Indigenous People of Australia and the Law

Unit code: LLW2009 | Study level: Undergraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
City Campus
Footscray Park
Online Real Time


This unit examines indigenous people of Australia and their culture in the context of historical and contemporary Australian law and society. The unit examines laws and policies concerning indigenous identity, including recognition of rights under the Australian Constitution and rights, native title, and customary law are examined, from both a historical perspective, and a present one. Particular focus is given to territorial issues, equality and the interaction of indigenous people with the criminal justice system and international law and comparative perspectives. Some comparisons are made of other Indigenous peoples, including Canada, the Nordic countries and New Zealand. The unit also considers law reform in the areas of human rights, the criminal justice system, issues of self-determination, and reconciliation.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Analyse and apply knowledge and understanding of the common law, constitutional and statutory framework as it currently applies to indigenous Australians.
  2. Examine and assess human rights issues that have historically and in more recent times affected indigenous Australians in order to formulate appropriate legal responses;
  3. Communicate effectively, on multifaceted issues affecting indigenous Australians and by comparing the approaches taken in overseas jurisdictions such as Canada and New Zealand and Norway.


For Melbourne campuses

Assessment type: Dissertation
Grade: 10%
Quiz - 10 Multiple Choice Questions.
Assessment type: Assignment
Grade: 40%
Essay on a contemporary or past legal issue
Assessment type: Examination
Grade: 50%
Final Examination

Required reading

Indigenous Legal Relations in Australia
Behrendt et al, 2019| Oxford University Press

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