Three years on from the advent of the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 (Qld) this seminar reflects on the creation, administration and implementation of the Act as a common law statute which provides for the legal recognition of Ailan Kastom – and a definitive exemplar of legal pluralism in Australia. It will firstly discuss the process of legislative design which had a number of unique features, not least the leadership of the first Torres Strait Islander person elected to any parliament in Australia’s history. It will then look at the construction of the legislation itself and its operation through the establishment of the bespoke Office of the Commissioner Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa. Finally, it will reflect on the impact of the Act, giving consideration to the uptake in practice by Torres Strait Islander people of the cultural recognition orders and discuss if there is a need for legislative amendments to enhance the operation of the Act and promote the uptake of its processes by Torres Strait Islander families.
Dr Heron Loban is a Torres Strait Islander woman with family ties to Mabuyag and Boigu Islands. Heron has worked as a lawyer in Australia in commercial law, criminal law, native title, and cultural heritage for not-for-profit organisations and in-house for federal government agencies. As a lawyer, she has lived and worked across Australia from Canberra to the Torres Strait. Heron has also sat on numerous public and private advisory groups and boards of Indigenous and non-Indigenous not-for-profit corporations. In addition to her work as a lawyer, Heron has worked as an academic in the disciplines of law, criminology and humanities in universities across Australia. She is Australia’s leading socio-legal expert in Indigenous consumer protection having published numerous papers on the issue and provided expert evidence to Federal Court proceedings and Federal parliamentary enquiries.