Areness through teaching indigenous issues in criminal



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INVOKING CULTURAL AWARENESS THROUGH TEACHING INDIGENOUS ISSUES IN CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
THALIA ANTHONY* AND MELANIE SCHWARTZ**

I INTRODUCTION DEVELOPING GRADUATE ATTRIBUTE OF CULTURAL AWARENESS IN TEACHING CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
A critical, contextual approach to the criminal law has always been the most appropriate way to teach students about crime. This now coheres with the pedagogical milieu of Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLOs) and graduate attributes, which requires law schools to go beyond legal doctrine and to delve into legal contexts and skills. Six Law TLOs are stipulated in the Australian Learning and Teaching Councils Bachelor of Laws Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement. These include the Knowledge TLO, which states that graduates should be able to demonstrate knowledge of ‘principles of values and justice’ and ‘broader contexts in which legal issues arise’; and the Thinking Skills TLO, which mandates that graduates be able to engage in critical analysis. These TLOs require students to learn about the differential impact of the law, including on culturally marginalised groups. In addition to TLOs, graduate attributes have been developed in a number of law faculties that set out more specific aspirational qualities, including cultural awareness, understanding cultural diversity, and understanding and appreciation

* Thalia Anthony is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney. The authors would like to thank Dorothea Anthony, Amanda Porter and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable beedback.

** Melanie Schwartz is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of New

South Wales.

1 Sally Kift, Mark Israel and Rachel Field, Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Project: Bachelor of Laws Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement (Australian Learning and Teaching Council, 2010).


of Indigenous legal issues.2 The University of Technology Sydneys Faculty of Law graduate attributes, for example, include the ability to

identify different perspectives, recognising difference as having inherent value;

recognise when bias, stereotyping and negative attitudes are manifesting in self and others;

understand how different legal systems handle diversity; and comfortably and empathically interact with people from diverse backgrounds.3

Similarly, the UNSW Law program objectives aim to have graduates understand and appreciate:
1 Legal knowledge in its broader contexts

2 Indigenous legal issues

3 Principles of justice and the rule of law.4
Therefore, an appreciation of how the law affects and accommodates diverse groups — in addition to being the only principled way to teach criminal law — is squarely required by TLOs and other desired graduate attributes.5

This article explores methods for incorporating Indigenous issues in the subject Criminal Law and Procedure (hereafter ‘Criminal Law’) to allow students to gain a greater understanding of cultural diversity, how it operates in the legal system, and the differential impact of the law on different groups. It draws on the authors’ experience in teaching Criminal Law at a number of universities in Sydney since 2006,6 and our use of current textbooks and other resources, in-class activities and assessment to enhance students’ understanding of Indigenous issues without compromising the core requirements of the Priestley 11.

Criminal Law is an obvious site for considering Indigenous issues given the stark interface between the criminal justice system and Indigenous Australians, but it is by no means the only one. Indeed, for students to gain a true understanding of the significance

2 See for example, University of Adelaide, Faculty of the Professions: Graduate Attributes 2007, Faculty of Law,
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