Aboriginal Legal Service marked the successful career of Rayna Pettet, a senior solicitor with Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) in Cowra yesterday.
Ms Pettit is due to leave the service after some 35 years working in the Cowra/Bathurst region.
Gary Oliver, CEO of Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) said Rayna began working with the Legal Service in Sydney during the 1970s.
“She was the only woman at that time, and it was an amazing time in Aboriginal politics with the proliferation of Aboriginalhealth and legal services and Land Rights around the country,” Mr Oliver said.
“She was soon posted from Sydney to the regional office in Cowra, and is now finishing her excellent career with the ALS at our Bathurst office.”
As one of the early staff members who gave so much to ALS, Rayna participated in an oral history project recently, remembering some of her stories of the ALS.
“I love it. I love working for the people I work for. I know people and their families, and what’s going on. I think it’s a great privilege,” Rayna said in her oral history interview.
“We would travel to Lake Cargelligo, Condobolin, Forbes, Parkes, Orange, Bathurst, Katoomba, Lithgow, Cowra, Canberra, Goulburn, Yass – and we covered all the jails in those areas.
“We’d be thinking, where are we goingtomorrow? It was terrific though. We had Canberra with the people that lived there, and the extreme of Lake Cargelligo where they lived on the Mission and they’d been forced to move there. One of the people I used to see over there – she remembered as a child going there in the back of a truck, so it was that recent.
“We did everything in the old days, everything we possibly could. The courts wanted to give people a chance if they could.
“We have the most fantastic office here in Bathurst with staff that really care about the clients and really do the best they possibly can. It’s really good.
“Some of them have been absolutely fantastic field officers who understood the concepts. They might not have studied law but they could pick it. They had a great understanding. When they’re good field officers they are an absolute advantage and they do make the clients feel more comfortable. It’s really good.”
“The ALS is not like anything else. I’ve had other jobs before, as a Judge’s associate and in private practice. It’s not like any other job. It’s not like private practice. It’s not like Legal Aid. It’s a unique place to work,” said Rayna.
“The ALS wishes Rayna the best of luck and sincerely thanks Rayna in recognition of her many years of service assisting Aboriginal people in NSW and ACT,” said Mr Oliver.
An afternoon tea was held for Rayna at Cowra Court House yesterday.
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