Jason O’Neil is a proud Wiradjuri man, and the Executive Director of Ngalaya, the peak body of First Nations lawyers and law students in NSW & the ACT.
“His appointment marks a new era in the Faculty’s Indigenous student support”, says Professor Andrew Lynch, Dean of UNSW Law & Justice.
“Jason’s position is now shared with Nura Gili and aims to deepen the integration between central institutional support provided by the PVC Indigenous portfolio and that which is provided in the Faculty. This realises an important goal of the UNSW Indigenous Strategy.”
We’ve asked Jason a few questions to learn more about his journey to becoming the Director of Indigenous Legal Education at UNSW Law & Justice.
I am a Wiradjuri man from Central West NSW. I first came to UNSW in late 2012 to participate in the Indigenous Pre-Law Program. After graduating UNSW with a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours and University Medal) and Bachelor of Laws, I returned in 2019 to pursue a PhD at UNSW Nura Gili. Over the last three years I’ve volunteered with Ngalaya to grow and support the network of First Nations lawyers across the state.
UNSW Law & Justice has a long history of Indigenous legal education and commitment to social justice. My role is focused on working with Nura Gili and UNSW staff to provide pastoral and academic support to First Nations students in the Faculty of Law & Justice. In this role, I am also responsible for supporting First Nations people to study law at UNSW by running the Indigenous Pre-Law Program and other Indigenous programs in the faculty.
How is it aligned with the UNSW Indigenous Strategy?
The Director of Legal Education role is responsible for leading UNSW Law & Justice’s implementation of the UNSW Indigenous Strategy.
The role aligns with the ‘Grow Our Own’ and ‘Giving Back’ pillars of the strategy by working to support and grow the next generation of First Nations legal practitioners and scholars.
I am looking forward to welcoming students back on campus in 2022. There are second year Indigenous law students who have barely had an on-campus university experience, so I am committed to helping them make up for lost time connecting with their peers and exploring what university life has to offer.
It has also been several years since the Faculty has been able to host the Mooting Competition of Australia’s First Peoples. Having run the mooting competition as a student with the former Director of Indigenous Legal Education, I am looking forward to working with students to hold the sixth iteration of the competition in 2022.
I am excited and committed to building on UNSW Law & Justice’s strong history of Indigenous legal education, with over 120 First Nations law graduates and hundreds more to come. There is always more that we can be doing to support students, and as the social justice law school, the work of combatting racism and First Nations erasure within Australia’s legal and education systems has no end date.