First Nations trailblazer gives back to uni

Pro bono lawyer Nareeta Davis values the education she received at CQUniversity and sees joining the council as a way to give back.
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Cairns pro-bono solicitor and mum Nareeta Davis joins CQU Council just seven years after graduating from CQU’s Bachelor of Laws.

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.

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“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 says.

“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.

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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.

Championing inclusion and equitable education

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 from Monday 1 July, and he welcomed her enthusiasm for the role.

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“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.”

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