Griffith Law School alumnus Joshua Creamer, has received the 2017 National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year award from the outgoing Attorney-General George Brandis.

“I’m very proud of the award because it draws attention to the type of work that I do,” said Joshua.

Joshua is consistently ranked by the prestigious Doyle’s Guide as one of the leading Native Title barristers in Australia and he has been recognised in the 2018 Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific rankings for his work.

The award caps off a remarkable year which also saw Joshua appointed to the Board of Legal Aid Queensland.

Joshua says his time at Griffith Law School still resonates with his career in the legal profession.

“Griffith Law School focuses on law and social justice and when you look at my practice it still informs and reinforces the work I do,” he said.

The award recognises Joshua’s contribution in championing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is sharply demonstrated by his involvement in the landmark and ongoing Palm Island class action lawsuit.

It is one of a few rare plaintiff success stories, with research revealing only 6% of class actions reach a post-trial outcome favourable to plaintiffs.

While Joshua acknowledges the unlikely odds of success and the controversial circumstances in that case, he says the time spent with the Palm Island community galvanised him.

“There’s more to these cases than a commercial case. You build strong relationships over years with the community and see their ups and downs and it takes on a different meaning. You can’t help but be affected by what’s going on,” said Joshua.

The award also brings into focus the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers in the profession. Joshua is one of only eight barristers practicing in Queensland.

“We have a long way to go in law towards closing the gap. In Australia, we only have one sitting judge that is Indigenous and that is frankly a disgrace,” said Joshua.

He advocates a stronger approach, similar to the action taken by past Queensland Governments. During the 1970s the state government was encouraged to employ more women as barristers in order to create a pool of talent that could be appointed as judges.

Joshua would like to see the same approach adopted towards Indigenous barristers.