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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 relationship between Indigenous peoples and the law goes to the foundation of Australia's legal and political identity. This subject considers a range of historical and current issues between Indigenous peoples and the law. Competition for land ownership has defined and driven race relations in Australia. This subject examines the historical dispossession of Indigenous people with reference to how this has impacted on current legal relations and debates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' dispossession by law and war, together with the Mabo decision, is evaluated. Land rights legislation, native title legislation and subsequent common law developments are also considered. Indigenous Australians are also the most incarcerated people in the world.

Considering this, their relations with the criminal justice system with particular reference to community police relations is discussed. Also, the policies of dispersal of communities and the forced removal of children from their families are considered, with particular reference to current impacts in areas such as welfare law.

The issue of self-determination is also considered in depth. Between 1972 and 1995 all federal governments had a policy of self-determination with regard to Indigenous peoples. The meanings and implications of this policy are examined in the context of self-determination policies in comparable countries such as Canada and the United States. Consideration is given to Australian and Canadian models of self-government, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and international standards and developing norms with respect to self-determination. The subject concludes with consideration of comparative ontologies and the scope for recognition of Indigenous laws.

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.