An inspiring journey into the law

An inspiring journey into the law

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Victoria University law student Abdul Bamyani was recently awarded our Outstanding Legal Aid Placement Student Award for his time at our Sunshine office.

His story is an inspiring one, having fled persecution in Afghanistan, and arriving in Australia in 2012.

Legal Aid Brief sat down with Abdul to chat about his eventful journey to Australia and into the law.

Above (L–R): Dean, College of Law and Justice, Victoria University, Michael Stuckey and Outstanding Legal Aid Placement Student Award winner Abdul Bamyani
Above (L–R): Dean, College of Law and Justice, Victoria University, Michael Stuckey and Outstanding Legal Aid Placement Student Award winner Abdul Bamyani

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be studying in Australia

I am originally from Bamyan, a city in central Afghanistan, which was once known for its high standing statues of Buddha which were carved into mountain cliffs in the fifth century. Tragically, these statues were dynamited by the Taliban in March 2001 on the grounds that they were an affront to Islam, even though they had stood for 1200 years.

I came to Australia by boat in 2012 after fleeing horrendous persecution in Afghanistan.

As an Hazara, one of the peaceful ethnic groups in Afghanistan, we were often targeted by the Taliban and ISIS.

I spent more than four months in various offshore and onshore immigration detention centres, and after being granted asylum in Australia, commenced rebuilding my life.

What does winning the ‘Outstanding Legal Aid Placement Student Award’ mean to you?

Winning this award means a lot to me as I know that there are many students from different universities doing their placements at Victoria Legal Aid.

As a placement student in the Sunshine office, my role was simple.

I assisted the duty lawyers in preparing client briefs and transcribing client interviews. Despite being a simple job, this task was vital in enabling lawyers to effectively represent our clients.

Even though I performed a small role in Victoria Legal Aid, staff and management always showed that they cared about my work, and were quick to offer encouragement and advice.

Having come from a background of persecution, I understand what it is like to feel alone and powerless, and this is why I am honoured to have been part of Victoria Legal Aid’s mission to advocate for disadvantaged members of the community.

How will the award help you?

I have always wanted to give something back to this great country I now call home, and be a voice for people who are disadvantaged in the community.

I soon realised that becoming a lawyer could help me realise these goals.

Being a non-native English speaker has created significant challenges for me in terms of understanding and learning the legal system in Australia.

However, I’ve always believed all dreams can be realised with the right amount of determination and application.

This award has proved to me and those close to me that I’m on the right track, and has further empowered me to achieve my goal of becoming a lawyer

What did you enjoy about working at our Sunshine office?

I found working at the Sunshine office of Victoria Legal Aid an invaluable experience, particularly for a student who has an interest in criminal law.

I immediately felt welcome and a part of the team, and it’s a positive environment that encourages respect and fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

While I was continuously learning new skills during work hours, the learning even continued during my lunch breaks via listening to staff’s fascinating and educational stories.

What did you learn after working at our Sunshine office?

Working in the Sunshine office opened my eyes to the criminal justice system in Victoria.

It enabled me to complement the knowledge I have gained in law school with practical legal work.

In addition to the legal skills and knowledge that I have learnt during the course of my placement at the Victoria Legal Aid Sunshine office, I have also gained skills in teamwork, organisation and preparation, vital skills for any good legal practitioner.

What does the future hold for you?

I am studying for my Bachelor of Laws at Victoria University and am scheduled to complete my degree by November 2019.

However, I’m doing extra units during summer and winter breaks, so I expect to finish my degree by June next year.

I won’t be able to practise immediately as I need to complete practical learning training, unless I get a job in a place such as Victoria Legal Aid where I can undertake the training as part of my practical work. I also need to take the oath in the Supreme Court to secure my registration certificate.

Based on these milestones, I’ll be eligible to practise law in early 2020, and start being a voice for good in this great country I now call home.

More information

Read more about Careers at Victoria Legal Aid.

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