full paper available here
Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM & Richard Trudgen, 2011
The theme of this conference is “Law and Justice within Indigenous Communities”. But for there to be a real rule of law and true justice for our people, then the Law our people have assented to for thousands of years must be understood and recognised by all Australians. This will require an education and negotiation process between the Australian government and our Traditional Parliaments.
This morning I want to start that education by talking about our law that Yol?u people from north-east Arnhem Land have assented to for many generations.
First we must remember that in different regions across Australia other groups of first Australians (Aboriginal people) have their own law and I have no right to talk about their Law systems. Having said that, I must say that all the first Australian peoples have a common foundation of Law. This common foundation of Law still exists even where some of these peoples may have lost many elements of their particular Law. Even where they have lost most of the elements of their Law they still have a common foundation of law together with us and all other first Australians. It is the common law of this land that precedes all laws and systems of law. It does not matter how hard others try to deny and suppress this fact, we still have a common foundation of Law that has been practiced in this land since the beginning of human history.
However all of my comments this morning will refer to the traditional Law of the Yol?u people from north-east Arnhem Land of which I am first, a citizen, and second a political leader.