You might have seen her on primetime TV earlier this year, travelling around the country and participating in various challenges as part of 'The Amazing Race Australia'. However, away from the cameras, the life journey of The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law alumna Tina Kuek (MAAPD ’15, GCertLaw ‘18) has been similarly amazing, too.
Born in South Sudan, civil war forced her family to flee to Nigeria and Kenya, before finally settling in Australia.
Currently working in Victoria’s public service, she has never forgotten her roots and is driven to use her experience to help others. She started her career assisting refugees and has since founded Kazi Victoria, a not-for-profit that is aimed at serving the migrant and refugee community by providing assistance in entering the job market.
In this Q&A, Tina tells us about her professional journey thus far, and the impact her time at ANU has had on it. She also reveals her motivation for studying the Graduate Certificate of Law and how it has enriched her career prospects.
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself, including your current role?
I am originally from South Sudan and my family lived in Nigeria and Kenya before settling in Australia when I was nine years old.
I’m currently a Senior Policy Officer at the Department of Justice and Community Safety in Victoria. Previously, I was a Senior Protection Assistant at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I started my career as a Humanitarian Caseworker assisting newly arrived refugees to settle in Australia.
2) You completed your Master of Arts at ANU, and then after a short break, you decided to pursue a Graduate Certificate of Law. What factors influenced this decision?
I applied for the Graduate Certificate of Law shortly after starting my role at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The subjects I was studying were very relevant to my work, especially the international refugee law course. The Graduate Certificate continues to assist me in my current role in state government and I hope to build on it and continue with a Master of Laws in the future.
3) Over the past few years, you’ve worked in the public service and founded Kazi Victoria, which helps people navigate the job market. Can you tell us more about your experience, including how your time at ANU shaped your career outlook?
Many migrant job seekers have talents that are overlooked or under-utilised due to barriers around the job market. These include a lack of local experiences, professional networks, and qualifications earned outside of Australia not being recognised. Kazi Victoria provides free, targeted training designed to provide a better understanding of the expectations of Australian employers in the recruitment process.
While pursuing my Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development at ANU I was able to engage in fieldwork, which focused on designing and implementing a sustainable program in rural Indonesia. These practical approach to studies were important in building not only skills but the confidence for me to start my own non-profit.
4) What advice would you give students who are trying to balance their work and/or personal life with the challenging requirements of a postgraduate degree? How do you think they can stand out and make a difference?
I think it’s a good idea to set clear goals and a plan on how you intend to achieve them. Perfecting your time management skills is probably one of the most important aspects of postgraduate study. It’s also important to trust the process, even when it doesn’t seem to be going as planned. I’ve gone through a lot of changes over the years and learned from each experience.
Discover how you can start your Graduate Certificate of Law studies at ANU.