For many Indigenous peoples, Aboriginal law covers every aspect of their daily lives. This is true not just of Indigenous communities in remote locations but for many Aboriginal people who must constantly balance their responsibilities under Aboriginal law and tradition with expectations of Australian law and tradition. These laws, which regulate relations between people and between individuals and the community, are not seen as part of native title by most non-Indigenous people, especially the courts. But for Indigenous peoples, they are often inseparable.
Lowitja O'Donoghue, former ATSIC Chair, has argued:
'Customary law is an integral and inseparable part of Aboriginal culture. As such, it is as important to Aboriginal people as are traditional lands and heritage... Not only is the recognition of Aboriginal customary law an issue of pride, heritage and custom. It can also be, to communities, an issue of survival.'
Keywords: aboriginal law, ATSIC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, custom, indigenous Australians, O'Donaghue, Lowitja
Indigenous Customary Law Forum, 18 October 1995, AGPS Canberra 1996, p 58.
Author: Strelein, Lisa
Source: 'Customary Law as a Vehicle for Community Empowerment'