A passion for law, made possible

28 Oct 2022

Jonathan Tjandra has always been passionate about justice, owing to his family's escape from ethnic and religious conflict in Indonesia. 

Having already achieved a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Hons I) and a Juris Doctor from The Australian National University (ANU) as a Tuckwell Scholar, Jonathan's pursuit of justice is taking him all the way to Oxford University.  

"My parents gave up everything they had in Indonesia and moved to Perth so that my sister and I could have a better life here in Australia," says Jonathan.

"At the time, there was a lot of racial tension against Chinese-Indonesians, reinforced by a government that passed discriminatory laws.

"The law should be used in a way that promotes democratic values, not as a tool to divided and discriminate in society. I wanted to study law to help ensure that something like that will never happen again, either in Indonesia or Australia."

Jonathan is now a successful lawyer, working as Counsel to the Australian Government Solicitor, and is about to begin a Bachelor of Civil Law at Oxford University. He still remembers when his dreams of becoming a lawyer began morphing into reality - the moment Jonathan found out he was to become a Tuckwell Scholar at ANU.

"[Becoming a Tuckwell Scholar] was one of the defining moments in my life because, all of a sudden, I could afford to go to ANU to study. All these opportunities opened up and I could finally take a few more steps to progress the passion I have for law," he says.

"The Tuckwell Scholarship was a sign that someone actually believed in me, and I could achieve the things I was dreaming of. So it was both reassuring and also very frightening to receive the call that I was successful.

"Then, there is the community of Tuckwell Scholars. Being able to connect with such a motivated, wonderful group of people has forced me to think about the future and take concrete steps to achieve my goals. It has been a completely transformational experience and one that's been very positive

"We keep in touch because we all share a vision - which is trying to make Australia, and the world, a better place to live."

Jonathan's experiences as a Tuckwell Scholar encouraged him to apply for a Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation scholarship, which is funding his studies at Oxford University.

 "Oxford is famous for its legal philosophy - its jurisprudence, as it's called. Some of the greatest legal philosophers and thinkers have come from Oxford and I'm excited to become a part of that long tradition of thinking about law, what it means to be a lawyer and what purpose should the law serve," says Jonathan.

After Oxford, Jonathan hopes to return to Australia to continue working in government and public law; one more step in his mission to ensure government policies uphold the fundamental democratic principles and values that underpin our society.

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