As I arrived at the courtroom for the very last time after 26 years, I think about my career and how I brought about change. I never thought I would want to study law and become a public servant but certain events in my life has made me think differently. The racism that I experienced at an early age made me learn how to fight for myself and brought out my battle spirit. The teachers and fellow students would treat me a certain way but my parents had helped me to hold my head up high and learn that even though I come from a different background, I could achieve success as well as anybody else.
Being a half-caste was difficult. I did not have the same rights as everybody in Australia and I was very fearful that I would be taken away from my family to be put with white-run reserves. Despite all the adversities I faced, I managed to get a full education and graduate as a teacher in Queensland. In fact, I was the first Indigenous woman. When I moved to Sydney, I realised that I wanted to become a lawyer when after I heard of an incident which police officers were charged with violence against two indigenous women. When I heard of this case, I was very unimpressed in the way the police officers were being treated like they were the victims and the two women were being treated as if they were the perpetrators of the offense simply because of their heritage. That’s when I realised I wanted to do something that could help them and change their situation, I wanted to become an advocate for Aboriginal people.
When I finally graduated from University of New South Wales, I was set on my path to initiate change in the community. Already I had become the first Aboriginal woman in Australia to complete a law degree and become a barrister. I was able to influence an unfair system, from within. But my main priority was to enhance the health, housing and education facilities for my people as I knew what it was like living in poor conditions in Queensland. As a lawyer, I was very focused on the land rights of Aboriginals and I was the leader...