ILC e-Newsletter #11 July, 2013
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The past few months have been a very busy time for the ILC. In addition to publishing our regular journals, the Indigenous Law Bulletin (ILB) Australian Indigenous Law Review (AILR), we hosted our first Open Forum for 2014 and celebrated the success of our journals in a special launch event held in early June. 

We have received an overwhelming amount of support from the community since we announced the Federal Government's decision to cut all funding to the ILC. We would like to thank those who have written testimonials or donated; and are encouraging everyone to continue to support our important work. If you would like to send a testimonial please email:

In late June we farewelled our amazing Centre Co-ordinator, Dr Melanie Simpson. Melanie was with the Centre for over a year and has been a valued team member; she will certainly be greatly missed by us all!

We hope you enjoy our new e-newsletter format. For more news and updates, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter. 

- The ILC team



Open Forum: Proposed Changes to the Racial Discrimination Act

Bindi Cole Chocka and Tim Soutphommasane. Image by Joseph Mayer

The ILC would like to thank our panellists and guests who joined us for our Open Forum on the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act held at UNSW on Wednesday 4 June. 

A panel of experts including Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane; Sydney barrister Dr Sarah Pritchard SC; and Indigenous artist Bindi Cole Chocka joined UNSW Professor of Law and Indigenous Law Centre Director, Prof Megan Davis to discuss the proposal, which seeks to remove sections 18C, D and E replacing them with a more limited prohibition. Read more...

A podcast of the forum is available on our website here. 

Above image of Ms Bindi Cole Chocka & Dr Tim Soutphommasane by Joseph Mayers.


Prof Megan Davis in New York for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

ILC Director, Professor Megan Davis, attended the Thirteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UN PFII) in her role as UN Expert Member. The theme of the 13th session, held in May, was: “Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP): articles 3 to 6 and 46”. 

Professor Davis spoke on issues relating to the UNDRIP and customary international law and the development of an Optional Protocol for the UNDRIP. A prominent issue of the Forum was the situation of Crimean Tartar. Much of the meeting was also dominated by the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in 2014, which Professor Davis has been involved with and will attend this September. 

In addition, Professor Davis is leading a sub-committee of the PFII in its PFII reform agenda. This work entails in depth research and exploration of ways in which PFII can best achieve its UNGA mandate. Professor Davis is also developing an Indigenous Development Index based on the UNDP Human Development Index aimed at improving the measurement of the situation of Indigenous populations with UN states. An Indigenous Development Index is considered to be a more accurate measurement of the way Indigenous peoples actually live their lives. Professor Davis' doctoral thesis (supervised by Professor Hilary Charlesworth) considered the application of the capabilities approach to Indigenous rights. 

Above image by Andrzej Liguz & courtesy of UNSW Law.


Constitutional reform and Indigenous recognition 

Professor Davis has been continuing her work on Constitutional reform and recognition, presenting to the Chief Executives and Board Directors of Medicare Locals in April on the reasons for constitutional reform. In late June, Professor Davis and Henry Burmester QC AO presented the work of the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution to a packed lunchtime session for Australian Government Solicitors in Canberra. 

The interim report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has now been handed down. Professor Davis is cited extensively in the report alongside Professor George Williams who is co-author of a forthcoming UNSW Press publication of Constitutional Recognition.

In July Professor Davis was part of the Sydney City Talk event where Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz delivered a keynote address on the price of inequality. You can read more and watch the video here. 

Also in July Professor Davis delivered the Senate Occasional Lecture discussing competing notions of 'recognition'. In her speech, Professor Davis argued that "recognition" must entail substantive changes not mere symbolic gestures. Read more and watch the lecture online here.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, Richard Denniss, Adam Spencer, Prof Joseph Stiglitzand, Dr Tim Soutphommasane and Prof Megan Davis in Sydney Town Hall. Image courtesy of City of Sydney.


Dr Leon Terrill presents paper at the University of British Columbia, Canada

In early May, Centre Fellow, Dr Terrill travelled to Vancouver to present a paper at the annual conference of the Association for Law, Property and Society, which this year was held at the University of British Colombia.

Dr Terrill’s paper, called ‘The Invisible Hand? Clarifying the Role of Government in Aboriginal Land Tenure Reform’, described how the language used to debate Aboriginal land reform in Australia has concealed the increasing role played by governments in community land use.

Dr Terrill presented as part of a panel with Jessica Shoemaker (pictured left) from the University of Nebraska. The panel was chaired by Associate Professor Maureen Tehan from Melbourne University (pictured centre). 


