In this episode we are looking at Indigenous Legal Judgments, a collection of key legal decisions affecting Indigenous Australians, which have been re-imagined so as to be inclusive of Indigenous people’s stories, historical experience, perspectives and worldviews. The collection was edited by Professor Heather Douglas and Associate Professor Nicole Watson and was published last year.
Within the collection, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars have collaborated to rewrite 16 key legal judgments. Spanning from 1889 to 2017, the judgments reflect the trajectory of Indigenous people’s engagements with Australian law. The collection includes decisions that laid the foundation for the wrongful application of terra nullius and disavowal of native title. Contributors have also challenged narrow judicial interpretations of native title, which have denied recognition to Indigenous people who suffered the prolonged impacts of dispossession. Various authors have shown how judicial officers can use their power to challenge systemic racism and tell the stories of Indigenous people who have been dehumanised by the criminal justice system.
We are fortunate tonight to be joined by one of the collection’s editors, Associate Professor Nicole Watson. Nicole Watson is an Indigenous legal scholar, who belongs to the Munanjali and Birri Gubba Peoples of Queensland. She is currently employed as the Director of the Academic Unit in the Nura Gili Centre for Indigenous Programs, University of New South Wales.
We are also lucky to be joined by one of the collection’s contributors, Mary Spiers Williams. Mary is from the Australian National University where she is Sub Dean (Indigenous Studies) for the College of Arts and Social Science’s Executive, as well as being a lecturer in law. Her research primarily concerns the impact of state laws on First Peoples, centring the knowledges, law and insights of the First Peoples of Australia. She brings to her research insider-outsider perspectives – including that borne of her experiences as a legal practitioner and her identity and status as a woman descended from coloniser-settlers and First Peoples of the sandstone country that stretches north from the Dyarubbin (aka the Hawkesbury River).