4th Mar 2021
Recent case highlights what constitutes 'reasonable grounds' for a lawful police stop and search.
25th Feb 2021
Significant damages awarded by the Federal Court in a defamation case.
9th Mar 2021
Tuesday 9 March 2021
12th Mar 2021
12 March 2021
Luna Park, Sydney
The ALA's media releases on Indigenous rights can be found here.
Since October 2019, the ALA has also been developing an archive of media resources highlighting and/or discussing justice issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. See below.
Champion of Indigenous justice — Cairns Local News, 18 February 2021
Melia Benn, a Cairns-based Mamu and Gunggandji barrister, has received the Australian Lawyers Alliance’s 2021 Queensland Civil Justice Award.
Legal action launched against NT Government over McArthur River Mine security bond — ABC News, 13 February 2021
Traditional owners near the Gulf of Carpentaria have launched legal action against the Northern Territory Government over its decision to slash the security bond paid by a massive lead and zinc mine.
Queensland's tough youth justice measures will disproportionately impact Indigenous youth — NITV, 11 February 2021
Elders have slammed Queensland's new youth justice measures as 'punitive', 'outdated' and a 'knee-jerk' reaction that doesn't address the root causes of juvenile offending, and disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
Aboriginal woman in ACT prison alleges she was stripped naked in front of male inmates — The Guardian, 26 January 2021
An Aboriginal woman with a serious heart condition, who is on remand in the ACT’s only prison, has said she was forcibly stripped naked by guards in full view of male inmates.
Toxicity swirls around January 26, but we can change the nation with a Voice to parliament — The Conversation, 25 January 2021
As Australians continue to find a way through annual debates about reconciliation and national identity, Professor Megan Davis explains how the path to friendship offered by the Uluru Statement – an expression of peace – provides a roadmap forward for Australia.
An Indigenous ‘Voice’ must be enshrined in our Constitution. Here’s why — The Conversation, 22 January 2021
This year has already seen significant progress in the government’s commitment to establish an Indigenous Voice to parliament.
However, concerns have emerged from those involved in the co-design process and public law experts that the Uluru Statement’s call for constitutional enshrinement – or protection – of the Voice, is going unheeded.
Can we breathe? — IndigenousX, 31 December 2020
Gregory Phillips, a Waanyi and Jaru medical anthropologist, reflects on the fact that many of 2020's major disasters — bushfires, COVID-19 and white supremacy — are the consequence of colonisation.
He believes it is time to re-assess the concept of reconciliation, and the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
'Paternalistic, punitive': Push to expand cashless debit cards slammed — NITV, 19 December 2020
Community groups have slammed a Senate inquiry's recommendation to expand the controversial cashless debit card scheme, saying that it is discriminatory, punitive, and ineffective.
Tanya Day’s family sues state government for wrongful death, false imprisonment — The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 2020
The family of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who sustained fatal injuries in police custody, is suing the Victorian government for false imprisonment and wrongfully causing her death.
Mapping justice — ABC News, 15 December 2020
Thirty years ago, Leanne Liddle, an Arrernte woman from Alice Springs, left the NT to join the police. Now, she has returned on behalf of the Northern Territory Government for talks about an Aboriginal Justice Agreement.
Police officer threatens to 'belt the f***' out of Aboriginal teenagers in Alice Springs watch house — ABC News, 14 December 2020
A police officer has been caught on tape grabbing, shoving and verbally abusing an Aboriginal teenage boy in the Alice Springs watch house.
David Dungay's family delivers open letter to NSW government, asking for justice — NITV, 8 December 2020
The family of David Dungay Jr has delivered an open letter to the NSW Parliament calling for the establishment of an independent body to investigate deaths in custody, and for those responsible for the death of Mr Dungay to be held accountable.
‘Like a Cattle Yard’: How Justice Is Delivered in Australia’s Bush Courts — The New York Times, 6 December 2020
In some remote Aboriginal communities, judges and lawyers arrive by plane and handle dozens of cases in a single day. Critics claim that language barriers and the rapid pace that cases are adjudicated infringe on human rights.
