NSW Bar Association Katrina Dawson Award
As announced by The NSW Bar Association this week, Rachel Thampapillai is the recipient of the Katrina Dawson Award for May 2023.
Rachel was admitted as a solicitor in 2016, having graduated from the Australian National University in 2014 with degrees in Arts and Law, as well as completing a Master of Laws at University of California Berkeley in 2017 on a merit scholarship with an additional certificate in International Law, Public Interest and Social Justice. Her thesis on Indigenous overrepresentation in juvenile detention in Australia and the United States was published in the American Indian Law Journal in 2018.
Rachel has practiced as a solicitor at the Aboriginal Legal Service since 2020 and most recently, within the Children’s Court as the Youth Koori Court Solicitor. She has extensive experience in Criminal Law where she has been an advocate across various Children’s, Local and District Courts and has contributed significantly to sentencing outcomes and appeals. Rachel has passionately advocated for young Indigenous people to facilitate rehabilitative outcomes which has successfully seen the reduction in rates of incarceration.
Rachel’s achievements are not limited to the court room, as she has served as the Women’s Officer of the Australian National University Debating Society and as Secretary and member of the Executive of the Resident’s Association at John XXIII College. She has also volunteered at the Australian Migrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance Conference.
Rachel is the daughter of Sri Lankan Tamil parents who fled the Sri Lankan Civil War in 1983 to come to Australia on humanitarian grounds. Recently, Rachel gave birth of her son in March 2023. Seeing the sacrifices and experiences of her family and becoming a mother, combined with her extraordinary academic achievements, she believes this has shaped her activism to paying forward to the wider community through service, leadership and advocacy."