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First Nations lawyer, alumnus a first for CQU Council

[by Mary Bolling]




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Cairns pro-bono solicitor and mum Nareeta Davis. Image supplied

Cairns solicitor Nareeta Davis has been named the newest member of CQUniversity’s governing Council – and the Indigenous trailblazer brings a unique perspective to higher education leadership.

CQU Chancellor Graeme Innes AM announced her appointment at the Cairns Graduation event on Thursday 18 April – just seven years after Ms Davis herself crossed the stage, graduating with her Bachelor of Laws in 2017.

Her study journey with CQUniversity began in 2012, then aged 35 and tackling CQU’s Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) pathway program.

“Since those days, coming onto Cairns campus with my little kids, juggling all my books and my job and everything, CQU has become family to me,” she said.

“Starting right at the bottom, and getting through that journey - I’m excited to bring that perspective to Council, the student perspective, as well as my professional perspective.

“You might think joining Council puts me at the top of the University, but I don’t see it like that – we are there to serve the students, and especially those ones who need support to get into uni, and to get through it.”

A descendant of the Purga Mission from Ipswich, with cultural connections to the Kullilli Thargomindah people and the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people, and maternal non-Indigenous Australian heritage, Ms Davis is deeply committed to reconciliation action and representing First Nations people.

In her role as pro bono lawyer and First Nations advisor at Holding Redlich law firm, Ms Davis passionately supports people who are vulnerable or experiencing hardship.

She’s determined to advocate for inclusion and accessibility in her CQUniversity role too.

“My studies changed my life, and I’ve got so much admiration for CQUniversity – so I bring a lot of passion to Council,” she said.

Mr Innes said CQUniversity valued Ms Davis’ contribution to the CQU community as an alumnus and advocate.

She will join CQU Council on Monday, 1 July, and he welcomed her enthusiasm for the role.

“CQUniversity is proud to be Australia’s most accessible and inclusive university, and Nareeta’s inspiring career pathway highlights how regional Australians, and mature-aged students, and people from every background can soar, if they can access an opportunity like our STEPS program,” Mr Innes said.

“Nareeta’s connection to her community, and her passion to empower people around her, makes her a perfect fit for Council.  

“CQU’s vision for reconciliation is for all Australians to work together to address injustice and provide equality of opportunity, and I know Ms Davis’ insight and leadership can help us drive a tertiary education sector that truly embraces the knowledges and strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

In 2021, Ms Davis was named Queensland Law Society's First Nations Solicitor of the Year, and in 2022, she was named CQU Alumnus of the Year for Early Career Achievement.

She said joining CQU Council was a new chance to help people.

"My life journey has always been and continues to be that of supporting those in need, showing kindness and surrounding myself with people who have those same values.  I am a very down to earth and grounded person and I know that this will be welcomed with open arms by CQUniversity as the University has those same values.

“CQUniversity Council is a big job, and it will connect me to thousands of students and to communities across Australia – and to work with them to make the University a better place, and the world a better place, you need to be grounded.” 

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