For over 10 years, UNSW Law has participated in the Nura Gili Indigenous Winter School Program. This program gives Indigenous high school students in Years 10-12 the opportunity to experience life on campus for a week as university students; living in College, participating in cultural activities run by Nura Gili – UNSW’s Indigenous Programs Unit – and, most importantly, taking taster classes in Law. In this way, students are able to form impressions about whether studying Law in future is for them and, if so, gather information about entry pathways, such as the annual Indigenous Pre-Law Program.
The Winter School experience often motivates Indigenous students to persist with their high school education by making it clear that university is an achievable option for them. Most Winter School students are the first in their families to approach completing high school; let alone contemplate attending university. Winter School breaks down many negative stereotypes about Indigenous students undertaking university education and forging professional careers.
The group of twelve Winter School Law students were part of a cohort of over 100 students across most UNSW faculties. Winter School students form strong bonds of friendship and continue to support each other once the program is over. Thanks to the involvement of many current UNSW Indigenous students in all aspects of Winter School, the Winter School students are surrounded by many positive role models and mentors, whose influence cannot be underestimated.
This year’s Law Winter School group enthusiastically and capably engaged with a range of challenging activities, the likes of which puzzle many first year Law students. These included discussions about the place of law in today’s society and what might be the next steps in Recognition of Indigenous Peoples, as well as skills-based legal exercises such as statutory interpretation and case reading. It was a steep, exhilarating learning curve as students quickly learnt to speak like accomplished barristers and advocate effectively for their clients in a moot scenario.
The Winter School students also gained different insights into the practice of law and possible career directions through visiting Kingsford Legal Centre as well as Gilbert+Tobin. Each of these experiences allowed students to appreciate the importance of ensuring that access to justice is available for all who need it – a principle that has always resonated at UNSW Law.
We wish the Winter School Law students every success in completing their high school studies and trust that their time with us will have convinced them to seek a tertiary education in due course.