Teela Reid joined NSW Legal Aid, her first job as a solicitor, in March. Previously, she was tipstaff to Justice Lucy McCallum of the Supreme Court of NSW. Before that she was a high school sports teacher. i Her identity and ambition have been nurtured by two strong and supportive networks: her extended Aboriginal family and the NSW legal community.
Teela Reid was born in Dubbo and grew up in Gilgandra, a small town about six hours drive north-west of Sydney. “My mum raised me essentially as a single parent, although my dad was in my life,” she says between mouthfuls during a quick lunch before she returns to court.
“I look back and I feel I had a great childhood. I didn’t grow up with any major issues. But my world was very narrow. I didn’t really know what was outside the community.”
Reid’s father is NSW Aboriginal Land Council chairman Roy Ah-See, a Wiradjuri man born and raised on Nanima Mission, near Wellington. Recently, Reid and her father were active in the work of the Referendum Council, which was set up to advise the Commonwealth Government on steps towards recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution. Reid spoke at the Sydney forum, one of several that took place across the country.
“This is where both of our worlds have come together, in my knowledge of the law and his of the land, and sharing what we know with our mob. That was a really, really great feeling,” she says with a broad grin. “We are both passionate about our people, self-determination and the capacity to have control over our destinies.”