Indigenous imprisonment, suicide and self-harm rates have risen, report finds — The Guardian, 3 December 2020
Rates of Indigenous imprisonment, suicide and self-harm have risen over the past four years, and the number of Aboriginal children being taken into out-of-home care has tripled, according to the Productivity Commission’s four-year report on overcoming Indigenous disadvantage.
Joint statement: Government must act immediately to transform the justice system for Aboriginal people — Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, 3 November 2020
The Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations calls on the NSW Government to end deaths in custody and the over-incarceration of Aboriginal people.
Urgent priorities for action include the immediate establishment of a Walama Court; independent investigations of all deaths in custody and police misconduct; raising the age of legal responsibility to at least 14; and the creation of ambitious state-based justice targets.
NT urges Commonwealth to strengthen sacred site laws in wake of Juukan Gorge destruction — ABC News, 29 October 2020
Northern Territory authorities have called Australia's sacred site laws 'weak' and 'disgraceful', and are calling for swift changes to see them overhauled.
Prison authorities should have managed Indigenous man's asthma before fatal attack, inquiry told — The Guardian, 28 October 2020
Respiratory specialist Professor Greg King has told the inquest of 36-year-old Indigenous man Nathan Reynolds, who died in custody of an asthma attack, that prison authorities should have recognised Reynolds' previous medical history and implemented an appropriate asthma management plan.
Class action launched against West Australian Government over Indigenous stolen wages — ABC News, 19 October 2020
A class action has been launched against the West Australian Government in the hope of claiming compensation and lost earnings for the decades of unpaid labour forced upon Indigenous people.
More than one thousand people have registered for the claim, but according to lawyers working on the case, up to ten thousand workers and their descendants would be eligible.
Redfern-Waterloo campaign calls for commitment to affordable Aboriginal social housing — National Indigenous Times, 2 October 2020
The Redfern-Waterloo Aboriginal Affordable Housing Campaign is advocating for 10% Aboriginal affordable housing in all government redevelopments in the Redfern/Waterloo area, as well as an increase in Aboriginal social housing led by an Aboriginal-owned or managed community housing provider or led in partnership with an Aboriginal organisation.
Victorian coroner changes how Indigenous deaths in custody are investigated — The Guardian, 22 September 2020
The coroner’s court of Victoria has changed the way it investigates Indigenous deaths in custody to reflect recommendations made in a royal commission almost 30 years ago, but Aboriginal legal services say that they don’t have enough funding to meet the court’s new commitments.
'National emergency': urgent leadership needed after fifth Aboriginal death in custody since June — The Guardian, 20 September 2020
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) has called for urgent leadership, and for the government to implement all of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, following the fifth Aboriginal death in custody since June.
'How is this right?': The fight to 'free' the Aboriginal flag — The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2020
For more than a year the Aboriginal Flag has been entangled in a legal stoush between its designer and copyright holder, its licensees and dozens of community and sporting organisations. A 'Free the Flag' movement has gained momentum, which calls for new licensing agreements over the Flag's design, particularly for Aboriginal businesses and organisations.
Indigenous woman's death in custody at Brisbane watch house prompts Ethical Standards investigation — ABC News, 10 September 2020
A 48-year-old Indigenous woman has died in Brisbane while being remanded in custody, after appearing in the Magistrates Court on drug and theft charges.
Police from the Ethical Standards Command are investigating, and the matter is being overviewed by the state coroner and the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Failure to Press Criminal Charges over Tanya Day’s Custody Death Reflects Wider Injustice for First Nations — Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 4 September 2020
The decision by the DPP not to charge two Victorian police officers for the death in custody of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, after the coroner recommended that the officers could be found criminally negligent, is another missed opportunity to bring about substantial justice for First Nations people.
Indigenous prison rates can fall fast: here's the proof — The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2020
Dr Thalia Anthony, a professor of law at the University of Technology Sydney, explains how the fall in NSW incarceration rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is proof that we are capable of drastically reducing Indigenous incarceration rates nation-wide.
First Nations lawyers call for urgent action on Walama Court — The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2020
First Nations lawyers in NSW have urged the state government to act swiftly to establish the long-awaited Walama Court to help divert Indigenous offenders from prison and reduce reoffending.
