Research in the Faculty of Law, UNSW on Indigenous Legal Issues

Professor Kathy Bowrey

  • The politics of cultural rights
  • Traditional knowledge and intellectual property
  • Intellectual property and colonialism

Sean Brennan

  • The intersection of public law with Indigenous legal issues, including in relation to a treaty/treaties, the National Human Rights Consultation, and constitutional recognition and change
  • Indigenous property rights: native title and land rights, including recent  common law developments and flagged statutory changes
  • Regulation of substance abuse in the Northern Territory, especially alcohol regulation, and potential reform to ‘supply side’ measures

Louise Buckingham, PhD Candidate

  • Governance institutions (international and domestic levels – legal and cultural) concerning the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions;
  • Indigenous peoples’ organisation internationally; international institutional responses to Indigenous peoples’ organisation;
  • Colonialism

Associate Professor Anna Cody

  • The role of clinical legal education in effective support and education of Indigenous law students
  • Community development and organisation in Indigenous communities in Mexico around the right to water
  • Appropriate legal responses to the needs of the Stolen Generations

John Corker, Director, National Pro Bono Resource Centre

  • The role of Aboriginal media in society
  • How the Aboriginal Legal Service can best be helped by pro bono legal assistance

Kyllie Cripps

  • Sexual assault and family violence in Australian Indigenous communities

Conjoint Professor Chris Cunneen

  • The Australian Prisons Project: this researches the growth and development of prisons in recent years; Indigenous‐specific aspects include research into Indigenous people’s experiences of the prison system, and the development of Indigenous‐specific prisons
  • ARC funded Linkage Project (with Larissa Behrendt and Melanie Schwartz): the civil and family law needs of Indigenous people 

Professor Megan Davis

  • The comparative treatment of Aboriginal women in Australian and Canadian liberal democracies, in light of public institutions and constitutional reform
  • The experiences of Indigenous women and children of the criminal justice system, particularly in relation to sexual assault
  • Constitutional reform options for Indigenous peoples
  • A ‘civics and law’ education guide for Aboriginal communities (Commonwealth Attorney‐General’s Department funded project)
  • Indigenous peoples and international law: the effectiveness of United Nations forums for Indigenous peoples’ legal advocacy; Expert Commentary on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (with International Law Association); and coauthorship of a text on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Indigenous peoples, the World Trade Organization and international trade (with the UN Research Institute for Social Development)
  • The use of Aboriginal customary law in the courts: research and database (with NSW Aboriginal Legal Service)

Associate Professor Andrea Durbach, Director, Australian Human Rights Centre

  • Reparations for the Stolen Generations, in the context of international developments (South Africa, Canada, New Zealand), reconciliation, and proposals for statutory reparations at the federal level

Professor Jill Hunter

  • General research in the exercise of police powers, the prosecution process and the conduct of criminal trials, which includes an analysis of these processes on Indigenous people
  • Co‐authorship of a textbook on these issues

Melanie Schwartz

  • (With Chris Cunneen): contract research for NSW Legal Aid Commission into the civil and family law needs of Indigenous communities
  • Work in the implications of unaddressed civil and family law needs for escalation to criminal law issues
  • 2010 ARC Linkage Grant (with Chris Cunneen and Larissa Behrendt) extending the legal needs research to four other jurisdictions (see
  • Research on the potential for justice reinvestment to reduce over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Research project on the experience of Indigenous students at UNSW Law

Leon Terrill

  • Land reform, particularly Aboriginal land reform in the Northern Territory
  • Aboriginal housing reforms and home ownership
  • Regulation of substance abuse in the Northern Territory, especially alcohol regulation, and potential reform to ‘supply side’ measures (with Sean Brennan)

Professor Prue Vines

  • Teaching Indigenous issues within the legal curriculum, and the need for effective approaches
  • Indigenous issues in relation to the coronial jurisdiction, including the impact of customary law on dealing with dead bodies, the conduct of autopsies, and burial
  • Indigenous issues in relation to inheritance and succession: community needs in relation to wills and succession, issues with the legal drafting of wills for Indigenous people (eg, kinship, art and copyright, equitable doctrines to protect certain kinds of customary law)


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