Meet MLS’s first Senior Indigenous Fellow

By Catriona May

Eddie Cubillo joined Melbourne Law School earlier this year as its first Senior Indigenous Fellow.

Eddie Cubillo, MLS’s first Senior Indigenous Fellow
Senior Indigenous Fellow Eddie Cubillo. Image supplied.

A Larrakia, Wadjigan and Central Arrernte man from the Northern Territory, Cubillo has devoted his career to advocating for Indigenous Australians. In 2015 he was named National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year.

Cubillo has strong family links in both urban and rural parts of the Northern Territory, and his family has experienced the intergenerational effects of the ‘Stolen Generations’, which he describes as “an ongoing hurt.”

“I am passionate about making change for my children and grandchildren and reversing statistical outcomes for Aboriginal Australians, who are still more likely to end up in juvenile detention than university,” he says.

He is admitted as a legal practitioner of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and started his career as a solicitor for the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission in 2002.

Cubillo has since held a number of prestigious legal and social justice roles, serving as Anti-Discrimination Commissioner of the Northern Territory from 2010–2012, a challenging role that included responding to the effects of the Northern Territory Intervention. He went on to become Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) from 2012–2016, which he describes as particularly satisfying.

In 2016 and 2017 Cubillo served as Director of Engagement for the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory.

“That role placed a lot of strain on me and my family,” he says. “Balancing my mob’s expectations with the realities of government work weighed heavily, and still does.”

Cubillo is working with students and staff at MLS on cultural safety, Indigenous student recruitment and curriculum development in the Juris Doctor, as well as developing activities focused on constitutional and justice sector challenges for First Nations people.

In addition to his role at the University of Melbourne, Cubillo is also completing a PhD at the University of Technology Sydney. He holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Northern Territory University and a Master of Laws (International Law and International Relations) from Flinders University.

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 21, June 2019