Shahleena is a proud Larrakia woman from Darwin in the Northern Territory. She has worked for over 19 years as a criminal lawyer, in prosecutions or defence in both the Northern Territory and Western Australia including over a decade of service in the Aboriginal Legal Services across both jurisdictions. Over that time she worked as a criminal solicitor, youth lawyer, Practice Manager and Deputy Manager.
In 2013 Shahleena was instrumental in the creation of a specialised youth team in the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and was the Manager and Senior Lawyer of that team for over 5 years. In 2014, under Shahleena’s leadership, NAAJA’s youth justice team was a finalist in the National Children’s Law Awards. In 2015, she was jointly awarded the Fitzgerald Youth Award for her innovative and holistic approaches to working with Aboriginal youth involved in the criminal justice system.
Presently, Shahleena is a Senior Lawyer within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights Unit at the Human Rights Law Centre in Melbourne. Her work is directed at reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly children and young people in the criminal legal system with a strong focus on reforms to unjust laws and policies that contribute to early criminalisation and adverse outcomes.