LAW5451 - Indigenous people and the law - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit examines the historical and contemporary legislative measures by which Indigenous people have been controlled, 'protected' and disempowered. It looks at laws and policies concerning identity, dispossession, protection, assimilation and 'intervention' or 'emergency response'. It will examine over-representation of Indigenous people within the criminal justice system, deaths in custody, the 'stolen generations' issue, land rights, native title, and customary law. The experience of Indigenous Australians is focussed upon as a 'case study' but significant comparison is made between this experience and that of other Indigenous people in particular in Canada, New Zealand and Malaysia. The unit also considers human rights, self determination, reconciliation, law reform and human rights issues.


On completion of this unit, a student should be able to

  • apply knowledge and understanding of the common law, constitutional and statutory framework that has applied to Indigenous people of Australia, and compare with selected common law countries particularly Canada and New Zealand;
  • critically assess and evaluate relevant principles, laws and precedents and apply them to resolve legal issues relating to Indigenous people;
  • investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information from the judgments and secondary materials on Indigenous issues, applying theoretical and practical perspectives relating to the interaction between Indigenous people and the introduced legal system;
  • use cognitive, technical and creative skills to identify human rights issues affecting Indigenous people in factual scenarios and to develop complex arguments for appropriate legal responses to address these issues;
  • communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, on complex issues affecting Indigenous people in Australia and comparison with overseas jurisdictions; and
  • reflect on and assess their own capabilities and performance, and make use of feedback on performance to support personal and professional development.


Research assignment (3,750 words): 50%

Take-home examination (3,750 words): 50%

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)

Chief examiner(s)


JD students should have completed LAW5000 or an equivalent unit at another university.