Ryan Zahrai
Bachelor of Law student

During his PACE activity in Malaysian Borneo, law student Ryan Zahrai not only sharpened his legal research skills but gained an insight into the challenges people face on a daily basis, and the power of collaboration to help them overcome these challenges.

Ryan chose an international PACE activity as he was keen to apply his research skills in an unfamiliar legal setting. "It was a brilliant way to expand my understanding of legal issues affecting Indigenous populations overseas, to be challenged and to learn in a new and stimulating environment."

While in Borneo, Ryan assisted PACOS Trust, a local non-government organisation that advocates for the protection of native customary land rights of Indigenous Malaysians. "The majority of Indigenous communities are unaware of the legal protections that are available to safeguard their land from interference from corporations and the government, and as a result, have lost their land in the palm oil trade," he explains.

After consulting with PACOS staff, Ryanand fellow law student Jalal Ahmad Razi recognised that there was a need for an accessible, readily available education resource for Indigenous communities. As a direct result they developed an instructional DVD to provide information on how Indigenous communities can protect their rights to native-title land.

"Working with renowned barristers, the Human Rights Commissioner for Malaysia, and other NGO representatives dedicated to Indigenous land rights was exciting and stimulating, while living in the local village was refreshingly different and breathtakingly beautiful."

"The placement was a timely reminder of the reasons I wanted to pursue a career in law, and was one of the major highlights of my time at Macquarie. It was a truly humbling experience, and I made some strong professional relationships. I've found that my career aspirations have become more balanced, and my PACE experience continues to be one that shapes my future goals."