Criminology, Criminal Justice and Indigenous People: A Dysfunctional Relationship?
The John Barry Memorial Lecture, Public Lecture, Laby Theatre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2008
Posted: 5 Feb 2009
Date Written: November 26, 2008
The Apology to the Stolen Generations by Prime Minister Rudd and the Australian Parliament heralded a new beginning in relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However at the same time the broader Australian community is frequently confronted with stories of violence against women and child abuse among Aboriginal people. Crime and dysfunction are seen as pressing problems requiring strong government action. Often the discipline of criminology reinforces the view that the problems reside in the Indigenous population, and, typically, dysfunction is not associated with the justice system itself.
The lecture will look at issues of crime and violence in Indigenous communities in the context of the broader failures of criminal justice law, policy and practice. In particular the lecture will address three points: the problem the legal system has in ensuring protection of Indigenous women in the context of domestic and family violence; the problem criminal justice agencies have in developing strategic policies that change the way they do business with Indigenous people; and, the problem that Indigenous people have in using the legal system to protect and enhance their own interests and rights, particularly in the area of civil law. The question posed is whether the institutional barriers to fairness and justice are of such magnitude that they can be usefully seen as institutional discrimination.
Keywords: Apology, Stolen Generations, Criminology, Indigenous
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation