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1st Indigenous appointments for SA judiciary

Two Aboriginal women have been appointed to South Australia’s judiciary in a historic first for the state. 

user iconJess Feyder 09 February 2023 The Bar
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The South Australian government has appointed Indigenous Australians to the judiciary for the first time in the state’s history.

In a landmark moment for the state, Lana Chester and Natalie Browne will take up positions as magistrates.

“This is an exciting moment for South Australia,” stated South Australian Attorney-General Kyam Maher.

 
 

“It is important that the judiciary reflects the diversity of the South Australian population. Aboriginal people have not been represented in areas like this for far too long,” he said. 

Ms Chester has over 25 years of experience in criminal law, working with the Legal Services Commission (LSC). She is currently working as a senior Youth Court lawyer with the LSC. She has extensive background working in the supreme, district, and youth courts. 

Ms Browne has nearly 20 years of experience in criminal law. She commenced in private practice in 2003 and then practised with the LSC, first as senior duty solicitor and later working in the commission’s criminal law practice division and as a senior solicitor in grants. 

Both Ms Chester and Ms Browne participated in Aboriginal cadetship programs early in their respective careers. 

“Both Ms Chester and Ms Browne are exceptionally qualified, experienced appointees with a wealth of knowledge and experience that I’m sure will serve them well during their time in the Magistrates Court,” stated Mr Maher. 

“I look forward to seeing these women serve in the judiciary with distinction, and hope they inspire other Aboriginal people either working in or considering a career in the law, to follow in their footsteps.”

The Honourable Chris Kourakis, Chief Justice of South Australia, commented on the appointments: “Courts which properly reflect the diversity of the community they serve are better placed to administer the law fairly and justly for two primary reasons. 

“First, the collective knowledge of the judiciary of the challenges and strengths of all sections of society is broadened. 

“Secondly, the legitimacy of the courts in administering justice is enhanced in the community.”

Kaurna and Narungga elder Yvonne Agius, founder of the Nunga Court, commented that the day made her “proud”, NITV reported on 3 February.

“It will make our people feel much better being in front of their own people.

“I also wish that there were many more taking over, because it’s about time,” she stated.

Ms Chester and Ms Browne commenced in their roles on 3 February.