ILC e-newsletter #12 December 2014
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Since our last quarterly update, we have continued to keep busy providing quality community legal education to our stakeholders here in Australia, and overseas. 

Our Director, Prof Megan Davis has been back to the UN and continues to be one of the lawyers involved with discussions on constitutional reform. Our Centre Fellows, Dr Leon Terrill and Dr Kyllie Cripps have also been busy presenting on their research around Australia; and our Editors have been busy compiling and editing articles for the Indigenous Law Bulletin (ILB) and Australian Indigenous Law Review (AILR).

Thank you to everyone who has supported the ILC this year with testimonials and donations. While our search for funding continues we can happily confirm that we will be here in 2015!

Anyone who can offer support by way of a donation should click here.

The Centre will close from Monday 22 December 2014 and re-open Monday 5 January 2015.

Wishing all of our supporters a great Christmas and Happy New Year!
L-R: Julian Laurens (Researcher for Dr Kyllie Cripps); Lucy Jackson (Researcher for Prof Megan Davis); Marie Iskander (Editor, AILR); Rebecca Gallegos (Editor, ILB); Prof Megan Davis (Director); Dr Kyllie Cripps (Centre Fellow); Dr Leon Terrill (Centre Fellow).

UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples 

ILC Director, Prof Megan Davis, attended the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September. Held at the UN General Assembly in New York on the 22 and 23 September, the conference had over 1000 Indigenous delegates, Heads of State and Government, UN officials and national human rights institutions in attendance.

The conference was a high level plenary meeting which aimed to share perspectives and best practices on the realisation of the rights of Indigenous peoples. A landmark outcome of the meetings was the adoption of an action-oriented Outcome Document, in which UN Member States renewed their commitment to issues affecting Indigenous Peoples around the globe.

For more information about the conference you can visit the United Nations website.
Roundtable 2 - Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the national and local level, 22 September 2014, New York. Image by Shane Brown, GCG Media Team. 

Constitutional recognition 

The cover story for Uniken, UNSW’s flagship magazine, featured an in-depth interview with Prof Davis. More than Words, by journalist Natasha Robinson provides an insight into why ‘poetry’ in a preamble is not enough in the push for constitutional reform and recognition of Australia’s First Peoples.

“When you look at how other reconciliation processes work – really effective ones, like Canada’s – they do require a ventilating of stories, of competing and contested narratives,” Prof Davis said.

“You need to give everyone that space. There’s so much that we haven’t seriously engaged with.” Read more here...

Click here to hear more about Indigenous recognition from Prof Davis in UNSW Law’s Thought Leaders Playlist.
Megan Davis in New York earlier this year. Image by Andrezj Liguz courtesy of UNSW.

Foreign Policy for a Top 20 Nation

Prof Megan Davis spoke at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) in her capacity as Australia’s expert on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII).

The AIIA conference was on Foreign Policy for a Top 20 Nation. Megan spoke about the contribution Australia is making to the UN through her role including work combating violence against women and reform of the PFII working methods.

She also spoke about what Australia could learn from the experience of the UNPFII including the substantive forms of constitutional recognition that are provided to most Indigenous peoples globally.

Alumni award for Prof Megan Davis

Image courtesy of UQ.
The University of Queensland (UQ) has honoured Prof Davis for her outstanding contribution to the Indigenous community. 
The 2014 Indigenous Community Impact Alumni Award was awarded to Prof Davis for her work in improving outcomes for Australian First Nations people and for her contribution to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Prof Davis was formally awarded at UQ's annual ‘Courting the Greats Ceremony’ in early October.
Staff at the ILC and UNSW Law Faculty congratulate Prof Davis on such a prestigious and well deserved award!

Effecting Change and Driving Dialogue in QLD

L-R: Phillip Peachey & Ron Weatherall from the Qld Department Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs, with Prof Megan Davis and Jocelyn Bell from the Qld Department of the Premier and Cabinet.Image by Marie Iskander.
In late November, Prof Megan Davis delivered a series of talks and was part of a government roundtable discussion with the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs.

Prof Davis gave a detailed presentation on the principles and policies emanating out of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as the values driven by the UN PFII, and how these principles and values can be adopted as part of Australia’s strategic policies when seeking to better serve our Indigenous peoples. 

