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The settler legal system in Australia has been built upon dispossession and erasure of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as their land, laws and knowledges. Law continues to closely (over)regulate the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while failing to properly protect Indigenous interests. This course will investigate the variety of ways in which settler law has operated to afford (and deny) rights and interests to Indigenous people, both as individuals and as polities.
In this subject we will engage together with questions of Indigeneity, voice, recognition of Indigenous legal systems, settler-colonialism, sovereignty and self-determination as they relate to Australian legal systems and institutions. On this basis, the course will build upon and also reconsider the hegemonic knowledges introduced across a range of compulsory units in the Juris Doctor – including Principles of Public Law, Constitutional Law, Property, Criminal Law and Administrative Law.
The subject brings together these bodies of law to engage with the emerging debates in Australian law and politics – such as who gets do define Aboriginality and how, how our Constitutional arrangements can best recognise and respond to Indigenous peoples, and how settler law and legal institutions may better account for the ongoing practice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal systems.
This course will place emphasis on engaging directly with key leaders in Indigenous justice, and engage closely with Indigenous writings on how to respond to and challenge the injustices towards Indigenous peoples perpetuated by the settler-colonial state. We will also consider and seek to build the skills and knowledges, including self-knowledge, which lawyers require to work effectively alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their justice movements.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students will:
- Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values as they relate to the diversity of Indigenous systems of law and justice operating in Australia today, and compare and contrast these to the values underpinning the settler legal system in Australia.
- Understand and articulate key debates around the legal definition of Indigeneity in Australia and the impacts of these debates on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of a range of critical and theoretical perspectives on the relationship between the Australian settler state and Indigenous peoples, and key frameworks for understanding Indigenous rights and resistance in Australia.
- Critically analyse the ways in which Australian law is similar to, and differs from, other settler states and international law in the regulation of state-Indigenous relationships;
- Express their views clearly in writing and orally and to contribute to constructive public and scholarly debates on issues relating to Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination;
- Demonstrate analytic and problem-solving skills necessary to engage with complex legal disputes involving Indigenous peoples and their interests
- Develop racial literacy with the ability to critically evaluate specific representations of Indigenous Australians and settler Australians within legal texts;
- Demonstrate an understanding and put into practice key protocols and knowledges relevant to respectfully working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in legal practice.
- Develop arguments as to the appropriate legal principles to apply in various contexts by creatively and critically evaluating Australian law as it relates to Indigenous peoples;
- Enhance their personal and professional skills, including learning autonomously, being accountable for one's work, self-reflection on performance and ethical professional conduct;
- Facilitate discussion around key debates to extend their own and their colleagues learning;
- Conduct self-directed research on topics relevant to this complex, cross-disciplinary field of law in written work showing evidence of critical thought, sophisticated analysis, self-reflection and rigorous argumentation;
- Present arguments in the form of written and oral work that is clear, responsive to purpose and in which arguments and claims are appropriately structured, developed, supported and referenced;
- Demonstrate reflection skills, including the ability to engage in high-level analysis and critical reflection, and to develop and articulate legal reform ideas for social change based on theoretical and empirical knowledge of the operation of the law.
Last updated: 31 January 2024