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Indigenous bursary a winner


Cite as: September 2013 87 (9) LIJ, p.15

Holly Charles Ireland’s law degree was hard won. While she studied, the Indigenous University of Melbourne arts-law graduate provided emotional and financial support to her family during difficult times, including the death of her maternal grandmother and material hardship. In the final year of her degree, she worked four days a week to help support her family.

Besides that, she was often the only Aboriginal student in the class which left her feeling isolated.

The Shepparton-born 27-year-old has now been rewarded for her effort by winning this year’s LIV Indigenous bursary.

“I was often the only Aboriginal student in my class, which was very isolating because some of the other students had never met an Aboriginal person and weren’t well informed about issues such as the Stolen Generations and other effects of colonisation,” Ms Charles Ireland said.

“This bursary will give me the opportunity to finish my qualification and enable me to achieve my goal of becoming a lawyer.

“I don’t know if I had an idealised version of being a lawyer in my head when I left school but I thought that was one way I could work with Aboriginal people and be really useful. That’s what I want to do.”

The bursary is an important part of the LIV’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and aims to reward an outstanding person to help them realise their goal of becoming a lawyer, according to LIV president Reynah Tang. There were five applicants for the bursary, indicating a greater number of Indigenous students wanting to study law.

“It enables the recipient to enrol in the College of Law, a practical legal training course and an important step to becoming a lawyer,” Mr Tang said.

Ms Charles Ireland is a past president of Tarwirri, an organisation that provides support to Indigenous law students and legal professionals.

“Holly is very worthy of the bursary and I wish her all the best in fulfilling her goals,” Mr Tang said.

Ms Charles Ireland, whose interests include family law and human rights law, said she was keen to use her legal skills to work in the Indigenous community.


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