AILR Editor, Marie Iskander, who accompanied Prof Davis on the trip, said the discussions gave her a "deeper appreciation of the importance of engaging in genuine dialogue to effect change and drive law reform which better serves our society." 

Prof Davis & Ms Iskander also had the opportunity to meet with the honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, former Governor General of Australia, who spoke about her ongoing work with a variety of remote Indigenous communities and her role in leading the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland. 
L-R: Marie Iskander, The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO and Prof Megan Davis met in Qld.

Dr Terrill presents at ANU Conference

In September, the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) held a conference called ‘Engaging Indigenous Economy’ to commemorate the retirement of Professor Jon Altman, who was the Foundation Director of CAEPR.

The conference focussed on the areas that Altman has researched during his long career and included high-quality presenters from around Australia.

Dr Leon Terrill gave a presentation entitled ‘Neoliberal Rhetoric and Guardian State Outcomes in Aboriginal Land Reform’, which described the troubling gap between recent reforms to Aboriginal land ownership in Australia and the way those reforms have been debated in public forums.

Further information about the conference and Dr Terrill’s presentation can be found here.

New research brief

Centre Fellow, Dr Leon Terrill has released an easy to understand research brief explaining the complexities of township leasing.

Introduced in 2006, township leases are one method of ‘formalising tenure’, or introducing more formal arrangements for the allocation and use of land in Aboriginal communities.

There are currently three township leases covering a total of six Aboriginal communities. The Australian Government has said that it would like to see township leases over all major communities on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. The Government argues that township leases support development, while other people have expressed concern about their long term impact. The purpose of the research brief is to clarify what township leases actually do.  

The brief is part of Dr Terrill’s extensive research on Indigenous land reform in Australia. You can find out more about township leases and how they relate to other recent reforms by downloading the research brief.

Dr Cripps presents on Indigenous family violence

Image of Dr Cripps courtesy of Barwon Health.
In September, Centre Fellow Dr Kyllie Cripps spoke at a forum on Indigenous family violence hosted by the Barwon and South West Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group and Barwon Health. The forum was an opportunity to engage in a community-wide conversation about the context, causes and consequences of family violence. It also allowed for a discussion on the impact of reporting trends in light of new failure to protect laws introduced in Victoria.

Dr Cripps’ published an article on this subject in the ILB in its special on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In October, Dr Cripps also participated in a Victorian workshop hosted by Koorie Women Mean Business. ‘Big Name, No Blanket’ explored the details of the new failure to protect laws with service providers in the state such as Victoria Police, Women’s and Children’s Support Services and other state government departments. 

Joint grant to breathe new life into Indigenous Law Library

The ILC has been successful in securing a grant through the Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure Initiative (MREII) for the completion of a joint project with AustLII.
The project will update and further develop the Australian Indigenous Law Library first developed with AustLII in 2008.
The Law Library provides a public repository for domestic & international research collaboration and for the Aboriginal community itself to be able to locate historical documents for their own research. 
The new grant will see important historical and legal document digitised and made available to the public through the AustLII website. 

Tribute to Gough Whitlam

Staff at the ILC were very saddened to learn of the passing of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam AC QC on 21 October.

Mr Whitlam was instrumental in creating change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

The Indigenous Law Centre is itself a legacy of Gough Whitlam’s approach to Indigenous affairs and without his passion for justice the Centre would not be here today.

Read our tribute in full here.
Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of Vincent Lingiari, symbolically handing the land at Wave Hill Station, NT back to the Gurindji people in 1975. Image by Mervyn Bishop courtesy of AGNSW.

Essay winners announced!

The ILC ran its first university-wide constitutional recognition essay competition in Semester 2.

The competition was run by
student interns, Ann and Emily, and asked students to address the question of whether constitutionally speaking we are still basically White Australia.

We received seven entries with our judges, Prof Megan Davis, Dr Sarah Pritchard SC, Associate Prof Sean Brennan and Bob Debus AM, finding it hard to separate all of them.

First prize was awarded to Esther Pearson from the University of Adelaide. Esther will have her paper published in the next ILB.

