Rabia Siddique was born in Perth, Australia in 1971 and spent the first five years of her life in India. She is the eldest child of an Indian Muslim father and an Australian mother. In 1976 her family migrated to Perth where she then grew up, was educated and remained until her mid 20s.
Rabia’s first experiences of social inequality and injustice was at a young age when she witnessed first-hand the difficulties and discrimination faced by migrants in conservative 1970s suburban Australia.
At the age of nine she also experienced abuse for the first time, which quickly robbed her of her childhood and her innocence. These experiences undoubtedly influenced decisions and choices Rabia later made in life.
Rabia obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Western Australia, and started her legal career at Legal Aid WA, where she practised predominantly as a criminal defence lawyer.
She then moved to the Office of Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, where she became one of the youngest federal prosecutors in Australia.
In 1998, Rabia moved to the United Kingdom with the intention of expanding her legal practice to the fields of International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law.
In September 2001, after re-qualifying as Solicitor Advocate of England and Wales and travelling through Eastern Africa, Europe and South America, Rabia was commissioned as a Legal Officer in the British Army, a rather unexpected career choice! Her career in the Army took her to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany, Italy and the Middle East.
She later promoted equality and diversity within the British Armed Forces.
In a terrifying ordeal, whilst deployed to Iraq in 2005, Rabia, along with a male colleague, assisted with the rescue of two Special Forces soldiers from Iraqi insurgents during a hostage situation that garnered worldwide attention.
After the Iraq hostage incident Rabia’s male colleague was awarded a Military Cross for outstanding bravery for his part in the incident, while Rabia’s involvement was covered up by the British Army and Tony Blair’s Government.
In her fight for justice, she brought a landmark race and sex discrimination case against the UK Ministry of Defence.
In 2008, Rabia left the British Armed Forces and went on to become a Crown Advocate in the British Counter Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service, which involved working on some of the most high profile terrorism and hate crime prosecutions, as well as advising on war crimes cases.
This role also took Rabia to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
In the same year, Rabia and her husband welcomed their precious triplet sons into the world.
Parenting triplets was to become Rabia’s biggest and most rewarding challenge yet.
In 2011, Rabia decided to move to back to Australia in order to provide her family with a safe, balanced and healthy lifestyle. So far Australia has not disappointed.
Rabia currently works as Senior Government Legal Counsel, whilst also juggling professional public speaking and facilitating engagements, the publication of her first best-selling book, Equal Justice, guest lecturing and tutoring at the University Western Australia and various television and radio appearances and interviews relating to her story and her work in promoting women in leadership, resilience, principle based leadership, equality and diversity in the workforce and the rights of women, children and ethnic minorities.
Rabia speaks English, French (conversational), Spanish (poorly) and Arabic (worse).
She has run the London marathon for charity, undertaken human rights and community aid work in the Middle East, South America, South East Asia and Australia, was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for her humanitarian work in Iraq in 2006 and was runner up Australian Woman of the Year UK in 2009.
In 2014, Rabia was a finalist in the Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards and was named as one of Australia’s 100 most influential women. In October last year, Rabia received a standing ovation from 1,700 people at her TEDx talk entitled 'Ripples and Waves' where she spoke about the power we all have as individuals to create the change we wish to see in this world. In March 2015, Rabia was nominated for the WA Women Lawyer of the Year Award and the work she has done in the area of equality and diversity was used as a case study at the most recent UN Commission on the Status Women in New York.
Rabia is a member of the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Committee, UN Women Australia, Law Society of Western Australia Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Committee, Australian Institute of Management, Women on Boards Australia and is an Ambassador and Board Member of a number of women and children’s based charities.
Rabia believes passionately that education is the vaccine against violence, ignorance and oppression and has dedicate her life to inspiring and empowering others to find their voice and to embrace their power to create ripples of change in the world around them.
Rabia’s story was inspirational. In the business context we often talk about the importance of composure, keeping the goal in mind and making a difference. To see this brought to life in a real world context where lives are at stake is both humbling and inspirational. It helps put things back into context. But the most inspiring part of her story for me was the way that she demonstrated the importance of personal integrity, of standing up for what you believe is right even if that seems really hard. Rabia’s example of staying true to what she believed in, not compromising her own values, and using that core strength to face whatever the world throws at her has inspired me to try and be a better person.
General Manager Oceania, Coca-Cola South Pacific
In my role as Director of Women’s Markets at Westpac I get to meet the most amazing women both here in Australia and internationally. I have been doing this now for over 30 years and never have I had the opportunity to sit and listen to a woman tell her personal story of her amazing life in such a way that held the audience spellbound. Rabia is a true professional who understands the importance of getting her story across in a manner that connects to her audience and delivers a message throughout that women and girls can relate to. If you are looking for a speaker to deliver a message about resilience, passion and self belief and finding your voice then Rabia is one of the best. We need to promote more women like Rabia to speak at Women’s Conferences throughout Australia to show women in this country what can be achieved when you believe in yourself. We will certainly be engaging Rabia for further speaking engagements for Westpac both internally for our staff and externally for our Ruby events.
Director, Women’s Markets, Westpac Banking Corporation
I wanted to drop you a personal note to thank you for telling your mesmerising story to our clients. The response has been overwhelming, you certainly left an impression that will positively influence many of their lives. Someone once said to me that stars can’t shine without darkness and its our response to these moments that determines the legacy we leave. Yours is likely to be enduring and will proceed you.
CEO, Harrier Human Capital
Thank you so much for helping make last night the success it was. The positive feedback is already coming in and your name is always included in those comments. A very compelling heartfelt presentation of your amazing story that kept everyone captivated for the hour or so you spoke. You have raised the bar as far as the Guest Speaker role for next years Craig Mostyn Group Agribusiness Leaders Dinner I can assure you!
Executive Director, Craig Mostyn Group – Food and Agribusiness
A big thank you for your wonderful heart felt and thought provoking presentation at our ACSWA State Conference. Milling through the crowd on during the breakout sessions, there was much discussion on your presentation which was conspicuously and enormously well received. Some of the comments heard were that your talk was dynamic, engaging, beautifully presented, candid, moving and motivating, offering an inspirational message that our audience could clearly relate to, and take away with them.
ACSWA Project Manager