Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


Aboriginal Law Student Mentoring Program

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister please inform the council about the launch of the 2023 Aboriginal Law Student Mentoring Program?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:58): I thank the Hon. Reginald Martin for his question and his interest in this area. A few weeks ago I had the distinct privilege to attend the 2023 launch of the Aboriginal Law Student Mentoring Program, held at the offices of the Law Society here in Adelaide.

It's a fantastic program that provides support and mentorship for Aboriginal people studying law at any university in South Australia, both through their studies and their professional development. The students are matched with experienced members of the legal profession to form a mentorship for the building of a relationship during their time in the legal profession, providing them with advice on how to navigate law school, university life generally and building connections with others, which helps set the student up for a career they may wish to pursue.

Last year, after having attended the end-of-year celebrations for this program, I informed the chamber about the work of the program in 2022. With the new cohort of students in 2023, it was exciting to see new faces in the program and a fresh group of students coming through the ranks who will one day make up our lawyers, advocates, possibly politicians and perhaps members of the judiciary.

During the launch of the event this year, I had the opportunity to welcome new and existing Aboriginal law students to the mentoring program. Those students then got a chance to hear from two recently appointed magistrates: Magistrate Lana Chester and Magistrate Natalie Browne, who recently made history as the first Aboriginal people to be appointed to the judiciary in South Australia's history.

Congratulations again to these two fantastic people on their hugely deserved appointments. Both Magistrates Chester and Browne spoke with such heart and conviction when addressing the students, imparting their encouraging words and wisdom on how to navigate the pressures of law school and why it's worth pushing through the difficulties of study to start a career that can be so rewarding and impactful for the whole of the Aboriginal community and South Australia generally.

Also present at the launch were Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal, Judge Katrina Bochner, the Hon. Chief Justice Chris Kourakis and the Chief Judge of the District Court, Michael Evans. I think it says something about the esteem in which this program is held that the heads of each of the three levels of the judiciary in South Australia—the Supreme Court, the District Court and the Magistrates Court—were all in attendance at this event.

It was also good to see my colleague from the other place the Hon. Josh Teague (member for Heysen) as the shadow attorney-general attending the event, who has been a supporter of this program for some time. I have seen him at a number of these events and that show of bipartisan support I think is an important thing in this area.

In particular, I want to thank everyone who helped organise the event, especially everyone from the Aboriginal Law Student Mentoring Program Management Committee who coordinates the program, and all the sponsors who ensure the program continues to thrive and support more Aboriginal students as they complete their studies, and then enter and flourish in the legal profession.