Fantastic Four: Inspirational Women in Law
Getting back into the headspace to study again after the summer break can be a strenuous and tedious activity. Needless to say, it can be difficult to get inspired. Fear not, fellow weary scholars. I’d like to share with you all my Fantastic Four – Inspirational Women of Law.
Retired Sydney magistrate O’Shane is an indigenous Australian of the Kunjandji clan of the Yalangi people, and a bit of a bad-ass. O’Shane was the first Aboriginal teacher in Queensland, the first Aboriginal to earn a law degree, the first Aboriginal barrister, the first woman and indigenous person to be the head of a government department and the first Aboriginal magistrate. Aside from being a woman of firsts, she has never been one to mince words; according to O’Shane, it is necessary for indigenous women to be political due to experiencing both sex and racial discrimination during their lifetime.
Following a stint as the youngest ever Federal prosecutor in Perth, Rabia moved to the UK to work within human rights law. On the same week as the September 11 attacks, Rabia was commissioned as a Legal Officer in the British Army in 2001 and found herself stationed in Southern Iraq. And that’s where things got really intense, with Rabia and another solider taken hostage in 2005. After being released, her colleague was awarded a Military Cross but Rabia received nothing. Rabia took the British Army to court in a landmark discrimination case. Rabia returned to Australia in 2011 and worked as Legal Counsel to the WA Commissioner of Police and the Corruption and Crime Commission WA. Rabia wrote a best-selling memoir in 2013, “Equal Justice” which is currently in its sixth reprint. NBD.
Hon Chief Justice Catherine Holmes is the first female chief justice of Queensland and has vowed to make the Supreme Courts of Queensland are as un-newsworthy as possible, following the Tim Carmody debacle. The Chief Justice was a founding member of the Women’s Legal Service in Qld and also sued former National Party premier Rob Borbidge in 1997 after he publicly criticized her for leniency towards offenders during her time on the Community Corrections Board. The case was settled out of court, with Hon Chief Justice reportedly receiving 5000 clams from Borbidge.
Jennifer Robinson is one of those ridiculously inspiriting women in their 30s, who I can’t help but compare myself to. Which is a pointless exercise, as I haven’t even changed out of my pajamas yet (or finished my law degree), and Robinson has already achieved SO much; Director of Legal Advocacy for the Bertha Foundation, Adjunct Lecturer in Law at the University of Sydney Law School, and she has worked with clients such as Julian Assange, Richard Dawkins, and Benny Wenda. Her passion for the West Papuan independence movement is more than evident in her Tedx talk to over 2500 audience members, where she highlighted human rights issues within West Papua.
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