In February, at just 21 years old, Lenique Lawson walked the length of her lounge room nursing her contractions, whilst proofreading her final university assessment, completing her law degree. The following day she gave birth to her second baby, Talulah.
Last week, the now 22-year-old was admitted to the legal profession in the Rockhampton Supreme Court. In July, she began working for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) and in January 2021 she begins her new position at the Queensland Human Rights Commission.
Born and raised in Rockhampton, Lenique began her law degree at CQUniversity in 2016 and whilst studying, worked as a legal support officer for the Department of Public Prosecutions. In the first year of her degree, she gave birth to her son, Zion, and married her high school sweetheart Jared.
“They are one of the biggest blessings in my life, but it was also very challenging,” she said.
Lenique says she wouldn’t be where she is now without learning to lean on her extended family for support over the last few years.
“My family is everything. It comes back to that old saying ‘it takes a village’ and that couldn’t ring true enough for me. I am incredibly blessed to have such a big support system around me,” Lenique said.
She is the first in her family to join the legal profession and despite several offers and opportunities to move–including a scholarship to Bond University on the Gold Coast–she chose to stay local.
“I chose to stay in Rockhampton and study at my local university because I am surrounded by family here and it’s important to me to be able to give back to the community that’s raised me,” she says.
Her father, Kai George, is a Torres Strait Islander and Wulli Wulli man and her mother, Gaye Vea Vea, is an Australian South Sea Islander.
“I’ve been taught to respect everyone, regardless of their title or background. That’s what drew me to the legal profession, being able to show empathy, make change and help other people.”
Lenique hopes her achievements will motivate other Indigenous, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander people to be brave and keep striving to achieve their dreams no matter what.
“I want to show other kids like me that you deserve to be in positions in Parliament, business and legal industries.’
“Nothing is out of your reach, take it one day at a time and you will get there.”
Keen to pursue a career in policy reform legislation and in Parliament, Lenique says she hopes to be shine a light on the First Nations perspective when it comes to law reform.
“I really would like to bring more of an indigenous voice into consideration when we’re bringing about legislation and when we’re changing existing legislation,” she said.
“I’ve seen a lot of Indigenous people go through the court system – something that can be confronting and unfamiliar to them. I am proud to be able to bridge that gap and help Indigenous people navigate through the justice system.”
After a huge year of success, she has one more important event to look forward to…
“I can’t wait to all get together for our big family Christmas with all our aunties, uncles and cousins this year!”