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Philla pivots her legal career to Australia

When an accident permanently changed Philla Guan’s life, she found her true calling as a lawyer. 

“After a train accident caused a permanent disability, and the legal aid lawyer who was assigned to help me inspired me, I decided to become a lawyer,” explained Philla.

“I love how the legal system helps and protects people, and I can bring about positive change for others by providing professional advice in my role as a Court Support Officer”.

When she arrived in Australia from China, Philla came to TAFE Queensland to turn her passion for law into a legal career in her new home country.

“During my Certificate II in Community Services (CHC22015), my teacher introduced me to different courses for further study. Justice studies piqued my interest because of my legal experience, so I researched and applied online,” explained Philla.

Studying both the Certificate IV in Justice Studies (10971NAT) and the Diploma of Justice Studies (10972NAT), Philla began training for an Australian legal career to continue working in an industry she is passionate about.

“I enjoyed being a lawyer in China and want to continue here in Australia. After researching the diploma of justice, I knew it was the pathway to continuing my legal career here,” she said.

She was also awarded a TAFE Queensland Access and Equity Scholarship, given to students like Philla with a genuine interest and commitment to their chosen career and identify as people with disability and long-term medical conditions.

Helping to activate her career, the diploma gave Philla the understanding, skills, and knowledge of legislation and legal frameworks, social justice, crime, and corrections required to work in Australia’s justice sector.

“The course is very practical and flexible, with teachers Luke Robson and Anastasia Spiers providing a lot of important information related to the course and future jobs and being very supportive.”

“They were helpful, answered questions, organised guest speakers and connected us to the justice industry on career day,” she explained.

Also, helping Philla become a lawyer in Australia is Fee-Free TAFE funding, which meant she could study to embark on her new career at zero cost.

Fee-Free TAFE Funding is part of the Queensland Government's Good People. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–2032. It aims to connect, educate, and attract the people needed to meet the state's workforce demand in existing and new industry sectors and support continued economic growth.

With approximately 37,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education and training places available in 2024, the program will support Queenslanders to skill up to meet the state's current and future workforce needs by enabling them to complete selected qualifications at no or low cost.

“Fee-Free provided me with financial relief, especially since I wasn’t working and had a 3-year-old son. Without the Fee-Free Funding, I would not have been able to study,” she said.

The combination of kind and knowledgeable teachers, like-minded and determined classmates and TAFE Queensland’s industry connections has given Philla confidence to become a lawyer or a prosecutor in Australia.

An example of TAFE Queensland’s industry connections is its long-standing relationships with Queensland Courts, Queensland Police Service, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Corrective Services, Justice of the Peace Branch, and Youth Justice, who attend annual Industry Events.

The Industry Day sees students and staff provided with invaluable insights into the operations of these agencies, as well as guidance on the qualities and skills they seek in prospective employees.

Attendees are also equipped with essential information on the application process for employment opportunities within these organisations, with the Queensland Courts successfully recruiting Philla and seven other graduates.

“These partnerships already see guest speakers broadening student knowledge around public sector ethics and attending industry days, which foster vital connections between students, staff, and the legal sector,” said Anastasia Spiers, Educational Team Leader, TAFE Queensland.

“Philla’s job outcome underscores the benefit of academic and industry collaboration and highlights how well prepared our students are to begin successful careers.”

Now working as an administrative officer with the Queensland Courts in Brisbane, Philla uses her skills to prepare documents and support the registrars each day.

“I’ve learnt so much about the many different areas of law throughout my studies, and I’m very confident with the Australian legal and justice system and the practical skills required to work here,” she continues.

“One day, I hope to study for a bachelor's degree in law or transfer my Chinese lawyer license to work as an Australian lawyer,” concluded Philla.