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Taking the steps to build a better future

18/08/2022 |

Wanting to be a lawyer who can fight for their people and their rights is something that is of utmost importance to those who decide to undertake law as a career. 

For Brianne Yarran, this is the reason she decided to undertake a Juris Doctor postgraduate course at The University of Western Australia (UWA).

Speaking at National Sorry Day and other events around Perth when she was in Year 12, Ms Yarran shared stories of her grandmothers’ Stolen Generation experiences. "It was from hearing stories and the trauma experiences by my nans that I asked ‘how is this allowed?’,” she said. “That was when I truly discovered the legal aspect of the Stolen Generations and it sparked my interest in law.”

Now in her first year of the Juris Doctor, Ms Yarran hopes to ensure the future of her people are far greater than what the older generations experienced. “The Juris Doctor will allow me to make the change,” she said. 

I hope to ensure the future of my people are far greater than what the older generations experienced - Brianne Yarran

In his final semester of the course, Tyson McEwan said he aimed to begin his legal career upon completion of the Juris Doctor, with a long-term goal of giving back to the community. “I have always been one to help wherever I can,” he said. “I felt that my strength is advocacy and, with a legal career, it can assist me in achieving my potential in life.”

Kick-starting his goal of giving back, Mr McEwan attended the Uluru Statement from the Heart summit in Cairns this year as a member of the Uluru Youth group. “It is an honour to be a part of – to be able to contribute to discussion and listen to community leaders,” he said. “I was able to meet other like-minded youth from around Australia with the same purpose of advocating for an Indigenous, constitutionally enshrined voice in the Australian Constitution. "Over the course of the summit, there was a growing energy of optimism about the future of Australia.”

Ms Yarran, who also attended the summit, said it allowed young people to take part in effecting change for the future. "It's a great honour because we, as youth, get to be in a space where we can contribute ideas and have conversations about issues that will impact our futures,” she said. “It’s amazing that the senior leadership has been so supportive of us youth, and we understand that one day senior leadership will pass the baton onto us and we must be ready to fight the fight.”

I felt that my strength is advocacy and, with a legal career, it can assist me in achieving my potential in life - Tyson McEwan

Fellow Juris Doctor student Douglas Nelson, who is due to complete the degree in mid-2023, said it was the power to engage with each other on what it meant to be human that inspired him to take the course.

“When you see young people roaming the streets at 2am in the morning, there is a reason for that,” he said. “Within my lifetime, what I have seen is the primary value youth have never known is parental love – they don’t know what it is.

“They resort to mischief, pranks and criminal activities in order to gain acknowledgement and attention to validate their existence or self-worth, or it could be other vitiating factors such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, drug or alcohol violence, or nothing to eat at home.

“It is a distortion of human spirit – what it means to be human. “This relates to the skills you acquire in the Juris Doctor. It is the ability to not only assess a situation regardless of its context but to cognitively engage in a process of critical thought and the human spirit.”

It is the ability to not only assess a situation regardless of its context but to cognitively engage in a process of critical thought and the human spirit - Douglas Nelson

Mr Nelson has been teaching in The Indigenous Knowledge, History and Heritage major offered by the School of Indigenous Studies at UWA since 2019 and is also part of the Community of Inquiry program.

“The Community of Inquiry program is a methodological scientific inquiry into a particular text or image,” he said. “The method opens the platform for participants to generate conversation of not what to think but how to think. 

“It fosters openness and insights that allow participants to become aware of their own preconceived ideas and concepts, as well as become willing to shed their own mode of thinking in order to enhance their understanding of the topic and their own potential.”

To learn more about UWA's Juris Doctor visit



This article originally appeared in The West Australian and has been published with consent. 

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