Indigenous Law Centre

The Indigenous Law Centre, part of the Law Faculty at the University of New South Wales develops and coordinates research, teaching and information services in the multi-disciplinary area of Indigenous peoples and the law. The Centre publishes two major journals the Australian Indigenous Law Review and the Indigenous Law Bulletin.


The Indigenous Law Centre was previously the Aboriginal Law Research Unit which was established at University of New South Wales on 23 April, 1981. The origins however go back to early 1970 when the first Aboriginal legal service was established. Professor Hal Wootten was its first President and he operated the ALS from the UNSW Law School in its early years. When the Whitlam Government funded Aboriginal Legal Services, the ALS's found their time taken up with criminal representation and had no time for law reform advocacy. Thus UNSW Faculty of Law members found themselves still being contacted to give advice on legal issues such as land rights claims, environment law and administrative law matters. A small group of academics – Professor Garth Nettheim, Richard Chisholm, Pat O'Shane and Neil Rees established a "back-up centre" or legal research centre that could assist the frontline Aboriginal Legal services and Aboriginal Land Councils. Thus in 1986 the Aboriginal Law Research Unit became the Aboriginal Law Centre. The ILC has worked with the Indigenous community and has been involved in High Court cases such as Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen,[1] Mabo v Queensland (No 2),[2] and international indigenous rights advocacy such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


The Indigenous Legal Centre publishes two journals:

  • The Australian Indigenous Law Review
  • The Indigenous Law Bulletin


The Indigenous Law Centre undertakes research in a number of areas:

Public lawEdit

  • Focusing on legal issues related to the recognition of Indigenous rights and constitutional reform; extra parliamentary representation of Indigenous peoples; critical engagement with the idea of a bills of rights; legislative developments affecting Indigenous rights; native title and land rights; stolen wages; "democracy" and Indigenous peoples; intellectual property reform; the nexus between public law reform and health; human rights impact of climate change on Indigenous communities.

International lawEdit

  • Focusing on Indigenous legal issues in international law; United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Indigenous peoples advocacy at the UN; UN human rights treaties, treaty bodies and indigenous specific jurisprudence; Convention on the Rights of the Child and Indigenous children; Indigenous peoples, trade and WTO; Indigenous peoples and WIPO.

Women and Australian democracyEdit

  • A study of how Indigenous women fare in contemporary democracies, in particular Aboriginal women in Australian democracy; Indigenous women's issues and Australian public institutions; Aboriginal women, human rights and aboriginal law; Indigenous women and the right to self-determination; Indigenous women and extra-parliamentary representative structures.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen [1982] HCA 27, (1982) 153 CLR 168 (11 May 1982), High Court
  2. ^ Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992] HCA 23, (1992) 175 CLR 1 (3 June 1992), High Court

Coordinates: 33°55′01″S 151°13′40″E / 33.91694°S 151.22778°E / -33.91694; 151.22778