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15 June, 2022

A conversation with Teela Reid

Commissioned to be the first contributing editor for the Griffith Review Edition 76, Gilgandra born Teela Reid will be gracing the CWA rooms later this week.

By Emily Middleton

Ms Reid will be discussing this work with the Gilgandra community, among speaking about her life as a lawyer, and her advocacy work for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

This isn’t the first time Ms Reid has written for the journal, with her first essay being published a few years ago titled, ‘2020, the year of Reckoning, not Reconciliation’.

“I dedicated that essay to my grandfather who taught me a lot about Aboriginal Land Rights. The essay was successful, and Griffith Review asked me to be the Contributing Editor to the Edition: ‘Acts of Reckoning’,” said Ms Reid.

The journal is named after Sir Samuel Griffith, who was a founder of Australia, the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and twice Premier of Queensland and once the QLD Attorney- General.

As part of Ms Reid’s recent work, she has been travelling Australia and promoting her recent essay, dedicated to her mother Amanda and cousin Cynthia.

“I commissioned a number of First Nations writers from across Australia, and I wanted to bring the edition back home to launch it with my grandmother Stella and family as they were the inspiration, and it is titled: ‘The Power of the First Nations Matriarchy: Warrior Women reckoning with the colony’,” said Ms Reid.

“I also trace the history of some of the most powerful First Nations women that have inspired my journey and changed the course of history in Australia.”

Bringing her work home to Gilgandra is important to Ms Reid, as she wants to ensure her work is accessible, and show that she is grounded in who she is, and where she came from.

“I am a First Nations woman. There is no point rising to the top of my job in the city if I am not remembering the role my family has played in getting me to where I am, or the community that has shaped so much of the way I approach my job as a lawyer.”

Ms Reid’s grandfather Trevor Reid has had a significant influence on her life, as he was very much interested in the Aboriginal Land Rights movement.

“I’m the eldest granddaughter of his and my nan Stella. I recall walking home from school and pop would always have a campfire going in my nans garden, he would sit there and tells us stories until the sunset,” said Ms Reid.

“Those were some of the most important lessons of my life and I will always cherish that time with my pop.”

Ms Reid was enjoyed her childhood in Gilgandra, and reflected on how sport was a big motivator for her to go to school.

“I think sport is a powerful tool for change, it taught me discipline and commitment to a team or cause and built my competitive character - these are traits that are very much part of my lawyering and advocacy,” said Ms Reid.

“I thank my late mother Amanda and Cynthia who went above an beyond to get me to all my sporting commitments - I feel very lucky and want to honour their legacies in paying it forward to others.”

As a life long friend, TV journalist Narelda Jacobs will be chatting with Ms Reid at the event.

“It’s going to be a great yarn with Narelda, she’s one of my best friends and we have a lot of respect for each other and our respective Indigenous communities.

“It is not lost on us the importance of bringing our mob and the wider community along on the journey in the work we do and creating meaningful conversations at the local level.”

Ms Reid hopes that the community realises that while it is small, issues she has been advocating for on a national level are mighty, and that these issues are meaningful at the grassroots, and really do matter for a little town like Gilgandra.

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