by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Click here to view past issues
Campus News : CONNECT:UOW July 2012
JULY 2012 CONNECT :UOW 9 CONNECT: ALUMNI CLAIRE TOEPFER Bachelor of Arts Bachelor of Laws Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice 2005 Claire Toepfer developed a strong interest in social justice for Indigenous Australians when she was studying for her Arts/Law degree at the University of Wollongong. Now she is part of a national team that is working to convince Australians of the importance of constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the lead-up to a referendum that will be included in the next federal election. The referendum will ask Australians to vote on enshrining in the Australian Constitution recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their status as the continent's original inhabitants, and preserving the federal government's ability to pass laws for their benefit, while also prohibiting racial discrimination. Claire is Relationships Manager -- Constitutional Recognition at Reconciliation Australia, the organisation that has been given the task of leading the national campaign for educating and engaging Australians on the issue of constitutional recognition so that they can cast an informed vote in the referendum. Her role involves active involvement with government and non-government organisations, corporations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider Australian community. "The role includes anything and everything from communications, media and marketing to event management, public speaking, briefings and understanding the legalities of the recommended changes to the Constitution," Claire said. "So my Arts and legal training have helped no end." Claire grew up in Wollongong, attended Wollongong High School and then moved on to UOW. "Throughout my degree, I began building an interest in social justice and then more specifically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I based a few of my assessments about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, restorative justice, and then further explored this path by completing a legal placement at the Darwin Community Legal Centre. " Claire started her career as a graduate with the federal Department of Transport and Regional Services in the Indigenous Policy Unit. "It was a great big leap in the right direction, and I found myself travelling to the East Kimberley a few times with a great boss and getting to know and understand some of the amazing cultures out there, as well as the difficulties many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face," she said. After two years in the role Claire then spent two years overseas, including a stint at Britain's Ministry of Justice where she worked in the Elections and Democracy department. She then returned to Australia to a role with the Australian Electoral Commission, before moving across to Reconciliation Australia as a corporate advisor. She took up her current role in 2010 when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced plans for the referendum. "After studying law, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and working in elections and democracy, I found myself in a role that draws on all three," she said. Claire believes there are two key points to the referendum. "Firstly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not recognised, nor even mentioned in our Constitution. Can you believe it? The first peoples of Australia aren't acknowledged within our founding document," she said. "Secondly, there are clauses within the Australian Constitution that permit discrimination on the basis of race. This doesn't just affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but all Australians with a different cultural background. My thoughts on this are simply that it's out- dated, it's not right and it's not something that Australians would be proud of if they were aware of it." To find out more about constitutional recognition, visit: www.youmeunity.org.au NH DR JESSICA HUGHES Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) 2006 PhD (Chemistry) 2011 Graduate School of Medicine neurosciences lecturer Dr Jessica Hughes took time out to inspire the next generation of students at the Illawarra Youth Achievement Awards dinner at Wests Illawarra Leagues Club in May. Jessica, who was a recipient of a Tertiary Education scholarship from Wests Illawarra in the 2003 Youth Achievement Awards, was one of the guest speakers at this year's event. Speaking to an audience of award nominees and their families, Jessica spoke about her journey through UOW, completing an Honours degree in Medical Science and a PhD through the School of Chemistry before working at the GSM. She told them how winning the scholarship in her first year at University had helped set her up for success in the first years of her undergraduate degree. Jessica urged the teenage nominees to be flexible and open to new opportunities in study, in their careers and in their lives. "I want to encourage you to continue learning," she told them. "Never give up on the pursuit of knowledge. "Learn from others (and) listen twice as much as you speak. We do, after all, have two ears and only one mouth. I love the way that even though I'm meant to be the 'teacher', my students teach me just as much with each interaction." NH Dr Jessica Hughes speaking at the Illawarra Youth Achievement Awards at Wests Illawarra in May. JESSICA'S JOURNEY Claire Toepfer at a Reconciliation Australia stand at a recent trade show. Photo: Wayne Quilliam Photography. CLAIRE HAS CONSTITUTION FOR CHANGE