Supporting the next generation of Indigenous law students

16 Apr 2014

Introduction: Throughout the legal profession and law schools of Australia, people are exploring how to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the legal profession. I recently visited universities in Canada, the USA and New Zealand (‘CANZUS’) to learn about the programs available to their Indigenous law students. Throughout the visit, it became clear that there are two streams of support required to increase the likelihood of the successful completion of a law degree for Indigenous students. The first stream is academic support, which ideally, should include a preparation program for Indigenous students that focuses on the skills required for success in law school. The second stream is cultural support. Specific cultural support requirements will differ between Indigenous groups; however at a minimum this should include the facilitation and support of the building and maintenance of the Indigenous student community. Creating a home away from home not only supports students culturally and reduces the likelihood of attrition due to being homesick, but also can create a culture of studious attitudes and normalize of the pursuit of academic success. The following is a brief exploration of the lessons learnt throughout my experiences abroad.

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