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76068 Indigenous Peoples and the Law

Requisite(s): ( 70317 Real Property OR (70110 Introduction to Law AND (76006c Public International Law OR 70108c Public International Law OR 76110c Introduction to Public International Law)))
The lower case 'c' after the subject code indicates that the subject is a corequisite. See definitions for details.
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


The Anglo-Australian legal system was built upon the dispossession of the land, resources, and knowledges of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. As unwilling participants in the construction and maintenance of a Settler–Colonial State, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples were at first regarded by the dominant legal system as a problem to be solved. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples might be categorised within this Settler–Colonial paradigm as a problem to managed. But to paraphrase the words of Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People 'are not the problem'.

This subject explores the historical and contemporary relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations and the Australian legal system. It begins with a critique of the Australian legal fiction of 'settlement' in the context of the structure and operation of pre-existing and continuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies. This is not merely an historical account: the subject explores the fundamental flaws in the construction and purported legitimation of the jurisdiction of the Anglo-Australian legal system as a means to understand and critique current and future developments within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal relations.

Within this framing, the subject explores constructions of Indigeneity in the law and broader society. The subject tracks the policy approaches adopted by successive governments from first contact to today and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Specific topics of focus include land dispossession and over-representation within the criminal justice and child welfare systems. These interactions are contrasted with the consistent calls for review and improvement made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples themselves, highlighting and exploring the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People's tireless work for inclusion, recognition, land rights and respect, and most recently in work towards establishing self-governance through treaty making.

Detailed subject description.

Access conditions

Note: The requisite information presented in this subject description covers only academic requisites. Full details of all enforced rules, covering both academic and admission requisites, are available at access conditions and My Student Admin.