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The Effectiveness Of The Law In Achieving Justice For Indigenous People

4305 words - 17 pages

The Effectiveness of the Law in Achieving Justice for Indigenous People

In relation to Australia, the term ‘Indigenous peoples’ refers to two
distinct cultures of people who inhabited the land prior to European
settlement – The Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders. This
population declined dramatically over the 19th and early 20th century
due to the introduction of new diseases from European settlement,
Government policies of dispersal and dispossession, the era of
protection, assimilation and integration causing a cultural disruption
and disintegration of the Indigenous peoples. In the 20th century the
recognition and protection of Indigenous peoples land rights and human
rights have been at the forefront of Global Issues where the
International community has sought to address the issues and ratify
Human Rights and Land Rights for Indigenous People as a legitimate
subject to be implemented into international law and the domestic law
of member states such as Australia. To evaluate the effectiveness of
the law in achieving justice for Indigenous Australians we must look
at the Australian Legal System, and the extent to which it addresses
it’s obligations to International Law in relation to Australia’s
Indigenous People.

In evaluating the Legal System’s response to Indigenous People and
it’s achieving of justice, an outline of the history of Indigenous
Australians - before and during settlement - as well as their status
in Australian society today must be made. The dispossession of their
land and culture has deprived Indigenous People of economic revenue
that the land would have provided if not colonised, as well as their
tradition, culture, language and spirituality - of which they were
almost entirely robbed.

Prior to the colonisation of Australia in 1788, the indigenous
peoples lived in harmony with the land – hunting what they required to
survive and preserving the environment through calculated methods of
harvesting. They extracted only what was necessary and provided the
land with enough time to regenerate. The Indigenous Australians worked
to maintain the fragility of the environment, following the
traditional belief that they were the guardians of the land who were
to maintain and preserve it for future generations.

Aboriginals also had their own system of law based on customs and
beliefs, which worked like any other in resolving disputes,
acknowledging family and other relationships and protecting traditions
and beliefs. However, their laws were not documented in writing but
rather passed down orally from elders to children, as well as
communicated through art.

Upon settling, the Europeans failed to recognise the Indigenous
system of law, as well as the deep attachment that the Aboriginal
people had to the land and the traditional methods of...

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