How Law Changed My Life

ON THE RIGHT PATH: Micah Roe now studies law at JCU

After a rough start in life, Micah Roe is on the path to change the face of Australia’s law system and better the lives of Indigenous youth.

By Laura McKee

Some people say life is a journey, some say it’s a learning curve. But for Micah Roe, it’s been a battle to find himself.

Micah was living a life he dreaded when he was young, one that was carved out by his family who pushed him into competitive swimming.

“I was always forced to swim – nothing else mattered, so I had this idea that I was going to be a professional sportsperson,” he said.

“I hated it, it’s a lonely sport.”

Micah was admitted into rehabilitation from drug use and depression at the age of 20, as his idea of a future wasn’t the same as his mother’s.

“I thought I had failed my family in a lot of things,” he said.

“Throughout high school I was delving in drugs. They were an escape.

“I just didn’t know what I wanted.”

But he has since put these issues behind him.

ON THE RIGHT PATH: Micah Roe now studies law at JCU

Now at age 25 and in his second year of studying, Micah is on track to attaining a law degree at James Cook University after he was granted a cadetship by a Brisbane law firm.

Gadens Lawyers, the only firm he applied at is sponsoring Micah in his degree.

Micah travels to Brisbane to work during the holidays at the firm’s expense, and said he was blessed at having opportunity to connect with experienced solicitors.

“It’s given me a head start with some things. It is great in the fact that I get to apply the skills I learn in class to practical situations,” he said.

“Some of the people I have connected with are going to be invaluable to me.”

Growing up, Micah didn’t have a white picket fence childhood – he came from a poor, single parent home in a small town in the Burdekin.

Education wasn’t a priority in Micah’s family, but sport was.

His mother pressured him into swimming and he excelled, making the Queensland and Australian teams throughout primary and high school. It was his “ticket to success”.

“(School) wasn’t a channel for me, my ticket out of where I’d come from was sport. So that’s the way things were,” he said.

“You only put into kids what you think is best for them and she (mum) thought what was best for me was to go down the avenue of sports so she didn’t sew too much education into me. It was secondary.”

Micah quit swimming when he graduated, had no skills or education behind him and was unhappy with his OP of 18.

“Coming out of school I didn’t really have anyone around me. It all came crashing down when I realised it’s not that easy,” he said.

Micah worked full time for the next seven years in construction, aviation and mining among other jobs just to make money and fill in the time.

Back to heritage

It was when he embarked on a hitch-hiking mission in the middle of Australia to rekindle his Aboriginal culture, Micah realised.

“I saw the injustice of the lack of government care for the communities out there. It just dawned on me how unjust the system is in terms of providing health and education services,” he said.

“That opened my eyes. All roads led to studying law and it was more of a heartfelt decision,” he said.

Micah hopes to be involved in Indigenous politics and human rights when he graduates, but a minister of the Gospel of Grace is his dream profession.

“I will always be an advocate for young people doing law. For me it’s done so many things, given me so much confidence in my ability to think, interpret, stand up and argue an opinion I support,” he said.

“I think it’s a really good time for Indigenous kids to get into law for the changes that are coming for the future,” he said.

In five years, Micah sees himself married with children and using his degree to create change for the Indigenous population.

“A central driving point behind why I am doing the law degree is to see Indigenous people progress in terms of positive contribution to the community,” he said.

Micah said he is thankful for the cadetship and loves university, but there’s just one problem.

“The material isn’t hard. What I find hard is just sitting down and doing work. I’m not a still person,” he said.