In this Paper, I refer to probably the most disadvantaged sector of the Australian community, its indigenous peoples. I have chosen this group, because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have become a significant body of litigants in my Court since the Federal Court of Australia was given jurisdiction to make determinations of native land title. I will start by providing some limited information concerning indigenous Australians. This information, by necessity, glosses over the diverse experiences and lifestyles of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and indeed, the diversity of non-indigenous Australian experiences and lifestyles. Nonetheless, it reflects the reality of a seriously disadvantaged sector of the Australian community. I will then outline briefly the historical background of two current areas of legal disputation of great importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The first is the issue of native title to land. The second is the issue of the forced separation between 1910 and 1970 of indigenous Australian children from their families. Next, I will identify the (not ungenerous) efforts undertaken to ensure that legal advice and representation is available to indigenous Australians in these critical areas of legal disputation. Finally, I will close with an examination of some of the structural and other difficulties which nonetheless face indigenous Australians in their pursuit of justice through the legal system. In doing this I will refer particularly to claims to native title to illustrate issues of broader significance.
Justice Catherine Branson,
More than Money,
24 Fordham Int'l L.J. S9
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol24/iss6/2