Shahleena Musk joined the Human Rights Law Centre team in February 2017, working in the Indigenous Rights Unit. She is an Aboriginal lawyer descended from the Larrakia people of Darwin. She was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from the then Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) and to be admitted to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
Shahleena worked as a Crown Prosecutor for the Director of Public Prosecutions in both the Northern Territory (1998–2001) and Western Australia (2006–7). For over a decade she worked with the Aboriginal Legal Services in WA and the Top End of the NT, including roles as a criminal solicitor, youth lawyer, Practice Manager and Deputy Manager.
In 2013 Shahleena was instrumental in the creation of NAAJA’s youth team and took on the role of the Senior Youth Justice Lawyer, leading a team of three lawyers, an Indigenous Youth Justice Worker and a legal secretary. 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.
Shahleena has been a strategic advocate, informing and addressing the courts, government service providers and other agencies of the underlying causes of the over-representation of Indigenous children in the criminal justice system. As a senior lawyer with NAAJA and a member of their management team, Shahleena provided significant input into broader policy work and represented NAAJA externally in meetings with government and community stakeholders.