Sydney Spotlight with Teela Reid

7 November 2022

A conversation with our First Nations Lawyer in Residence

We speak with proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman and our First Nations Lawyer in Residence, Teela Reid about her experience working on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the importance of mobilising our community to empower First Nations peoples.
Teela Reid

The advocacy for the Uluru Statement from the Heart has been…

unrelenting and galvanising for the Australian people. The Uluru Statement is an invitation issued to the Australian people to walk towards Voice, Treaty and Truth. The journey has really been about going directly to the people, mobilising the grassroots community and building a peoples' movement. The only reason it remains on the national agenda is because of people power!

Being a First Nations lawyer in residence at the University is important to me because…

stepping into an institution like Sydney Law School, the oldest law school in Australia as First Nations people, we were never meant to occupy these spaces of white privilege and power. Dismantling colonial legacies within the law and disrupting the status quo is crucial for change. Representation matters not just for Indigenous law students or lawyers, but for our profession generally. I feel like there is an entire generation of upcoming lawyers who want to be agents for positive change, and it's obvious our profession is challenged by this – I welcome it!

As a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, a milestone during my fight to stop the systematic oppression of First Nations people in Australia has been…

that my family can see the work I do as a lawyer. To me each day is a milestone knowing that my Ancestors fought hard for the opportunities I have. To me, it's not so much about milestones or awards but it is about striving to leave a legacy for the next generation of First Nations kids, with the understanding I stand on the shoulders of giants, my Elders. 

Starting the Blackfulla Bookclub has been a great experience because…

it is a celebration of our First Nations Ancestors as the original storytellers. I feel very privileged to have grown up with the stories of my old people, many passed down to me by my late grandfather around the campfire. To me, these stories continue to be some of the greatest lessons of my life. 

My message to Australians about supporting and helping empower First Nations peoples would be…

understand your own agency in creating systemic change. If you live in so-called Australia, you have an obligation not only to know the truth of our history but to forge a better future for First Nations people. The roadmap to reckoning is the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Our nation is on course to go to a referendum for a First Nations Voice to Parliament and every Australian is now a campaigner. You have a choice to stand on the right side of history!

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