A few months back I had the pleasure to meet with Marie Shaw QC, a lawyer that has reached the pinnacle of her profession.
What I found most interesting about her story, however, was she is originally a farm girl from Warrachie, near Lock, on the Eyre Peninsula.
This article is not about being a lawyer. It's about the values learnt from a farm upbringing and how that translates into any vocation.
Marie is one of the leading criminal barristers in Adelaide, and has also spent time as a judge in the District Court. I must admit I was a bit in awe of her and her achievements but she is very humble and down to earth.
Marie's story was interesting and inspiring. Warrachie is a small community - only there because of the rail link. The loss of rail on EP is another passionate topic for Marie - another article for another day. Her father was one of 12 children, and things were tough.
Frugality was the order of the day. Her parents, particularly her father valued education, and Marie and her siblings were offered educational opportunities that her parents were denied.
I have heard similar stories from other people in rural SA. The tyranny of distance has historically played a big part in lack of formal education. I know my mother didn't get the education she wanted - it simply wasn't available.
As we know, sporting teams are a big part of country communities, perhaps moreso in places like the EP, where the population is sparse, and sport plays such a large part in life.
Marie and her family have always placed an emphasis on sport and all the good it brings to individuals and communities.
Another pivotal moment for Marie, was going on a student exchange to the United States. The family she lived with immersed her fully within their family structure, and she was cared for and came away with a sense of being unconditionally loved.
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Marie completed her schooling in Adelaide, where she maintained she wasn't a top student, until a teacher who believed in her gave her the confidence to strive for excellence. As a result, she received the top mark in the state in economics.
Marie was accepted into law at the University of Adelaide, and enjoyed the study, while maintaining she wasn't a standout student. When Marie graduated law, it was still a male dominated field.
Again, someone came into Marie's life and gave her an opportunity. This was Frank Moran QC, who was a leading barrister at the time in Adelaide.
In all facets of life, everyone needs someone to give them a start, and this is what Frank did for Marie.
Frank was a fighter against injustice. There is no doubt Marie also has a social conscience. She has a track record of standing up for those that are unable to do this themselves.
Marie also founded charity Ice Factor in 2005 for disengaged youth. In this program young people learn to ice skate across an eight-week period, and actually play a game of ice hockey.
The program increases confidence and the feeling of being part of a team.
The program assists with re-engagement with school, and participants need to be attending school. Ice Factor has had a significant impact on the many young people involved.
There were a few themes that shone through for me - the values of hard work learnt from being brought up on a farm; the value of having people that believe in you; your principles are worth fighting for; and to stay strong and resilient.
I'll wrap up this article with this quote from Marie: "Intelligence and resources aren't everything. Take opportunities, and work hard".
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