The John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship is available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in an approved course of study provided by an Australian tertiary institute, which is a prerequisite to admission as a legal practitioner in any Australian jurisdiction.
The John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship 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. Mr Koowarta challenged the Queensland Government under the Federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975 after its decision to prevent the Aboriginal Land Fund from 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 Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in the High Court and was defeated. The High Court’s decision was later pivotal in the recognition of native title in Mabo v Queensland (No.2).
Mr Koowarta was described by Robert Tickner, the former Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (1991-96), as "an Australian hero who was a courageous fighter against Governments which discriminate against people on the basis of race." John Koowarta died in 1991 without fulfilling his dream of seeing his traditional lands returned.
The John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship Trust was established 1994, with a $200,000 contribution from the Federal Government. The Law Council of Australia helped establish the Koowarta Scholarship and continues to act as trustee and administrator.
The Law Council is proud of the outstanding success of the John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship, which has assisted several indigenous Australians in completing their legal studies, many of whom have gone on to make valuable contributions to their communities, the legal profession and Australia.
Applications for the 2011 Scholarship round have closed. If you would like to be notified when the 2012 round opens, please send an email to email@example.com.
The John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship has assisted a number of Indigenous Law Students across Australia to complete their legal studies.
Ms Terri Janke was awarded a scholarship in 1995 to help her complete her studies at the University of New South Wales and at the New South Wales College of Law. Terri is now a leading international authority on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights.
Ms Gina Masterton was a scholarship recipient from 1996 to 1999, and graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2000. She was admitted to the Queensland Supreme Court and the High Court of Australia as a Barrister-at-Law, before subsequently accepting an offer to continue her legal career in the US, where she now lives and works.
Mr Nathan Jarro was a scholarship recipient from 1996 to 1999 when he graduated from the Queensland University of Technology. He now is a Queensland Barrister, a member of the Queensland Bar, and owns his own civil practice.
Mr Jason Briggs was a scholarship recipient in 1997 and 1998, whilst undertaking his final year at Melbourne University. Jason was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria in December 1998.
Ms June Kenny was awarded a scholarship in 1999 and completed her legal studies at Murdoch University. She now works in private practice focusing on litigation, industrial law, equal opportunity, defamation, trusts, real property and intellectual property. June also provides advice to Indigenous and other corporations on corporate governance matters. In July 2005 June became a partner of Dwyer Durack and heads their General Litigation Department.
Ms Tammy Williams was a recipient of the scholarship in 2000 and graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in June 2001. In 2003 she was named the ‘Emergent Young Lawyer of the Year’ by the Women Lawyers Assocation of Queensland. She is currently a Director on the Board of Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships in Cape York, Queensland.
Mr Terrence Stedman was a recipient of the scholarship from 2001 to 2004, studying at Griffith University in Queensland. Terrence completed the requirements for admission as a lawyer in Queensland and was admitted as a Legal Practitioner in 2006.
Ms Leanne Liddle was a recipient of the scholarship from 2001 to 2004, studying at Flinders University, South Australia. Leanne currently works at the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage as an Aboriginal Parks and Wildlife Programs Coordinator.
Mr Bruce Rudeforth was awarded the scholarship in 2007 and successfully completed his graduate law degree through the University of Western Australia. He completed Articles in 2008 and was admitted as a legal practitioner in February 2009. Bruce has now commenced a promising career as a litigation/insolvency lawyer at Brickhill Barristers & Solicitors in Perth.
Ms Stephanie Bott was awarded the scholarship in 2007, until completing her combined Bachelor of Laws/International Studies in 2009. Stephanie continued to receive the scholarship while on exchange to Uppsala University in Sweden in 2008. She is now working as a graduate legal officer in the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, whilst concurrently completing College of Law part time.
The Law Council of Australia welcomes public donations to the John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship Trust Fund. Public donations to the Scholarship are 100 per cent tax deductible to the donor, after the Australian Tax Office granted the Scholarship Trust Fund Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status in 2008.
Public charitable donations to the fund help to build the number of law scholarships which can be awarded to Indigenous Australians through the John Koowarta Scholarship Trust Fund. The Scholarship is extremely valuable to Indigenous students, many of whom face significant challenges at university, particularly the demanding study-load required of law degree candidates.
A legal education increases the range of opportunities available for Indigenous people and, in turn, is one small measure toward ‘closing the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
For more information about the Scholarship or to make a tax deductable contribution to the scholarship trust fund, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.