We are honoured to introduce Bundjalung woman Amelia Otton.
Amelia is a lawyer at the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, a role she says changed her life on all fronts. The ability to work in a way which honours who she is as an Aboriginal woman, with her communities, and in an environment which is incredibly supportive under Keryn Ruska, the managing principal lawyer, has been a refreshing start to her legal career as a practitioner.
Amelia graduated Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Laws in 2021 and has worked at a number of CLCs and Legal Aid Queensland, across a number of roles, from admin to legal professional. She articulates so beautifully the benefits of working with First Nations communities as an Aboriginal woman and the ability to relate to their experiences and put them at ease because of her lived experience of neurodivergence and a complex family history. Her raw honesty is inspiring and the change she has been able to create for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in her career already is a testament to her work ethic and fierce advocacy. She says being able to relate to, and create respectful space for people’s stories is one of the many benefits to working in a CLC, but in a community-controlled organisation in particular.
The stories she tells of her experience as a young lawyer highlight how truly critical it is for the legal sector more broadly to increase the number of First Nations legal professions in the sector if we are serious about closing the gap, reducing incarceration, and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice, domestic and family violence and child protection systems. The intersection of her cultural knowledge and legal knowledge has changed the lives of countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, individuals and families already, who stand at the steps of our legal system completely disempowered far too often. Her ability to break down the barriers for First Nations peoples and step them through complex legal issues in a culturally safe way is inspirational.
Amelia credits her success to growing up blak– she speaks so fondly of her experience as the oldest sibling and her love for being a sister; through the highs and lows of family life she says the close relationship she has with her siblings keeps her grounded and gives her purpose. She loves being able to show them what blak success can look like, and being able to role model where you can go if you grasp opportunities with both hands.
Amelia is also the founder of Rose Creations, her Aboriginal creative art business, and if you haven’t checked it out, please do! www.rosecreations.com.au