Wiradjuri man and TAFE Queensland Justice and Legal Studies teacher Luke Robson left a career as a criminal lawyer fifteen years ago to follow his passion for helping others and he hasn’t looked back.
It was Luke’s altruistic nature that brought him to the realisation that teaching law would be more rewarding than practising in the profession he’d worked so hard to qualify for.
“I became a lawyer because I have had a life-long passion for helping other people and even as a kid I could see there were two sides to every story,” said Luke.
“I felt a career in the legal profession was a way in which I could make a real difference,” he continued.
“However, once I started practising as a criminal lawyer I realised the people who were coming to me were already damaged and that my job was less about helping them and more about minimising custodial time."
“It was quite unsatisfying and frustrating.”
In 2005 a position was advertised for a part-time tutor with the then Indigenous Australians Unit at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus.
Luke applied for the part-time role, hoping it might provide him with the satisfaction he felt was missing in his day job as a lawyer.
“The job appealed to me because back in those days, I felt like there was little being done to support and encourage the education of Indigenous people,” Luke said.
“I thought teaching might be a way for me to both give back to my community and to make a difference in people’s lives early on, so I applied and when I was offered the job I jumped at it.”
Luke said his passion for teaching remains strong and he is increasingly driven by a desire to influence how his students see themselves.
“What I love most about teaching these days is witnessing the difference in my students from their first day in class to their last day in class," Luke said.
“Many of my students start their first day at TAFE Queensland unsure about whether they can really do this or if they really belong here.”
“To see the same students six months or a year later graduate with all the confidence in the world and know that on their first day at university or the police force or in another job they won’t doubt in themselves as much— that is an enormously rewarding thing for me.”
For Luke, NAIDOC Week is about recognising the past, acknowledging the present and thinking about where we are going in the future.
“I always pause and reflect during NAIDOC Week and I think it is important to do that and to think particularly about those who have struggled in the past,” Luke said.
“I also like to appreciate just how far we have come in the past 10 years and I love that the future looks bright for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and that there are lots of opportunities for us to be able to reach our full potential.”
“TAFE Queensland has always been a very multicultural learning environment, so I would encourage any fellow indigenous people who are considering a new career, a career change or simply studying an area that interests them, to come visit us."
“We are very culturally diverse, accepting and welcoming and I would love to see more indigenous students or teachers join us.”