A First Nations Charles Darwin University (CDU) undergraduate law student Michelle Burchill has been awarded the 2022 John Koowarta Law Scholarship.
Ms Burchill is a proud Kuku Yalanji woman originally from Mossman in tropical North Queensland and is in her first year of law as a mature-aged student at CDU.
Since 2012, Ms Burchill works part-time as an enrolled nurse based in Darwin as she studies at CDU part-time in the Territory.
In 2020, she decided to pursue a career in law and aspires to work in areas that interest her including medical-legal and criminal law, Native Title, environmental and planning law, human rights, international law and family law.
“I am very pleased and am thankful for this generous scholarship, as this award will be of financial benefit towards my studies in becoming another Indigenous lawyer," Ms Burchill.
“This is a scholarship that will definitely make a difference with my continuing education. I am truly amazed by this award.”
Ms Burchill said there were some challenges for First Nations students, which presented some barriers for those wanting to study at university.
“I think that the lack of financial, social, cultural, and emotional supports makes studying at university challenging for many Indigenous students,” Ms Burchill said.
“I imagine for many Indigenous students it is quite daunting to move interstate and leave your home and family to study. The more we can support students at university and in their communities the more they will be encouraged to explore future education.”
CDU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership, Professor Reuben Bolt congratulated Ms Burchill for her commitment to her academic success.
“This is a great achievement for Ms Burchill and makes a significant contribution to the broader issue of addressing the disparity rates across a range of portfolio areas,” Professor Bolt said.
“Education is key to this, and I congratulate Ms Burchill for taking the step to pursue tertiary education studies.”
CDU Asia Pacific College of Business and Law Dean David Low said he was excited to hear that Ms Burchill has won such a prestigious scholarship.
“Not only will it open doors for her now and into the future, but she will become yet another First Nation role model we are seeing emerge from our programs,” Professor Low said.
The John Koowarta Scholarship is a national scholarship dedicated to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students achieve their ambition of becoming a lawyer.
The scholarship honours John Koowarta, a Winychanam Elder, who pioneered Aboriginal land rights in Australia during the late 1970s and early 1980s.