With a thirst for knowledge and ambitions to create positive social change, Matt has made the most of the opportunities at UNSW Law & Justice.

For Matt Jarrett, the human aspect of the law sparks his curiosity. Fascinated by people, society and the human story in every facet of the law, Matt recognises that when social values are paired with the role the law plays, people can make real change.

“As a proud Dunghutti fella, I made a conscious decision to study at UNSW because I am passionate about social justice and creating opportunities for better outcomes for First Nations peoples. UNSW has a great reputation for being proactive on social issues and reflecting those values in the courses offered.”

Alongside his studies, Matt is currently working as a Legal Research Assistant at the corporate law firm Gilbert + Tobin, a career direction that initially took him by surprise. However, the relationship between UNSW and Gilbert + Tobin opened his eye to how many ways a law degree can make a change.

“Like UNSW, Gilbert + Tobin played a very important role in supporting the process that led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Corporate firms wield substantial influence. When that influence is put to work for a social cause, the impact is undeniably felt.”

Matt was awarded the 2022 Terri Janke and Company Award to support his continued studies and career development in corporate law. The award intends to support a senior Indigenous law student of UNSW Law & Justice each year who demonstrates an interest in corporate or commercial law. 

Dr Terri Janke is a UNSW Law & Justice Bachelor of Arts/Law alumna, Wutathi and Meriam woman, and an Indigenous cultural and intellectual property expert. Dr Janke founded Terri Janke and Company, an Indigenous-owned and run law firm with expertise in commercial and intellectual property law.

A pathway to making a difference

Matt's journey to study law wasn't linear. With ambitions to work in policy, Matt commenced his studies at university as a mature age student through the University Preparation Program. This experience made him aware of the Indigenous Pre-programs available at UNSW and sparked his interest in combining his passion for policy change with studies in law.

"During this 3-week intensive program in December 2019, my love of the law was born. I could see that studying law, social research, and policy would give me an understanding of the entire process of change-making. From identifying an area of social deficit, along with the influences and actors that make it so, all the way to affecting substantive change through legislative reform."

UNSW's Indigenous Pre-Law program is a degree-specific intensive program that invites students to campus for three weeks to immerse themselves in university study and degree-specific classes. The program also provides an alternative entry pathway to many UNSW degrees and allows you to connect with the community before your first year.

Giving back to future law students

Matt reflects that his most meaningful experience while at UNSW has been the opportunity to give back to the programs that impacted his journey. In 2020 and 2021, Matt participated in the Pre-Law program as a tutor and mentor to First Nations students.

"I have an enormity of gratitude for both the University Preparation Program (UPP) and Pre-Law programs. Knowing how significant the Pre-Law program was to my current trajectory made the experience of contributing to other First Nations students' journeys in such a way extremely rewarding," he says.

Matt hopes to continue using his degree to positively impact First Nations people wherever he ends up applying his studies. 

“I want to see First Nations peoples and communities thrive as much as possible. If I can positively influence the way First Nations peoples and the broader Australian community relate to each other on a large scale through policy work, fantastic.

If I get to advocate for people who need a voice in the courts, fantastic. If I help just one person get off an unjust criminal charge or punitive fine that would impose undue hardship, fantastic. The options are ample, and all are worthwhile.”

UNSW Indigenous Pre-Law program

UNSW Indigenous Pre-programs provide you with a stepping stone to your dream degree.

Co-delivered by Nura Gili: Centre for Indigenous Programs and UNSW Law & Justice, our degree-specific Pre-Law program will prepare you to hit the ground running on day one of your degree. 

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