Meet the students participating in our First Nations Cadetship program
Our inaugural First Nations cadetship program has kicked off to great success. Meet the people participating in the program.
Our First Nations cadetship program is enabling four promising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to gain valuable work experience in community legal centres. The program is in its inaugural year, and aims to support students' professional development, boost the representation of First Nations people in the community legal sector, and increase access to justice in NSW.
Oliver John Williams is a Wiradjuri man from Cowra who is studying a Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice/Law at UNSW. He’s chosen to work at Seniors Rights Service, and is loving the community outreach aspects of the work.
Being here and amongst it all, it’s really opened my mind and perspective to a lot of the injustices that can occur to the elderly. I really want to continue doing this work. I’m really excited for the future.
I feel very nurtured. Going to outreach clinics has been some of my favourite stuff in the program. Building that community rapport has been really good.
One thing that I’ve taken from this job and cadetship is that I would rather get a smile and a cup of coffee than any amount of money whatsoever. Just seeing the aunts and uncles and all of the seniors smile and be so happy that we’re helping them … it’s just more than anything is ever worth.
Brian Attard, First Nations man and a Solicitor with Seniors Rights Service, is supervising Oliver during his cadetship.
I am extremely impressed. As a proud First Nations man, and as a First Nations solicitor, I can sit back and know our community is in good hands [with Oliver]. I recall what one aunt said to me… she said she feels safe when she spoke to Oliver. She felt there was that rapport and trust, which is really imperative.
Tonyka Jamieson is an Awabakal woman from Lake Macquarie NSW, who’s currently in the final stages of her Juris Doctor at the University of New South Wales.
I am fortunate to be undertaking my first 6-month rotation at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre. I am loving it! Everyday I am there, I am doing different tasks and learning different things. It is wonderful to finally be able to put the skills and knowledge acquired throughout my degree into practice, and further develop these skills to assist me in getting ready for a legal career once graduated.
With a previous background in social welfare, working in a community legal centre provides me with the opportunity to combine this with legal services. Many clients who visit the centre are impacted by a range of factors, often outside the legal realm. Working within a community legal centre has given me the ability to combine my background in social welfare, and my legal studies to support vulnerable clients as much as possible!
Shaun McCarthy is the Director of University of Newcastle Legal Centre, and is supervising Tonyka during her cadetship with the community legal centre.
We are thrilled that Tonyka has joined us at the Legal Centre. From day one, Tonyka has been involved with the many activities of the Centre. She has participated in our telephone and face to face advice clinics including client interviewing and provided client intake support. Tonyka has linked up with our Wollotuka Institute and made connections with staff at the Institute.
The Cadetship program is a fabulous initiative!
Krystal Ingram is a final year Bachelor of Social Work student from Western Sydney University. She is completing her first placement at Public Interest Advocacy Centre, specifically in the Homeless Persons Legal Service.
My experience so far as been extremely positive. When I applied for the cadetship I was intimated by the thought of working in a legal setting. So, naturally, I applied for the community legal centre cadetship to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
As a social worker, especially a student, working in a legal setting can be challenging. Even so far, it’s allowed me to challenge myself in understanding how to support clients in an integrated practice.
The most interesting aspect of PIAC to me is how they are challenging the system by taking a grassroots approach with their StreetCare program. As a social worker I value the knowledge and experience of individuals with lived experience of homelessness. It’s awesome to see a big organisation as PIAC involve themselves in such a project.
I think what I most look forward to in my cadetship is further understanding the legal concerns facing individuals with lived experience of homelessness. When I finish my degree I would love the opportunity to work in a setting where they work with clients with lived experience of homelessness. I look forward to collaborating further with people who are experiencing homelessness and refining my skills as a future social worker out in the field.
The reason why I wanted to join community legal centres is I feel social workers don’t get enough legal training. Clients are often presenting with complex problems, often intertwined with legal concerns. This reiterates to me the importance of an integrated and why social workers are important in that integrated practice.
I look forward to being able to go out to the clinics that Homeless Persons Legal Service does when I stop working from home. So far, it’s been a really positive experience, and I look forward to learning more along the way.
Charmaine Jones is the project officer for StreetCare, Public Interest Advocacy Centre's Homeless Persons Legal Service’s consumer advisory committee. The role focuses on supporting a team of people with lived experiences of homelessness to be effective advocates and advisors to government. Charmaine is supervising Krystal during her cadetship.
Since we’ve had social work students, including through the First Nations Cadetship Program, we’ve been trying to develop an service model with legal and socio integration. As anyone who’s worked in any community setting will understand, people don’t suffer legal issues in isolation, often there are complex mechanisms at play at different levels in their lives. The cadetship I think is a fabulous opportunity. It would be great to see more social workers in a legal setting, so it’s been really fabulous having Krystal here.
Alongside another social work student, we’ve had Krystal working with clients that have been referred by the lawyers for various reasons. That might be help with Centrelink, housing applications, finding a medical service, or any number of the kind of social issues that people might arise.
We’ve been really happy to have Krystal here with us, and I think the cadetship is a great program. It’d be great to see it continue year after year.
About the First Nations Cadetship Program
Bobbi Murray is a Baakantji woman and the program administrator of the First Nations Cadetship Program, which is in its Inaugural year in 2022. The program is aimed at First Nations students studying in their final two years of their degree of either Law, Communications or Social Work.
Students are seconded to work in a community legal centre of their choosing (from a list of eligible community legal centres) to gain valuable on-the-ground skills and experience that will assist them to successfully employment in the community legal sector.
This program has been a huge success thus far, with cadets gaining experience in other states, participation on important research papers, attending outreach clinics, and developing relationships with partners, pro-bonos and clients that is essential to community legal centres.
This is a 2 day a week commitment of our cadets that are placed in a centre for 6 months at a time so they can broaden their experience and skills in different areas. They are encouraged to do six months in a specialist centre and six months in a generalist centre. Cadets are mentored by inhouse Aboriginal staff of the host CLC and/or CLCNSW Aboriginal Action Group (AAG). The program is flexible and supports the cadets and centres to work together help cadets though to completion of their degree.
Expressions of interest
If your community legal centre is interested in hosting a cadet and you have some work that may be of particular interest, apply today to be placed on the eligibility list.
Contact me via email@example.com or call 02 9212 7333 and press 9 for my extension to have a conversation about eligibility.