Aboriginal legal beagle

LAW WEEK 14 – 18 May 2018

A HIGHLIGHT of this month’s Law Week will be a discussion about female Aboriginal leaders in the legal industry.

Contributing to the panel debate will be Kelsi Forrest, a Wajak Barlardong Mineng Nyungar, who was awarded the inaugural Aboriginal Women’s Legal Education Trust Scholarship in 2012.

She now works in the Indigenous law team at Roe Legal Services, dealing with native title claims and representing a number of Aboriginal Corporations and Indigenous Trusts.

“Education should be the number one priority in terms of ensuring more Aboriginal people are able to pursue opportunities not only in law, but in other professions as well,” Ms Forrest says.

“I also think that having support from within the profession is important to achieve wider representation of Aboriginal people.

“I know that a few Aboriginal school students will be in attendance at our Law Week event and I think the value of hearing from our esteemed panel cannot be underestimated.

“It is important to show the younger generation that roles in the law are not too far out of reach if you work hard and set your mind to it.”

Ms Forrest grew up in Geraldton before moving to Perth to study at UWA in 2011.

She says that scholarships were an invaluable help while she was at university.

• Kelsi Forrest

“Financial issues should be the least of your worries whilst at university, and unfortunately that is not the case for a lot of students, but having scholarships allows you to focus on studying and ensuring you can achieve the best results,” she says.

“These scholarships not only assisted financially, but networking opportunities also arose though each of them…”

Ms Forrest was admitted to practice in the WA Supreme Court in December last year and the High Court of Australia in March, and says time is now her biggest enemy.

“One of the main challenges I faced and still face is juggling a number of commitments that have arisen because of my interests in fostering reconciliation and mentoring young people,” she says.

“There are many opportunities for young Aboriginal people to be involved in their community and engage with initiatives and I have found that it is really easy to overcommit yourself.

“Sometimes you need to sit back and realise that you need to look after yourself and ensure your mental health and wellbeing are prioritised.”

There’s loads of other interesting events in Perth for Law Week, including free legal information sessions, wills day, cyber safety for teachers and the family law property session.

“Law Week is an annual opportunity for the legal profession to engage with the Western Australian community to build a shared understanding of the vital role of the law in our society,” says a spokesperson for the Law Society.

“The law affects each of our daily lives—from knowing our rights under the law, creating employment contracts, how a mediation works, setting up a business, having a will prepared or simply knowing what to do or where to go for legal assistance.”

Law Week is being held in Perth from May 14–18.

To found what’s on go to http://www.lawsocietywa.asn.au/community/law-week/

My culture my story: Aboriginal women leaders in law is at the Old Court House Law Museum, Stirling Gardens, at 11am on Friday May 18. Update: this event is now fully booked.

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