QUT Alumnus Candice Hughes is a Youth Justice Solicitor at YFS Legal advocating for the protection of young people’s human rights and empowering vulnerable peoples involved in the criminal justice system, particularly First Nations people.
Candice is a proud Kamilaroi woman, mother of five and wife. Graduating from a Bachelor of Arts (Justice Studies) at QUT in 1996 Candice went on to complete a Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) in 2017. Volunteering and working in the community legal sector for the past seven years, she currently works at YFS Legal, a community legal centre in Logan.
“I am privileged to be a lawyer, and for me, this comes with a responsibility to advocate for human rights and fight against the injustices committed against all vulnerable people, but particularly our First Nations people.”
As a youth justice solicitor, her day-to-day involves providing information, advice and representation for clients between the ages of 10-25 who need assistance with criminal law matters. Alongside her job, Candice supervises First Nations community legal education projects which allows Candice to create work experience opportunities for Indigenous LLB students. She is also a representative on multiple committees including Legal Aid Queensland First Nations Advisory Committee, Community Legal Centres Queensland Management Committee, Queensland Human Rights Commission Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group, and Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland.
When asked what personal and professional achievement she is most proud of, Candice said, “Personally, I’m most proud of obtaining my law degree as a mature age student and studying externally whilst balancing family responsibilities of five young children, working fulltime, and community responsibilities.”
Candice is passionate about social justice, access to justice, and advocating and supporting First Nations peoples. “Every day I am reminded about the overrepresentation of our First Nations people in the criminal justice system. I am also passionate about increasing the opportunities and support given to our First Nations peoples in the legal profession and those wanting to enter it”.
Candice’s passion for community legal centres started whilst completing a Legal Placement elective unit at Caxton Legal Centre. Candice advises students to, “Take advantage of volunteering opportunities and networking opportunities. Surround yourself with others who share similar values and provide you with a source of strength and inspiration”.
Reflecting on this year’s theme for NAIDOC week, Always was, Always will be Candice says, “It is important to remember our nation’s true history. Our history, tradition, culture is over 60,000 years old. Our people have maintained a spiritual and cultural connection to the land and waters. We always have been, and always will be, the traditional custodians of this land.”
NAIDOC Week 2020 acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact. NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations.
It is about seeing, hearing and learning the First Nations’ 65,000+ year history of this country - which is Australian history. We want all Australians to celebrate that we have the oldest continuing cultures on the planet and to recognise that our sovereignty was never ceded.
Always Was, Always Will Be.