The Kimberley Aboriginal Justice Clinic is part of a collaboration between Kimberley Community Legal Services (‘KCLS’) in Western Australia and the ANU College of Law which aims to increase positive justice impacts by, for and with Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal people in the Kimberley are striving for social, economic, legal and political advancement and over 90% of the Kimberley is determined Native Title land. However, barriers to justice include extreme disadvantage, gross under-resourcing of non-profit legal services in the region and enormous lacks relating to law and justice across the cultural interface.
In this course student learning is driven by involvement in law in action justice work. The course is structured around students undertaking paralegal work at the KCLS Aboriginal Justice Clinic at the Law School. The clinic is incorporated real-time in the KCLS legal practice and students are supervised by KCLS lawyers. This is an immersive and challenging context for guided exploration about how law has been instrumentalized in relation to First Nations peoples, and the impacts. Also, whether and how laws, legal institutions and legal practice can become forces for empowerment.
The course includes consideration of substantive areas of law, public policy, and critical Indigenous legal theories and presents principles and concepts which are pressed by First Nations peoples in pursuit of justice, rights and empowerment. The course emphasises the voices, lived experiences and authority of Aboriginal people of the Kimberley and engages and supports students in exploring how theory works in step with practice and reflection.
Accordingly, students will complete a workshop program which incorporates familiarization with KCLS and the Hotdesk, key skills, self-care, cultural protocols, and the concepts of reflection, reflexivity, settler-colonialism, epistemic injustice and approaches to empowerment. Students also complete a minimum of 10 x 1 day (7 hour) paralegal sessions at the KCLS-ANU Hotdesk and assessments consisting of reflective case studies which critically explore readings and themes in the course, and a research paper related to themes in the course.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Critically analyse and reflect on concepts including, but not limited to, personal and societal legacies of colonialization, cultural security, and voice, and evaluate how self-determination can empower both Indigenous and non-indigenous people to improve social justice outcomes.
- Outline how the idea of epistemic injustice is being used to critique settler-colonial law in Australia and consider how this may be applied to critique legal education, legal practice and justice.
- Examine and discuss legal problems within substantive areas of law impacting on Aboriginal people in the Kimberley using doctrinal and social policy approaches and approaches applying critical Indigenous legal theories.
- Identify and critically analyse a range of legal practice approaches and collaborative actions, having regard to an ethos of service and the wishes, interests and rights of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
- Design, plan, collaborate on and complete a research-based project relating to an aspect of law, justice or legal education as it impacts on Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
- Hotdesk Clinic paralegal work of 10 x 7-hr days (mandatory) worked at a minimum pace of 1 day / week for semester long courses and 2 days / week for winter and summer session courses. Total, about 70 hrs. (NCN) (0) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
- Workshop attendance and participation (mandatory). Orientation and topic focused. About 8 -12 hours in total e.g. for semester long courses 4 x 2 hr workshops and for winter and summer session courses 2 x 4 hr workshops. (NCN) (0) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
- Reflective case study 15% (600 words). Due end of week 3 for semester long courses and end of week 2 for winter and summer session courses. (15) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Reflective case study 15% (600 words). Due end of week 6 for semester long courses and end of week 4 for winter and summer session courses. (15) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Reflective case study 15% (600 words). Due end of week 10 for semester long courses and end of week 6 for winter and summer session courses. (15) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Research Project (2,200 words max). Due on date to be advised not earlier than 2 weeks after completion of the Hotdesk Clinic paralegal work component. (55) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
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The course involves about 150 hours of study i.e. about 70 hours of independent study and about 80 contact hours. The independent study includes researching, reading, thinking and writing for assessable work. The contact hours consist of:
- 8-12 hours of workshop participation during the course e.g. 4-6 x 2 hours for semester long courses and 2-3 x 4 hours for winter and summer sessions,
- 2 hours of individual or small group contact (e.g. regarding research papers, progress, coaching), times arranged within business hours usually via Skype or similar, and
- 70 hours of paralegal engagement at the KCLS ANU Hotdesk (10 x 7-hour days).
Requisite and Incompatibility
You will need to contact the ANU Law School to request a permission code to enrol in this course.
Patrick Dodson, Foreword in Mandy Yap and Eunice Yu, Community Wellbeing from the Ground Up: A Yawuru Example (2016), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Report 3/16
State Coroner RV C Fogliani, Inquest Findings, Inquest into the deaths of Thirteen Children and Young Persons in the Kimberley Region, Western Australia, (Coroner’s Court of Western Australia, 7 February 2019)
Allan Ardill, 'Non-Indigenous Lawyers Writing About Indigenous People: Colonisation in practice' (2012) 37(2) Alternative Law Journal 107.
Maggie Brady, ‘Law reforming lawyers and aboriginal social controls: The case of the Western Australian Aboriginal Communities Act’ (2013) 17(1) Australian Indigenous Law Review 38.
Marcelle Burns, 'Towards growing Indigenous culturally competent legal professionals in Australia' (2013) 12(1) The International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives 226
Mick Dodson, ‘From 'Lore' to 'Law': Indigenous Rights and Australian Legal Systems’, (1995) 20 (1), Alternative Law Journal, 2
Kim Mahood, 'Kartiya are like Toyotas: White workers on Australia’s cultural frontier ' (2012) 36 Griffith Review 43.
Martin Nakata, 'The Cultural Interface' (2007) 36 Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 7
Nicole Watson, 'Indigenous People in Legal Education: Staring into a Mirror without Reflection' (2005) 6(8) Indigenous Law Bulletin 4
Irene Watson, 'Buried alive' (2002) 13(3) Law & Critique 253
Mandy Yap and Eunice Yu, ‘Community Wellbeing from the Ground Up: A Yawuru Example’ (2016), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Report 3/16
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