Le­gal break­through

Weekend Courier - - Opinion -

GOLDEN Bay res­i­dent Dayna Lazarides hopes to re­form Aus­tralian law and re­duce the over­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­ders in pris­ons.

Stu­dents from Mur­doch’s third-year So­cial and Wel­fare Law unit re­searched the is­sue of Indige­nous in­car­cer­a­tion rates and sug­gested le­gal mea­sures.

The stu­dents’ sub­mis­sions were ac­cepted by the Aus­tralian Law Re­form Com­mis­sion, which will now con­sider changes to laws to help ad­dress the prob­lem.

Ms Lazarides said she was happy and proud to have her sub­mis­sion ac­cepted.

“Through the sub­mis­sion process I learnt to use a voice I never had be­fore,” she said. “I also learnt about the dis­ad­van­tages that Indige­nous Aus­tralians liv­ing in very re­mote ar­eas face”.

Ms Lazarides said writ­ing the sub­mis­sion helped her un­der­stand how leg­is­la­tion was not al­ways ben­e­fi­cial to all in the com­mu­nity.

“Work­ing within the area of law re­form re­ally ap­pealed to me and now I am com­plet­ing my prac­ti­cal le­gal train­ing at the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fender’s Of­fice of Western Aus­tralia, where I am as­sist­ing in law re­form projects daily,” she said.

Mur­doch law lec­turer Anna Not­ley, who teaches the unit, said she en­cour­aged all her stu­dents to make sub­mis­sions.

“The pro­fes­sional skill re­quired to write such a sub­mis­sion is highly val­ued by em­ploy­ers,” she said. “It is also quite an achieve­ment to have sub­mis­sions ac­cepted along­side those of judges, so­cial jus­tice lawyers and top pol­icy mak­ers, as our stu­dents were for this in­quiry.”

The stu­dents’ fi­nal re­port will be tabled in Par­lia­ment and re­leased later this year.

Law stu­dent Dayna Lazarides.

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