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Applications sought for Indigenous law student scholarship

Applications sought for Indigenous law student scholarship

Nominations are being sought from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island students studying law for the John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship.The successful applicant will be awarded $5500 a…

Nominations are being sought from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island students studying law for the John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship.

The successful applicant will be awarded $5500 a year towards their studies.

The scholarship, which is administered by the Law Council of Australia, commemorates John Koowarta, a member of the Winychanam community at Aurukun and a traditional owner of the Archer River region on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.

Koowarta challenged the Queensland Government under the federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975 after its decision to prevent the Aboriginal Land Fund acquiring a crown lease on a pastoral property for the Winychanam people.

The decision by the Bjelke-Peterson government was based on cabinet policy at the time, which opposed ownership of large tracts of land by Aboriginal peoples.

The Queensland Government challenged the validity of the act in the High Court but was defeated.

Robert Tickner, former Commonwealth minister for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Affairs described Koowarta as "an Australian hero who was a courageous fighter against Governments which discriminate against people on the basis of race".

Koowarta died in 1991 without fulfilling his dream of seeing his traditional lands returned.

In 2007, Bruce Rudeforth was awarded the scholarship and completed his graduate law degree through the University of Western Australia. He completed his articles in 2008 and was admitted as a legal practitioner in February 2009. He has commenced a career as a litigation and insolvency lawyer at Brickhill Barristers & Solicitors in Perth.

Applications for the scholarship close on 30 November.

Public donations can also be made to the trust fund. Contributions are now 100 per cent tax deductible, after the Australian Taxation Office awarded the fund deductible gift recipient status in 2008.

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