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Work experience helps Alana’s justice career

TAFE Queensland legal and justice studies students are undertaking work experience with the Justices of the Peace Branch (JPB), getting vital insights into the real-world application of their study topics.

The JPB is a division of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) whose vision is to deliver ‘Justice for all’ through safe, fair, and responsible communities. 

After transitioning to electronic processing in 2019, the JPB embarked on a significant file disposal and destruction project as it digitises decades of historic hard copy applications for Justice of the Peace and Commissioner for Declarations.

The project has seen some of the students in the Diploma of Justice Studies (10972NAT) embedded in the branch’s offices three days per week for six months, working on the project while learning how the JPB supports the state’s communities and legal services.

One of the students, Alana Liu, relishes seeing the practical side of a government department as they kick off her career in justice.

“After a positive experience with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), I decided I wanted to work within the justice sector,” said Alana.

“When I looked up courses online, I discovered I could study this diploma at TAFE Queensland using Fee-Free Funding, which made my decision to study easier – so I applied.”

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 to 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.

Changing careers was also more accessible thanks to Alana’s supportive, knowledgeable and industry-experienced teachers.

“My teachers have over 20 years of experience as professionals in the industry; they give us excellent guidance and teach us about different law cases. Having completed a master's degree at University, I’ve found my TAFE teachers much more helpful and supportive,” she said.

With her confidence building, Alana applied for the Justices of the Peace Branch role and was accepted - giving her a start in the industry.

Each day, Alana ensures every file is managed strictly with the Queensland State Archive authorisation, including reviewing and uploading paper files to a digital drive and correlating and confirming information in the Justices of the Peace database.

“My job is checking all the physical files from decades ago and checking the information we need, scanning and auditing them, and saving them in the system before destroying the physical file.”

She is confident and determined to start her new career in the justice system, buoyed by her teachers and work experience.

“The course, my teachers and the work experience I’m getting have all given me the foundation and confidence to launch my career,” she said.

“I’m getting great insights into the inner workings of a government department, and after I graduate, I hope to work in the Queensland courts as a court officer.”

The work experience is helping bridge the gap between the classroom and the workforce and is an extension of TAFE Queensland's positive relationship with Queensland’s legal and justice industry.

“TAFE Queensland has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, which has evolved over many years,” said Anastasia Spiers, Educational Team Leader, TAFE Queensland.

“This partnership already sees the Department providing guest speakers to broaden student knowledge around public sector ethics and attending industry days, which serve as a vital platform for fostering connections between students, staff, and key stakeholders in the legal sector.”

While the students working with the Justices of the Peace Branch are completing vital administrative tasks, being immersed in a real legal environment prepares them to join the workforce.

“Stepping into an office to work with new people in the legal industry for the first time can be challenging; the students’ positive attitudes, diligence and professionalism shine through,” concluded Anastasia.