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Aboriginal lawyer takes trailblazing quest to Oxford

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A Curtin Law School graduate will work to further protect Aboriginal cultural heritage in mining decisions after being awarded a prestigious scholarship to study at Oxford University.

Emma Garlett, a Nyiyaparli-Yamatji-Nyungar woman from Geraldton, is this year’s Wesfarmers John Monash Scholar, which is Australia’s most prestigious postgraduate overseas study program.

Ms Garlett, aged 27, will study a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Civil Laws at the University of Oxford with a focus on integrating the rights of Traditional Owners in mining strategy decisions that affect the land, water and air.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated Ms Garlett on being awarded the scholarship, which is hugely competitive and reserved for outstanding Australian graduates to study at the world’s best universities.

“Emma is blazing a trail that will inspire another generation of First Nations lawyers after becoming the first Aboriginal person to graduate from both the Curtin Law School and the Curtin Business School with a double degree,” Professor Hayne said.

“Her already impressive resume will be further bolstered by this prestigious scholarship and her postgraduate studies at Oxford, and I have no doubt her work will inspire meaningful change in the future.”

Ms Garlett said she was honoured to be awarded the scholarship, adding it would help her “facilitate wide-reaching, deep and meaningful change to help others, advance technology, and position Australia to achieve on an international level”.

“Mining is one of the biggest contributors to Australia’s economy, and due to my location and skills, I am in a position where I can effect change in mining, and then, in government,” Ms Garlett said.

“I want to bring comfort to companies as they make business and strategic changes to operate with a greater social licence by utilising renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint, exploring the use of blockchain technology to improve operations, and including Traditional Owners in the current and future strategic development in mining.

“A Master of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Civil Laws at the University of Oxford will provide me with the academic backing, research experience and international network to propose recommendations to industry and government, which are endorsed and implemented to effect change to do things better, faster, and for the benefit of all Australians.”

Successful applicants for the annual scholarships have demonstrated excellence in their field, leadership potential, and are motivated to contribute to a better Australia.

For more information about the John Monash scholarships, visit here.

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