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  • 06 Equity and Rights in Society
  • Indigenous Law
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Handbook

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Indigenous Law

This chapter provides an explanation of what Aboriginal law is as well as describing particular rights that are protected by law (land, cultural, hunting and fishing). The chapter also explains the law of anti-discrimination and the disproportionate representation of Aborigines in the criminal justice system.

What is Indigenous Law?

There is a distinction between Indigenous law and the law which governs Indigenous People in Australia today. Indigenous law is law that existed before the coming of the common law system that we continue to follow today. For a long time, the idea of Indigenous law existing in Australia, parti...

Who is an Aborigine?

Firstly, it is important to note that the appropriate use of the word 'aborigine' depends on circumstance. Here, we are referring to legislation and specific definitions and language under the Aboriginal Lands Act 1995 (Tas) and other legislation. In other contexts, it is important to use terms c...

Right to Land

Land law is the most important part of Aboriginal law. It defines who you are and where you belong. Even before the famous Mabo case (Mabo & Anor v Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1), Australian society had begun to recognise the continuing importance of land to Aboriginal communities by passing ‘l...

Other Rights and Interests

Hunting and Fishing Taking fish from the sea and birds and animals from the land continues to be an important part of modern day Aboriginal law and culture in Tasmania. Until recently such activities were regarded as illegal unless allowed by legislation applicable to the general community and c...

Families

The Commonwealth's 1996 Inquiry Into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children From Their Families (‘the Stolen Generations’ Inquiry) documented the damage done to Aboriginal people, their families and community by past ‘welfare’ practices directed towards the assimilation ...

Discrimination

Discrimination on the grounds of race, colour and national or ethnic origin in employment, joining trade unions, housing, access to places and goods and services and in advertising, is illegal under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (s9). A number of provisions of the Racial Discrimination...

Indigenous self-determination, self-government and sovereignty

Whilst much of the focus in the recent decade has been on ‘Sorry’, and a wide cultural and political recognition of the wrongs of the past, there have been more other political movements to achieve representation for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous Australians never chose the s...

Aboriginal Australians and the Criminal Law

Aboriginal Australians are disproportionately represented in low socio-economic demographics. They are more likely to be arrested, charged with offences and imprisoned than any other group in Australia. Charges often involve drunkenness, bad language and defiance of authority as an element, and b...

Legal Assistance

There is no legal impediment to Tasmanian Aborigines accessing the same legal assistance as other Tasmanian residents but the practical exclusion of many Aboriginal Australians from legal representation in the criminal justice system resulted in the establishment of Aboriginal Legal Services thro...

Organisations

Aboriginal organisations fulfil many functions in the Aboriginal community. They are a means of political advancement for the community and the maintenance of Aboriginal cultural identity in mainstream Australian society. Some are ‘grassroots’ organisations thrown up by the struggles of the Abori...

Page last updated 03/02/2020

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