Aboriginal customary laws : final report : the interaction of Western Australian law with Aboriginal law and culture


This Final Report is intended to be read in conjunction with the Commission’s earlier Discussion Paper which provides greater detail in respect of the Commission’s initial consultation findings, its research and analysis. Departing somewhat from the Discussion Paper structure, the first four chapters of the Final Report are of a general nature. Chapter One addresses some of the misconceptions about the reference, and about Aboriginal customary law generally, that have featured in media debates since the release of the Commission’s Discussion Paper; Chapter Two outlines some guiding principles for reform that are applicable across all areas of the reference; Chapter Three summarises issues raised in the Discussion Paper about the state of Aboriginal disadvantage in Western Australia and the Commission’s consultation findings; and Chapter Four discusses methods of and barriers to recognition of Aboriginal customary laws in this state. These chapters are followed by specific chapters which address the interaction between Aboriginal law and culture and Western Australian law in defined areas: Chapter Five deals with the criminal justice system; Chapter Six with the civil law system; Chapter Seven with family law and family violence; Chapter Eight with customary harvesting of natural resources; Chapter Nine with evidence and court procedure; and Chapter Ten with Aboriginal community governance in Western Australia. The Commission’s final recommendations to Parliament follow a brief discussion of the issues within each section and also feature in Appendix A to this Report. Where submissions received overwhelmingly supported the Commission’s original proposals, discussion of the issues is limited. Those wishing to read a more detailed explanation of the arguments or research supporting the Commission’s conclusions may do so by turning to the page of the Discussion Paper indicated in accompanying footnotes. Where submissions have disputed the Commission’s original proposals, where new research has come to light or where new issues have arisen, a more detailed explanation for the Commission’s final recommendations or findings is provided. For the purposes of assisting the Western Australian government in the timely implementation of the 131 recommendations contained in this Final Report, the Commission has identified departmental and/or agency responsibility for the implementation of each recommendation. This important information is provided in Appendix B to this Report. (Introduction, edited.)

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