Indigenous court case lodged in Australian Human Rights Commission looks to claim $400 million in stolen wages — The West Australian, 6 August 2020 (subscription required)
Around 20,000 First Nations people are expected to join a landmark WA stolen wages claim lodged in the Australian Human Rights Commission that seeks to recover wages withheld from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who lived and worked in WA between December 1936 and June 1972.
Indigenous arrest rates are a national crisis, says Marcia Langton — The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August 2020
Prominent academic Marcia Langton says Black Lives Matter protests must continue to agitate for changes to reduce Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody in a criminal justice system that is structurally racist.
Victorian government and First Peoples' Assembly to begin 'momentous' treaty negotiations — The Guardian, 3 August 2020
The Victorian government will meet with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria for the first time to officially begin planning treaty negotiations.
New National Closing the Gap Agreement comes under fire over justice targets — Pro Bono Australia, 31 July 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. However, many advocacy groups believe that the targets are not ambitious enough and will fail to deliver justice.
Death in custody: Coronial inquest into the death of 37 year old Aboriginal woman, Veronica Nelson, begins — Human Rights Law Centre, 16 July 2020
As the inquest into the death in custody of Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman Veronica Nelson begins, the Human Rights Law Centre suggests that the the massive increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women being sent to pre-trial detention for very low-level wrongdoing is the result of punitive changes made to Victoria’s bail laws by the Andrews Government.
Do you fear us? Why else does a 10-year-old Aboriginal kid need to be caged? — The Age, 28 July 2020
Following the recent decision by the Attorney-General to not increase the age of criminal responsibility, Isaiah Sines, a Dhungatti man from Kempsey with ties to the Wiradjuri people, and Terleaha Williams, a Kamilaroi and Yuin teenage woman, question whether it is fear of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that has led to children as young as ten being imprisoned.
Victoria to set up Australia's first truth and justice commission to recognise wrongs against Aboriginal people — The Guardian, 11 July 2020
The truth and justice process will be designed and led by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, and will work in parallel with the treaty process currently under way.
Rio Tinto must be stripped of prestigious human rights ranking in light of Juukan Gorge destruction: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and human rights organisations — Human Rights Law Centre, 9 July 2020
Thirty-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and human rights organisations have called on the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark to strip Rio Tinto of its status as a global human rights leader, following the company’s blasting of the caves at Juukan Gorge, a 46,000 year old Aboriginal sacred site in the Pilbara region, Western Australia.
Disability in the Bush app aims to make NDIS more accessible in remote communities — ABC News, 29 June 2020
Ninti One and the Interplay Project have developed a free app that enables residents in remote communities to access vital information regarding the NDIS.
We need to go beyond empty gestures if we're going to end Aboriginal deaths in custody — The Guardian, 29 June 2020
Solutions to end Aboriginal deaths in custody have existed for almost three decades. Cheryl Axleby and Nerita Waight, both CEOs of Aboriginal legal services, call on Australians to create meaningful change by urging their politicians to implement these solutions.
'These aren't random events': calls grow for greater police accountability over Indigenous arrests — The Guardian, 28 June 2020
Following reports of three incidents in June where police were filmed using allegedly excessive force to detain and arrest young Indigenous men, legal experts call for independent investigations of police conduct.
‘Aboriginal children deserve better’: Chair of a damning review calls for urgent action — UNSW Newsroom, 27 June 2020
Professor Megan Davis, author of a 2019 independent review of Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care, says the government needs to implement the review's recommendations and announce the way forward.
Unpaid fines law reforms prompted by death in custody of Ms Dhu pass WA Parliament — ABC News, 17 June 2020
A new law has been passed in Western Australia that will make imprisonment for fine defaulters a last resort, and only able to be ordered by a magistrate.
The law was implemented following the 2014 death of Yamatji woman Ms Dhu, who died in custody after being imprisoned for three days for unpaid fines totalling $3,622.
NSW police disproportionately target Indigenous people in strip searches — The Guardian, 16 June 2020
Between 2016 and 2018, Indigenous Australians represented 12% of all strip searches in NSW , despite making up only 3% of the state's population.
#BlackLivesMatter and the role of Legal Observers at demonstrations — Community Legal Centres NSW, 11 June 2020
Nassim Arrage, CEO of Community Legal Centres Australia, recounts his experience as a Legal Observer at the Black Lives Matter/Stop Deaths In Custody demonstration in Sydney on 6 June 2020.
