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Henry supports Aboriginal legal justice

13 July, 2022

UWA Law student Henry Taylor has contributed 100 hours towards the valuable work being done at Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA), one of the largest community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal organisations in Australia, through an internship with UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship.

Henry was inspired to apply for the internship after attending a guest lecture in criminal justice given by the Centre’s founder and chairman, The Hon. Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA.

Fortuitously, Henry’s internship role saw him support ALSWA’s Criminal Law Unit, assisting senior lawyers by undertaking case research, reviewing materials, contacting clients, preparing documents and collecting files from across the Children’s, District and Supreme Courts.

“The most rewarding element was meeting and working with so many smart, motivated and passionate people at ALSWA,” said Henry.

“This experience has been invaluable, as I am planning on pursuing a career in either criminal law or law enforcement when I graduate. The biggest highlight was getting to assist a senior criminal lawyer work on an upcoming murder trial,” he said.

Internship supervisor and ALSWA Senior Lawyer, Nikki Wilson, said “Henry’s hard-working nature was a welcome addition to the Criminal Unit Team during his internship at ALSWA and the work he has completed with us provided support not only to the lawyers but also to the positive resolution of client matters.”

Assisting the Criminal Law Unit meant Henry was also challenged by many confronting elements of this work, viewing emotionally distressing evidence, witnessing the impact of intersecting issues such as drug and alcohol abuse issues, mental health issues or homelessness, and assisting on cases with children in custody.

“My internship has opened my eyes to the extent of the numerous legal and socio-economic issues faced by many Indigenous Australians, such as youth incarceration, homelessness, poverty, language barriers and lack of access to legal representation,” said Henry.

“My internship at ALSWA has made me grateful for a lot of things I normally take for granted and has motivated and inspired me to pursue more volunteering opportunities in the future,” he said.

Henry says he would “highly recommend” a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship to other UWA students.

“My internship has provided valuable first-hand experience and insight into WA’s criminal justice system. It also gave me an insight into the day-to-day work of a criminal lawyer,” said Henry.

“This experience was one of the highlights of my Juris Doctor studies. My internship was a massive step out of my comfort zone where I got to meet great people and undertake interesting and challenging work,” he said.