Settler Colonialism is generally blind to Aboriginal people’s rights and the asserted legal basis for the transfer of property from Aboriginal People continues to be examined and challenged. Meanwhile Aboriginal Peoples must interact with current compliance frameworks, with hard won recognition of their rights and interests, but very little education, policy or practice which implements and upholds their spiritual and customary laws. This blindness undermines equality before the law, a crucial aspect of the rule of law.
South Coast Aboriginal People have had a longstanding resource conflict with the state over their customary fishing for Mutton fish and Lobsters, both of which are now important export fisheries. This conflict is experienced by South Coast People as a ‘criminalisation’ of their culture. A recent Report to the NSW Legislative Council found “[t]hat the compliance activity and prosecutions against Aboriginal people for practising cultural fishing, particularly on the South Coast of NSW, are unacceptable and creating perverse outcomes.” This seminar will examine the conflict of laws, their implementation and South Coast Aboriginal Peoples’ agency in ensuring their customary rights are afforded equal weight in the NSW legal system.
About the speaker:
Kathryn Ridge Llb BSc is a practising human rights and environmental lawyer and Graduate Researcher at UTS Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledge.