The Federation Press


Indigenous peoples and the law


A glance at the chapters in this book discloses issues of great importance to the Australian people. They include:

  • self-determination for Aborigines
  • claims of title to and compensation for loss of traditional lands
  • the impact of British law on colonised peoples
  • deaths in custody
  • the Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
  • criminal law after Mabo v Queensland (N0 2)
  • incarceration of Aboriginal women
  • intellectual property rights in indigenous art.

These are issues which reflect the culture, the perceptions, the aspirations and concerns of Aboriginal people. As such, they are of importance to all Australians.

It is my hope that this book will stimulate informed discourse which, in turn, will facilitate identification and resolution of unaddressed problems for the benefit of all Australians.

Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE
Chief Justice of Australia


While several books have been published on rights of Australia’s indigenous population, Majah approaches the subject from a unique angle. It is insightful, informative and quite comprehensive. - Australian Lawyer, October 1996

‘Majah’ means ‘white boss’ to the Bundjalung people of north-eastern NSW.... [This book] looks closely at the impact of the ‘white boss’ upon the Indigenous peoples of Australia. This collection challenges the perception of Australia as a post-colonial State and asserts that Australia’s Aboriginals remain colonised in what is termed neocolonialism. The various authors make a strong call for indigenous self-determination. ... A well written and challenging book, Majah ... discloses many issues of importance which reflect the culture, perceptions, aspirations and concerns of Aboriginal people. - Proctor (Law Society of Queensland), February 1997

Table of Contents

Nungas in the nineties
Irene Watson
Detention, torture, terror and the Australian State: Aboriginal people, criminal justice and neocolonialism
Chris Cunneen
British common law and colonised peoples: Studies in Trinidad and Western Australia
Jeannine Purdy
The price of compromise: Should Australia ratify ILO Convention 169
Lisa Strelein
Keeping the colonisers honest: The implications of Recommendation 333
Neil Lofgren
Koori cultural heritage: Reclaiming the past?
Greta Bird
Intellectual property and the "imaginary Aboriginal"
Shelley Wright
Te reo Maori - Te reo rangatira o Aotearoa - Te okeoke roa
The Maori language - The chiefly language of Aotearoa - The long struggle
Nin Tomas
Deconstructing the Royal Commission - Representations of "Aboriginality" in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
Mark Harris
Five issues for the criminal law after Mabo
Jenny Blokland and Martin Flynn
The recognition of Aboriginality by Australian criminal law
Stanley Yeo
The incarceration of Aboriginal women
Marie Brooks
The Yorta Yorta struggle for justice continues
Wayne Atkinson

Of interest...