Anglo/Aboriginal communication in the criminal justice process : a collective responsibility


The main players involved in the administration of criminal justice in respect of Indigenous people of a non-English speaking background effectively combine to prop up a dysfunctional system where unrecognised miscommunication is pervasive and insidious, resulting in many Aboriginal defendants being unfairly disadvantaged in police interviews, in instructing counsel, in giving evidence and in understanding trial proceedings. Many do not acknowledge barriers to communication or do not seek to adequately address them. Some seek to exploit miscommunication for tactical reasons. The use of interpreters does not solve the problem when they are inadequately trained or skilled for legal interpreting. Police, lawyers, courts, interpreter providers and interpreter trainers contribute to and tolerate dysfunctional communication – often with good intentions. While strategies are suggested to improve communication, resolution ultimately requires courts insisting that miscommunication issues are redressed before proceeding with trials. (Abstract.)