Centre Associate Lauren Butterly presents at World Indigenous Legal Conference 

UNSW PhD Candidate and ANU Associate Law Lecturer, Lauren Butterly, presented on Sea Country governance at the recent World Indigenous Legal Conference in Brisbane.

Lauren's presentation provided an informative and lively account of the mechanisms of sea country governance and posed some important questions about the past, present and future of decision-making about Sea-Country. She also noted that the long fight for recognition of rights in the High Court 'Akiba' case serves as a reminder that the sea is an integral part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Lauren is a Centre Associate of the ILC and Editorial Panel member of the ILB. The ILC wishes Lauren well as she continues her PhD research. 


AILR Editor Marie Iskander back from The Hague

The ILC would like to congratulate our Australian Indigenous Law Review (AILR) Editor, Marie Iskander (second on the right) on making it to the semi-finals of the International Criminal Court moot competition in The Hague.

Marie and her team of fellow UNSW law students: Elizabeth Brown, Melissa Cork, Kara Grimsley and Mano Karthigeyan (pictured above) reached the final 7 of the 49 teams competing in the competition.

Their hard work and determination has clearly paid off, well done Marie! Read more...


Student News

The ILC has a strong internship program with UNSW Law and were joined by three JD (Juris Doctor) students in Semester 1. Caitlin Weatherby-Fell was our Social Justice intern, while Divyangana Dhankar was the ILB Student Editor and Tim Buckley the AILR Student Editor. 

Our interns worked on research on issues including changing bail laws in NSW, alcohol reforms in the NT and recent High Court cases; as well as editing journal articles and helping to organise our forum on the Racial Discrimination Act. 

This month we have also been joined by Cassi Bennett, an intern from the Aurora Project. Cassi has been assisting our ILB Editor with editing, research and admin work, and it has been a pleasure having her at the ILC!

Thank you to all of our interns for all of your hard work and enthusiasm. 

Image of ILC intern Caitlin Weatherby-Fell by Lucy Jackson.


Indigenous Law Bulletin


March/April 8(11)

In the March/April edition we focused on pathways for legal careers and how Indigenous law students can best be supported through these career paths. In addition to five articles on topics relating to young people, the issue featured a middle section titled: Paving the way: Indigenous leaders creating change in the legal world. This section featured the stories of some of Australia's leading Indigenous legal minds working across a broad range of areas from international diplomacy to academia.

The work of textile and graphic artist, Lucy Simpson was featured, a dynamic young Sydney-based artist. This edition was shared at the 'World Indigenous Legal Conference' 2014 in Brisbane and received great reviews from our readers. Read more here...

May/June 8(12)

The current edition of the ILB provides a comprehensive look at the Indigenous legal sector in wake of the 2014 Federal Budget. The edition’s feature article by Assoc Prof Andrew Gunstone, calls on the Victorian Government to urgently develop a compensation scheme for Indigenous people affected by stolen wages. This destructive practice by the government continues to persist and is an important issue for all Australians.

Our feature artist is Bindi Cole Chocka, a Melbourne-based photographer, curator and new media artist with Wadawurrung heritage. Bindi works to expose the questions most are afraid to ask with her powerful work. Read more here...

The upcoming issue of the ILB will be a thematic edition focusing on the Royal Commission inquiry into Institutional Responses into Child Sex Abuse. If you have not subscribed or need to renew your subscription you can do so online here. 


Australian Indigenous Law Review

The AILR is set to publish its thematic issue, issue 17(2) which is on 'Formal Equality, Substantive Equality and Special Measures'. This issue includes a range of contributions from respected Australian and international scholars and its aim is to cast a fresh light on issues pertaining to the differential treatment of Indigenous peoples under both Australian law as well as other jurisdictions.

Our next issue, issue 18(1) will be a combined general and thematic edition. The thematic section of the edition is on 'Indigenous Land Tenure Reform' and the purpose of this issue is to examine recent attempts at, and calls for land tenure reform on Indigenous land.

If you would like to submit an article (between 6,000-14,000 words, including footnotes) for the general issue, please email an abstract or brief summary of your topic to the Editor at:


Funding update

We would like to thank our supporters for their concerns about our funding situation. We are continuing to work with many people, including UNSW Law, to secure private funding to replace the funding cut by the Federal Government. We will update our supporters when we have good news to share.

We would also like to express our gratitude to those who have donated to the Centre, and encourage those who can to also donate via UNSW Foundation.

Donations $2 and over are tax-deductible in Australia and will go towards funding the ILB and AILR; as well as the publication of factual and easy to understand community legal education products such as research briefs, posters, open forums and other events.

In addition to donations, we also need testimonials from people who use the ILB or AILR. How has the ILB or AILR impacted your community, your work or your study?

Send your testimonial to: