Critics’ Reviews

This succinct publication (150 pages) addresses the practical difficulties faced by Aboriginal people in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, and how that process can be better used to the benefit of Aboriginal people, particularly in the mediation process which, the authors argue, has brought frustration, disappointment and disillusionment to Aboriginal people. The process proposed is an ADR process based on the traditional dispute resolution mechanisms and the values of many Aboriginal communities….

The authors develop two models of conflict resolution which rely on a deeper understanding and appreciation of the dynamics of Aboriginal culture, communities and families and which incorporate values relating to the cultural differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. One model is for use in resolution of intra-cultural disputes (those occurring only amongst Aboriginal people) and the other model is for use in resolution of inter-cultural disputes (those involving both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people). The two models are not exclusive, but complimentary. The intra-cultural model is informed by traditional Aboriginal dispute resolution practice, whereas the inter-cultural model is informed by contemporary mediation and facilitation practice. The two models developed highlight the possibilities of reforming approaches to the resolution of disputes involving Aboriginal people and are potentially more effective in engaging Aboriginal disputants in the whole process.

The analysis undertaken has general application and is not merely applicable to disputes involving native title. The suggested models could result in better outcomes for all involved in the process and not just Aboriginal participants.

This publication will be of particular interest to any practitioner who is involved in any litigation involving Indigenous people. – Dan O’Gorman SC, Hearsay, Issue 36, August 2009, Bar Association of Queensland

Resolving Indigenous Disputes: Land Conflict and Beyond by Drs Larissa Behrendt and Loretta Kelly provides a useful insight into the issues surrounding indigenous land claims. The text covers a number of milestones in Australian native title legal history: the promise of the Mabo decision, the introduction of the Native Title Act 1993 and the restrictive trend of the Wik decision. … The authors argue that dispute resolution models need to be more effective in engaging Aboriginal disputants. The text is useful in taking the reader to the very heart of indigenous land claim issues and identifying the difficulties around implementation of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. – Jane Grace, Principal Lawyer, Australian Communications and Media Authority, Ethos, ACT Law Society Journal, June 2009

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