Aboriginal Women and Constitutional Reform

Chief Investigator:

Professor Megan Davis

Research Associate: Brenda Gunn

One of the recent studies, embarked on by the Indigenous Law Center is directed at examining the political status of Aboriginal women in Australian liberal democracy, through a comparative analysis with the experience of Aboriginal women in Canada. Since the 1970s, Aboriginal women in Canada have engaged with the Constitution and have mobilized to ensure the protection of Indigenous rights and equality rights. This study will attempt to elucidate how constitutional reform and the constitutional recognition of rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has impacted the lives of Aboriginal women in Canada, and what lessons can drawn from this and applied to the situation of Aboriginal women in Australia.

This study is particularly relevant in relation to current discussion of constitutional reform in Australia and in the wake of the Northern Territory Intervention report. However, the current discourse on Indigenous rights tends to focus on the collective rights of Indigenous people, not the individual rights of Aboriginal women, therefore failing to acknowledge the difficulty Aboriginal women face in influencing public policy. This study will hopefully help to show how the state impacts Aboriginal women uniquely, and the importance of including Aboriginal women in the consultative process for constitutional reform.

This project is currently still in its initial research stage, but the experience of Aboriginal women in Canada is proving to be an insightful comparative case study for Australia.

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