Griffith Law School alumnus Terrence Stedman was awarded twice at the 2018 Queensland Law Society Profession Awards, taking out the Community Legal Centre Member of the Year and the Equity Advocate Award for his service to the community.
One of Terry’s most remarkable achievements during his decade long career at Southwest Brisbane Community Legal Centre, is the successful introduction of a duty lawyer service for child protection matters — the first of its kind in Queensland.
Terry says it was one of the biggest anomalies he could see in the system when he started.
“Families were turning up to court, after their children had been grabbed, not knowing what’s happening in the system and they’d go into meltdown because Department of Child Safety wanted to put their children into care until they were 18,” says Terry.
“We approached the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and proposed the service.”
The duty lawyer service ran for five years at Beenleigh before it was replicated by Legal Aid throughout Queensland.
Before entering the community legal sector Terry worked as an Associate Lecturer at Griffith University, teaching law to undergraduates. However, a desire to give back directly to the community and to practice law lead him to a career change.
Terry’s career move fulfilled a promise he had made when he received the prestigious Law Council of Australia’s John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship, in his final year of study at the Griffith Law School, before becoming an Assoicate Lecturer.
A descendant of the Kamilaroi people, Terry says he noticed the struggles of people in his community from a young age.
“Growing up in Inala, I saw the effect of forced removal on people from their clan groups and some were quite lost. My father had a great belief that people deserve a fair go and should be treated properly and it stuck with me,” says Terrence.
Terrence says studying at the Griffith Law School helped him to better understand the power the law had in shaping people’s lives.
“I wasn’t thinking of a law degree initially, but when I did eventually start studying at Griffith they encouraged students to focus their studies on social justice issues which suited me,” he says.
Terrence is now taking a well-deserved sabbatical as he considers his next move, but recently told the Beaudesert Times he wanted to expand the community legal services in the community of Beaudesert. Terry spends a lot of time in Beaudesert where his partner Carolyn has her law firm.