University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series
Last Updated: 27 October 2012
Putting Indigenous Issues into the Curriculum: Succession and Equity
Prue Vines, University of New South Wales
paper is available for download at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2167119
This article was published in the (2012) 4 Ngiya: talk the law. This paper may also be referenced as  UNSWLRS 49.
The paper argues that there are reasons to put Indigenous people’s issues ahead of other groups such as ethnic groups or other disadvantaged groups in the law curriculum, and that even if all disadvantage fell away we should still be teaching Indigenous issues in every subject. The fact that the Indigenous people of Australia created a legal and cultural landscape into which all the rest of us came is important and gives us access to a continuing cultural construct of matchless richness. I also argue there are some fundamental techniques for considering Indigenous issues in the legal curriculum, including rules of interaction in the classroom and rules of authority such as expecting students to sue culturally appropriate parameters for authoritative information. In the same way that the High Court of Australia is the highest source of mainstream legal authority, so the statements made by particular Elders will be more authoritative on certain subjects than those made by other people. The paper then goes on to set out some ways of considering Indigenous issues in areas of law not often thought of as giving rise to such issues – the areas of equity and in particular, succession law . The paper ends by discussing some principled techniques of teaching to be used when dealing with Indigenous issues. A classroom and subject matter based on academic rigour in relation to rules of respect for cultural difference based on a comparative approach rather than an emphasis on disadvantage seems the most useful way to consider these issues.