Plan to keep Aboriginal Australians out of jail, as Indigenous leaders hope change will come — ABC News, 11 June 2020
In a matter of weeks, for the first time in its history, it is expected Australia will have a set of proposed Indigenous justice targets under the revised national Closing the Gap agreement.
But with only a handful of the original Closing the Gap targets ever being achieved, will these new targets work?
NSW police pursue 80% of Indigenous people caught with cannabis through courts — The Guardian, 10 June 2020
Between 2013 and 2017, police in NSW pursued more than 80% of Indigenous people found with small amounts of cannabis through the courts while letting others off with warnings, forcing young Aboriginal people into a criminal justice system that legal experts say they will potentially never get out of.
Megan Davis says there is growing support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament — 7:30 Report, 8 June 2020
The Black Lives Matter protests have brought the broader issues of Indigenous rights to the fore again: particularly the issue of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Laura Tingle interviews Professor Megan Davis, a constitutional lawyer who was at the centre of drafting the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
‘There cannot be 432 victims and no perpetrators…’ — The Saturday Paper, 6 June 2020
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing in the US, Australia can no longer ignore our brutal legacy of police violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Despite 432 Indigenous deaths in custody since 1991, no one has ever been convicted. Racist silence and complicity are to blame — The Conversation, 3 June 2020
Many Australians know more about police and prison violence in the US than in Australia. Alison Whittaker explores the reasons behind our 'curious silence' on First Nations deaths in custody in Australia.
For First Nations people, coronavirus has meant fewer services, separated families and over-policing: new report — The Conversation, 27 May 2020
A new report released by Change the Record highlights numerous ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been disproportionately affected by policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reconciliation Week highlights how Indigenous injustice links to global fault lines — ABC News, 25 May 2020
Australia is in the crosshairs of a global ideological struggle between authoritarianism and liberalism. The historical injustice and the ongoing rights claims of First Nations people form part of these global fault lines, writes Stan Grant.
COVID-19 travel restrictions have seen many Aboriginal people return to their homeland communities.
However, though they may be protected from the coronavirus, decades of systematic underinvestment in the critical infrastructure of Indigenous communities ironically puts their human rights at risk.
Queensland Government under fire for delaying Indigenous coronavirus rapid testing — ABC News, 15 May 2020
The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council has hit out at the Queensland Government for 'stalling' on rapid coronavirus testing machines in remote Indigenous communities.
Coronavirus laws discriminate against Indigenous Australians, communities say — ABC News, 14 May 2020
Residents in Queensland's Indigenous communities are protesting against 'discriminatory' coronavirus laws that prevent them from fishing for food, attending school, and leaving to buy essential items.
Justice in remote NT bush courts is 'grinding to a halt', legal group says — ABC News, 27 April 2020
Bush courts in the Northern Territory have been suspended as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions to remote communities. Lawyers believe that this will impact access to justice for remote Indigenous communities, even after restrictions are lifted.
COVID urgency and calls for release — @IndigenousX, 21 April 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a raft of laws passed across Australia, aimed at reducing the serious risk the virus poses. However, Dr Hannah McGlade believes that they actually increase risk to Aboriginal people who already face discrimination and racial profiling by the justice sector.
'How are prisons going to cope?': Fears for Indigenous inmates amid coronavirus outbreak — SBS News, 9 April 2020
The sister of Nathan Reynolds, an Indigenous man who died of an asthma attack in custody, has warned that Australia's prison system will not be able to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tanya Day inquest: coroner refers death in custody of Aboriginal woman for possible prosecution — The Guardian, 9 April 2020
Caitlin English, the coroner investigating the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day, has referred the case to the Office of Public Prosecutions to determine whether criminal negligence has occurred.
The ripple effects of COVID-19 on Indigenous family and domestic violence — UNSW Newsroom, 31 March 2020
Dr Kyllie Cripps warns that recent legislation to protect against COVID-19 does not adequately consider the impact on Indigenous victims of family and domestic violence.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services call on the Prime Minister for early release from prison and other urgent measures to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID-19 in the justice system — NATSILS, 23 March 2020
In this media release, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) has urged the Prime Minister, Attorney General and all levels of state and territory governments to take immediate action to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison.
