to coordinate this program and to meet the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law and Justice students. This program is a vital part of the broader strategy to increase the number of Indigenous students studying within the Faculty,” she said.

Once again, the feedback from students involved in the program was encouraging.

“The Program was very valuable to gain information about preparing for what is potentially a very difficult area of study. It ensured the students, both straight from school and mature-aged, were ready to hit the ground running and were fully equipped to make the most of life at university,” said Alita Roberts, Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Justice student.

“Without feeling connected and gaining those networking opportunities, many people disconnect from their coursework and don’t feel supported. This program prevents students feeling alone and supports a successful mind-set that is essential for long term development,” she said.

Feature image: Commencing Indigenous Law and Justice students visit the Murri Court.

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