Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 3 2016 Contents 39
Issue 3 2016 Defence
38 Defence Issue 3 2016
The Head of Defence Legal,
Mark Cunliffe, Indigenous
graduate Taryn Oxenburgh
and her supervisor, Karena
Pendergast. Taryn is
holding her certificate of
enrolment to the Supreme
Court of the ACT.
ARYN Oxenburgh has taken some
risks and reaped the rewards in her
career. She is a young Indigenous
woman working for Defence
Legal who recently completed an
Indigenous entry program, graduated university
with honours and was also admitted to the
Supreme Court of the ACT.
Being admitted into the court means Taryn
has been formally accepted into the legal pro-
fession and is now a practising lawyer. She
studied at James Cook University from 2012-
2016 where she completed a Bachelor of Laws
“Graduating university felt empowering
but it also made me realise how much more I
had to learn about the law in practice, rather
than theory. It encouraged me to explore career
options and further study – I am planning to do
my masters in 2017,” Taryn says.
“I’ve always been interested in law and
wanted to do something that could benefit the
community. Growing up I was saddened by
how many Indigenous Australians were incar-
She was lucky enough to secure a position
in the Indigenous Program, which was her
entry pathway into a position in Defence Legal.
Taryn is of Ngarigo descent and grew up in
Wangkathaa country in Western Australia.
“The best part about working for Defence
Legal is all the support from both APS and
ADF members. I truly feel part of the team,
even when I was on a four-week placement.”
Her role in Defence Legal ensures that
Taryn’s days are constantly busy with meetings,
the drafting of wills for ADF members, coordi-
nating legal assistance and legal policy.
In her spare time Taryn plays touch foot-
ball, undertakes extra study and participates in
networking activities and social work events.
Taryn took a leap of faith by moving away
from her family, and choosing to invest in her
“The hardest part about moving away from
family is the homesickness. Luckily there are
many others in my position so they take the
time show me around Canberra and keep it
Taryn grew up in a close family; she was the
third of 10 children and cared for her younger
siblings. Her strong sense of family has been a
driving force in her career progression.
“As a role model for my younger siblings I
have always been conscious of my career deci-
sions and the law profession/cadetship is one
that I would encourage my siblings to do.”
Along with her strong family values, Taryn
believes in giving back to the community,
which is what inspired her to become a lawyer.
At 19, Taryn became an Indigenous tutor for
children in care.
“I’ve always had a strong sense of commu-
nity and, after recently moving to Canberra, I
am trying to build the same networks here,” she
Finding that same sense of community
in her workplace made it easy for Taryn to
become passionate about her role.
“I’ve built many mentor relationships, which
helped when I had to take challenging steps
such as writing my honours thesis or organising
in-house cultural events,” she says.
Her supervisor, Karena Pendergast, says she
tried to make Taryn feel welcome and valued
from the beginning.
“I put myself in her shoes and let her know
all the things she needed to know,” Karena says.
Supervising didn’t finish at the end of the
working day as Karena ensured Taryn knew she
could turn to her for help and guidance.
The Head of Defence Legal, Mark Cunliffe,
honours Taryn’s decision to chase her dream
in the legal profession, and acknowledges the
importance of country and what it means to
be connected to that country for Indigenous
“Country is so much more important for an
Aboriginal person, and to come so far away
from your country is in itself a challenge,” Mark
Both Mark and Karena have welcomed Taryn
with open arms and have proudly witnessed her
go from strength to strength. She has seized her
position in Defence and made the most of any
opportunity that arises.
Taryn attributes her ability to develop
meaningful connections to attending network-
ing events hosted by the Department and the
Defence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
“DATSIN has been very helpful and it is
good to see an active network within Defence.
When I attend networking events I realise you
of my comfort zone and chat to everyone.”
Taryn explains why the Indigenous Cadetship
Program is so important to the Indigenous com-
munity and credits her professional success to
the opportunities that Defence has provided her,
and the entry pathways available.
“The pathways give Indigenous Australians
access to career pathways. They also build a
relationship between the Commonwealth and
the community,” she says.
Taryn aspires to have a long and successful
career as a lawyer and be in a position to give
back to the community she values so greatly,
and is looking forward to a bright future in
A graduate working for Defence Legal hopes to inspire
Indigenous youth to pursue entry pathways like she did
“ THE BEST PART ABOUT
WORKING FOR DEFENCE
LEGAL IS ALL THE SUPPORT
FROM BOTH APS AND ADF
MEMBERS. I TRULY FEEL PART
OF THE TEAM.”
Links Archive Issue 2 2016 Issue 1, 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page