How the Acknowledgment of Country became a core national custom — and why it matters — ABC News, 18 March 2020
Joey Watson explores how the Acknowledgment of Country has become a core national custom in a little over 20 years.
Being Aboriginal with a disability a 'double whammy', royal commission told — The Guardian, 24 February 2020
Narelle Reynolds, a Wiradjuri woman who is the full-time carer for two adult sons with intellectual disabilities, tells the Disability Royal Commission of how she has been forced into homelessness because of a lack of culturally appropriate services available for their specific needs.
Constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians must involve structural change — UNSW Newsroom, 18 February 2020
In this opinion article, Megan Davis explains why symbolic recognition is not enough to enact meaningful change for Indigenous Australians.
Indigenous Youth Throughcare: Corrections to Community — Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse, 18 February 2020
The National Aboriginal Australian Agency and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency discuss the best-practice model that was developed for Indigenous Youth Throughcare and its implementation in the Northern Territory.
High Court rules Indigenous people cannot be deported as aliens, but the fight for legal recognition remain — The Conversation, 11 February 2020
Kate Galloway and Melissa Castan explain the landmark High Court case that found that Aboriginal Australians cannot be deported if they are not citizens, as well as the impact of this decision on Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal youth detained at 23 times the rate of non-Indigenous kids, report shows — SBS News, 23 January 2020
The Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2020 has found that Aboriginal youth are detained at 23 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians in the youth justice system.
Opinion: I'm A 13-Year-Old Aboriginal Boy, And This Is What I Told The “Boss Lady” Of The United Nations — Buzzfeed News, 15 January 2020
Dujuan Hoosan, who addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2019, writes about his meeting with ‘the boss lady of the United Nations’ and the future he wants for Aboriginal kids.
Three Shots, by Melinda Hinkson and Thalia Anthony — Arena, 3 December 2019
An essay on why police culture must be examined as part of investigating Kumanjayi Walker's death.
Disability Discrimination — ABC Radio, 24 November 2019
As the Disability Royal Commission enters its third week of hearings, First Nations advocates say it needs to address an increase in the criminalisation of disability.
David Dungay Inquest: Coroner finds inadequate medical attention the main factor of death — NITV, 22 November 2019
The inquest into the death in custody of 26-year-old Dunghutti man, David Dungay, concludes with recommendations that more training is needed for medical staff at Long Bay Prison Hospital.
In traditional language, there is no word for disability — The Guardian, 21 November 2019
Damian Griffis explains how Australia's disability system fails to listen to the voices of the people its trying to help, including First Peoples with disabilities.
Indigenous community launches lawsuit against NT Government over housing, uranium water issues — ABC News, 19 November 2019
Isabella Higgins examines some of the issues with housing that Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory are facing, including high levels of uranium in their water supply.
NSW changes protocols in attempts to help further protect Indigenous people in police custody — SBS, 15 November 2019
The NSW Government has extended its Custody Notification Service to ensure police call the hotline if they have taken an Indigenous person into protective custody for being intoxicated.
Kumunjayi Walker's death raises questions about policing in Aboriginal homes — ABC News, 14 November 2019
Following the death of 19-year-old Warlpiri man Kumunjayi Walker, Thalia Anthony explores the complex issue of policing and the use of force in Indigenous communities.
'My name is Tanya Louise Day': Family's final submission to coroner — The Age, 11 November 2019
A first person account of Tanya Day's experience with the justice system. Tanya sustained fatal injuries while in police custody. This account is written by her family.
The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery — The Guardian, 5 November 2019
Kylie Stevenson and Tamara Howie outline the challenges experienced by remote communities accessing the NDIS due to their particular needs related to their culture, environment and remoteness.
Family matters: Disturbing rise in Aboriginal kids removed from home — Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 2019
A study shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are now 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children.
The long road to Uluru: Walking together – truth before justice — Griffith Review 60: First Things First, 30 April 2018
If the Uluru Statement from the Heart was an example of the transformative potential of liberal democratic governance through civic engagement beyond the ballot box, the aftermath of Uluru revealed the limitations of Australian retail politics.