A new $200,000 scholarship will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to gain valuable work experience in community legal centres across New South Wales.
Our First Nations Cadetship program will be funded by the Commonwealth Government and administered by Legal Aid NSW.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said four university students will undertake cadetships at four community legal centres, where they will receive training and mentoring.
“The cadetships will offer crucial work experience for these promising young students, providing them with opportunities to kickstart their careers,” Mr Speakman said.
"Strengthening the cultural understanding of community legal centres will boost access to justice for First Nations people.”
The one-off cadetship program is open to Aboriginal students in the final two years of a degree in law, social work, community development or communications.
The scholarships aim to address the underrepresentation of First Nations peoples in the legal sector and help community legal centres meet commitments and access to justice and employment outcomes made under their Reconciliation Action Plans.
Community Legal Centres NSW Executive Director Tim Leach said Aboriginal people make up a considerable proportion of community legal centre clients.
“Cadets will undoubtedly bring knowledge, skills and expertise that will strengthen our services. These cadetships will have many benefits, including providing vital work experience to First Nations students and encouraging cadets to think about a career in a community legal centre,” Mr Leach said.
Community Legal Centres NSW will employ one part-time Aboriginal staff member to support the scheme, and cadets will receive training and mentoring from the Community Legal Centres NSW Aboriginal Advisory Group.
The program draws on Legal Aid NSW’s highly regarded Judge Bob Bellear Legal Careers Pathways Cadetship Program. It will run state-wide with a focus on community legal centres in regional NSW, Western Sydney and South Western Sydney.
Eligible community legal centres must already employ at least one First Nations staff member, who may also provide the cadets with informal mentoring support.
Applications are expected to open in the second half of 2021.