The fight for West Papua
In the meantime, Adi had been gaining valuable experience as a volunteer for Amnesty International, for a cause she has become incredibly passionate about: freedom for West Papua.
“I was scrolling through Facebook one day and I came across an article on West Papua,” Adi says. “I was horrified that I didn’t know anything about it because it is right in our backyard.
“So I signed up with Amnesty International and became a volunteer, supporting West Papua and the other causes Amnesty was advocating. I got involved, I started organising events and contacting people. The people running the events were largely older activists, and I think they were happy to have someone younger come in and be involved.
“But I realised that if I really want to make a difference, I need more background behind me. That’s why I decided to study law, because I am so passionate, but advocating for people’s rights alone wasn’t going to hold much weight without having a law degree.”
West Papua is a province on the island of New Guinea, bordering Papua New Guinea. The campaign aims to bring freedom and independence to the citizens of the province, out from under the control of Indonesia, which currently enforces rule of law on the island and its people. The people of the Free West Papua movement have been fighting for independence for more than five decades.
It is a campaign that has truly resonated with Adi, who wants to eventually use her law degree to make an impact for the people of West Papua. For inspiration, Adi looks to renowned human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, who has advocated for the people of West Papua and their exiled independence leader Benny Wanda.
“I’m really passionate about West Papua because I’m also from the South Pacific, so it is a region I know and love,” she says.
Adi has become known around the South Western Sydney campus for her friendly demeanour and care for others. She works for student services and is president of CultureSpeaks@UOWSWS, a club devoted to cultural diversity and social advocacy. But back home in Fiji, Adi’s parents never imagined their daughter would become a lawyer. Rather, they wanted her to enter medicine.
“My parents wanted me to be a doctor because in Fiji, being a doctor is a big thing. Everyone wants their kid to be a doctor,” Adi says. “That was drilled into my brain. But I started studying medicine, and I struggled and I failed, and I struggled and I failed. That was my studies in Fiji, so when I came to Australia, I thought, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do’.”