Highly commended was awarded to Geoff Milani from Flinders University.

And our judges recognised two other essays with commended awards: Matt Paterson from the UQ and Robert Size from UTS.

Thank you to everyone who entered and a special thanks to Recognise and UNSW Law for providing prize money and marketing support!

Student news

The ILC has continued its internship program in Semester 2, with UNSW law undergraduates, Ann Emmanuel, Emily Haworth and Hugh Montgomery. Both Ann and Emily were ILB Student Editors, whilst Hugh worked as the AILR Student Editor.

Our interns worked on a variety of interesting tasks—editing articles on issues ranging from funding cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, to the importance of Indigenous community legal education. Ann and Emily attended the official launch of UNSW’s endorsement of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s national anti-racism campaign Racism. It Stops With Me on the 20
 August. Hugh also wrote an article for the ILB, examining what law and community legal education can do to address online racism. 

As always we have enjoyed having our interns with us this semester and we thank them for all of their hard work and passion!

Indigenous Law Bulletin

The July/August edition of the ILB examined how the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The feature article for this edition was by the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA: Why the Caged Bird Sings: Issues with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In compiling this edition, Editor Rebecca Gallegos worked with Indigenous Law Centre (ILC) Director Prof Megan Davis and ILC Fellow, Dr Kyllie Cripps to highlight how the Commission is encouraging Indigenous people to be heard. Read more here…

The September/October edition included a variety of topics such as funding cuts to Aboriginal Legal Services, Lex Wotton’s last quest for justice, the Tsilhqot’in case in Canada and the story of how Aboriginal campaigners stopped a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty. 

The November/December edition about to be released is a special edition on constitutional recognition and includes articles by leading academics like Megan Davis and Kate Galloway, as well as a collection of pieces by Indigenous students from UNSW.

Do you want to contribute?

The Editor is now calling for contributions for general content for the January/February 2015 edition. Submissions of approx. 2000 words can be sent to: between 5 -23 January, 2015.

Australian Indigenous Law Review

The AILR has published its final edition for the 2013/2014 period.

Issue 17(2) is a special edition centred on the theme of ‘Formal Equality, Substantive Equality and Special Measures’. The aim of the edition is to shed a fresh light on issues pertaining to the differential treatment of Indigenous peoples under both Australian law as well as law in other jurisdictions.

The edition features a foreword by the ILC Director, Prof Megan Davis, with a feature article by Senior Research Officer and Senior Project Coordinator of the Indigenous Legal Needs Project, Fiona Allison titled ‘A Limited Right to Equality: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Racial Discrimination law for Indigenous Australians through an Access to Justice Lens’.

For a full list of articles in this edition please visit the ILC website.

The AILR Editor, Marie Iskander would like to sincerely thank all the anonymous peer referees, who gave freely of their time and expertise to review each of the articles presented in the edition. Special thanks are also extended to each of the authors who contributed to this issue. 

Call for submissions

The AILR is currently welcoming submissions to be considered for inclusion in a general edition. If you would like to submit an article (between 6,000-14,000 words, including footnotes) for the general edition, please email an abstract or brief summary of your topic to the Editor at:

Welcome to new Centre Associates

We are very pleased to officially welcome two new Centre Associates to the ILC community. 

Former ILC coordinator, Dr Melanie Simpson joined us in September and former politician Robert ‘Bob’ Debus AM joined us in October. 

Dr Simpson made a significant contribution to the ILC as Coordinator and has remained affiliated with the work of the Centre since starting her new role as a Research Officer within the Justice Health Research Program, at UNSW’s Kirby Institute.

Bob Debus has had a long and successful career in state and federal governments including serving as the NSW Attorney and as Federal Minister for Home Affairs. Bob is passionate about Indigenous justice and brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge in this field.

Call for partnerships

The Indigenous Law Centre is continuing its search for funding to replace the funding cut by the Federal Government.

We are seeking to form new partnerships with those interested in supporting the empowerment of Indigenous communities through community legal education.

If you, your employer, your colleagues or community are interested in developing a relationship with the Centre please contact Jordana Wong at:

Alternatively you can contact the Centre directly on 02 9385 2252 or at:
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