School of Indigenous Studies

Krista McMeeken


UWA Law Graduate Krista McMeeken 

I am a Nyoongar woman and I grew up in Esperance, Western Australia. Growing up, my mum always impressed upon me how important it was to get an education. I was always really focused on having a career and I was about 11 when I decided I wanted to do law.

I thought it was a profession that a lot of people respected, I thought I could help people and that I would be able to earn enough money to help support my family. I worked really hard in primary school and high school, but I spent a lot of time away undertaking other opportunities such as the Premier’s ANZAC Student Tour. When I finished year 12, my TER was just below that required by law. I contacted the School of Indigenous Studies and enrolled in the intensive summer course, the Aboriginal Pre-Law Programme.

I moved to Perth the summer of 2007/2008 just after I finished year 12 and just after my 17th birthday. I found Perth intimidating, I wasn’t used to a big city and so many new people, and I wasn’t really sure where I was meant to be or what I was meant to be doing. No one in my immediate family had gone to university and the majority of my family were still living in Esperance. The School of Indigenous Studies was really helpful in providing somewhere to go and guidance through the enrolment and university process. It was really handy having not only emotional support but also academic support. Following the Pre-Law Programme, I enrolled in the four year Bachelor of of Laws.

During my studies I feel I really made the most of every opportunity available to me, including going to events like the National Indigenous Legal Conference (NILC), so that I could get a better understanding of where my career might go, the issues affecting Aboriginal communities across Australia and the best way to give back to the community. I am currently a part of the planning committee for NILC 2012, the expert advisory panel for the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) Conference 2013 and hold the 2011 Miss NAIDOC Perth title. I had the opportunity to travel to the United Nations (UN) in New York and spoke with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and advocated for Aboriginal Australians to the UN in Geneva. My passion is international human rights and racial equality and the law is a career which gives me access to people who work in those fields and the opportunity to contribute to the resolution of those issues. There are a lot of opportunities to get involved in community and law is a great way of giving Aboriginal people a voice and fighting for social justice. Law is a great career because it is so varied, whatever your interest is there is something there for you and the School of Indigenous Studies is a great support network available to you to help you find the path that suits you.

I am also really interested in commercial law on a corporate scale and during my degree, I worked and clerked at Allens Arthur Robinson, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and in Chevron’s legal team. After completing my degree in 2011, I graduated in April 2012. I am now a Law Graduate at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and completing my Practical Legal Training and College of Law requirements for admission. Soon, I am hoping to go on secondment to the Aboriginal Legal Service one day a week to provide greater support to a service which provides much needed legal advice and support to those who can’t otherwise afford it. I feel this is a really important opportunity to give back to community. I am also a member of the Law Society’s Aboriginal Lawyers Committee which I joined as a student. This committee provides feedback on programs and initiatives affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and seeks to address the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous law graduates and practitioners.

A law degree is a great opportunity to develop your knowledge and advocacy skills and give back to your community. If you are interested in a diverse career path which both challenges and inspires you, then I would recommend considering a law degree. If you are interested, speak to someone at the School of Indigenous Studies or the UWA Law School – all the staff are really friendly and helpful. Good luck!