Staff Profile: Theresa Lake Policy Officer

“Our connection to country and place is important and the importance of Land Rights is evolving.”

My name is Theresa Lake, I am a proud Gamilaroi/Gamilaraay woman.

My grandmother is Juanita (Una) Lake (nee Cain) from Burra Bee Dee Mission and Forky Mountain, outside of Coonabarabran.

The land was originally granted to my Great Great Great Grandmother Mary Jane Cain. My grandfather is William (Billy) Lake, born in Dubbo and his mother was Jessie Hampton.

I was born and raised in Dubbo until the age of 14 when we moved to Campbelltown though I currently live on the Central Coast.

At present I am on secondment with the Policy & Program Unit as a Policy Officer however my substantive position is Secretariat Officer with the Governance Unit.

My job as a Policy Officer involves advising the development of appropriate policies and guidelines that meet NSWALC’s statutory, strategic and operational requirements, preparing reports, submissions and briefing papers for internal and external stakeholders.

I feel policy is an important field that more Aboriginal people need to be actively involved with. Policy is the space between laws which affect our people and the practical implementation within our communities. Decisions are made here. Real change is possible here.

I have been working with the NSWALC since 2008 but became and an active member of my LALC in 2014.

In many communities LALCs are more than just a land council. It’s a place for people to come together, seek support and be linked to other services.

Our connection to country and place is important and the importance of Land Rights is evolving.

When Land Rights were first fought for, it was about asserting our rights and having security for future generations and acknowledging our special connection to Country. The flow on effects from that was also about ensuring our people had access to basic human services like medical and legal services.

The question of why Land Rights continues to remain relevant is something my generation needs to be asking ourselves.

Land Rights for me is about using everything I have learnt, and capitalising on every opportunity afforded to me as a result of the Land Rights fight being won and bringing our people along.

I want my kids to be confident and I hope to achieve this by empowering them through education as well as strengthening them through culture.