Encouraging Aboriginals to pursue a career in law is the motivation behind a new TAFE course developed with the help of the Law Society of South Australia (LSSA).
Due to begin this year, the new course is the result of a three-year commitment by the LSSA's Indigenous Law Students Mentoring Committee to develop a tiered system of education aimed at increasing the number of Aboriginals interested in pursuing either a career in law or seeking employment in a law-related occupation.
"We noticed that we weren't getting an increase in the number of Aboriginals entering the universities to study law and once having entered university, quite a number of them weren't finishing," said Michael Brooks, chair of the LSSA's community relations committee.
To address this deficiency and uncover the underlying issues impeding Aboriginals' access to education, the LSSA conducted a forum in Port Augusta which was attended by community representatives, universities and other related organisations.
"We then looked at the education process and, through the assistance of quite a number of groups including TAFE SA and the South Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council, and the support from other sectors, we designed this course," Brooks explained.
"I suppose this is just a start...If you can increase their confidence; increase their appetite to pursue some sort of qualification...then hopefully [that] will result in an increase in the number of Aboriginals working in the field."
Brooks said the TAFE course is unique to Australia given its endorsement by the LSSA, which will provide support through the provision of tutors, lecturers and work experience opportunities.
"[The course] has been specifically designed to assist with their education, but also [to] support [them] while they're getting their education," he said.
Starting on a small scale in Port Augusta, Brooks said the plan is to build on the program's success and eventually expand to other areas in South Australia.
"We're excited. It's been a three-year commitment for the Law Society to investigate this. It's taken three years but we're keen to see it roll out this year."