31 Ibid. Indigenouslawclassesinthecurriculumwasnotstraightforward, as there is a dearth of active research in this area generally, and a reliance on research-led teaching can limit the range of available Indigenousrelatedelectives.Additionally,inteachingICC,therecan betensionbetween theopportunity toengage indeeplearning ina smallnumberoftopicsandthetemptationtoprovideabroadsurvey of Indigenous peoples and theirinteractionswith thelaw.At present thereisinsufficientdata,orcollectiveexperience,togaugewhich is the better pedagogic approach in this context, or to identify an ICCstrand whichwouldfindfavour with students andworkwithin resourceconstraintsandtherequirementsofthebroaderpedagogy in the wide range of disciplines that cover all university courses, vocationalorotherwise.The ANULawSchoolapprovedaunitof studythatincludedthestudyofalimited numberoflegalareasin somedepth,reinforcedthroughresearch-basedassessmentitems andreflectiveexercises.Thisreflectedanappropriatecompromise in developing ICC using research-led teaching. AAim in Improving ICC The broader aim of the Law School is to promote ICC through independent learning in areas of law affecting Indigenous peoples. As with other elective units, the aim the unit is to achieve a deeper coverage ofsubject matter,building onthematerial covered inthe Priestley11andcompulsoryunits. ThecoverageofIndigenous materialsinPriestley11unitsiseitherlargelyincidentalorquitesmall. Available information generally appears to reinforce the perception thatIndigenouspeoplearestatisticallyunderrepresentedineducation, employment and goodhealth statistics andare over-represented in areas of petty crime, poor mental health, unemployment, sexual offences and homelessness.32 However, for a development of the understanding in the first limb of the ICC definition, students must internalisethefactthatmanyoftheseissuesareintergenerational andaresultofcircumstanceswhichhavetheirgenesisinIndigenous history.Thesedetrimentalconditionsarenotintrinsicallypermanent butnonethelesswillrequireimaginative solutionstoaddressinthe shortest possible time. Unless student understanding of the deeper issues is well-developed, their knowledge of Indigenous issues is likely to remain quite unsophisticated and shallow, and hence their proposed solutions likely to be limited — a symptom clearly visible inthebroaderpolity.Understandingtheseunderlyingissuesiscrucial indevelopingsustainableandfairsolutions. Thisunderstanding helps to contextualise the current situation for Indigenous peoples, which inturn will help students todevelop their competence inthe skills limb of the ICC definition. 32 UACC Report, above n 2, 32. Although not the only avenue for non-Indigenous people, ICC generallydevelopswithanappreciationofwhyandhowIndigenous people can feel alienated in an otherwise open, democratic and free society. ThestudyofIndigenousalienationcanbelinkedtoforced removalfromtraditionallandsandremovalofchildrenfromparents
12,000miles fromitshomeland, andtodosoforpurely economic and hegemonic purposes that nevertheless resulted in removal of Indigenous people from both their traditional lands and their families — a dispossessionthat is compounded by the simultaneous denigrationandrejectionofIndigenouspeoplesandtheirontologies. Understanding the associated dissonance that is often caused for Indigenous peoples by ‘isolated’, non-contextualised discussions of such legal concepts, including the legal fictions that are constructed to allow otherwise intelligent and caring Europeans to accept these notionsas‘right’and‘just’,isalsoanimportantpartofdeveloping knowledgeandunderstandingwithinthemeaningofthefirstlimbof the ICC definition.
Theethicoftheclassistoacquiretheknowledgeandunderstanding requiredforreasonablelevelsofICCandthenknowinglytopromote the creation of substantive equality for Indigenous peoples by learning to accept Indigenous people and ways peoples as ‘truly equal’, and not because they have been assimilated.
What is evident is that a small cohort studying a limited number ofunitscannotsatisfyUA’saimofageneralacquisitionofICC.Itis howeverimportanttoassesswhetherthelimitednumberofstudents exposed to the unit will gain an adequate depth of understanding. Whatwillconstitute‘adequate’willdependupontheaimsofthe variousprograms.ForUA,itisthatstudentsareabletofollow itsguidelines;33 fortheANUunititistoenablestudentstoaccept Indigenousontologies‘astheyfindthem’andtoworktowardsthe creation of true equality including in the Constitution.
The broader separate question is: how will these methods be adjustedtocoveralargecohortoflawstudents,andeventuallyto all university students? Ordonewer more appropriate units need to bedevelopedtoachieveICCatagenerallevel?Thereisinsufficient dataattheANUtoanswerthesequestionsdefinitivelybutitappears evident that ICC must be included in all or at least the majority of thePriestley 11unitsandsomeclinicalunitsifalllawstudentsareto acquire this skill and attribute.
33 UACC Guiding Principles, above n 4, 6 8 B Substantive Content: IndigenousAustralians and the Law Unit TheANULawSchool’sapproachtoselectionofunitmaterial isonlyonesuchapproachtocontentdeterminationandissubject to the many constraints mentioned above.The unit commences withageneralandbroadintroductioncoveringsomegroundwork by examining the history of contact, Indigenous identity and the developmentofthenation.Indigenousperspectivesareintroduced tocomplementthecurrentwrittenAustralianlegalhistory,whichat present is significantly empty of Indigenous content, but is slowly evolvingtoincludesuchcontent.Thethreeothermajorcomponents of the unit are now examined, along with a rationale for inclusion.
Firstly,forthelaw,andtheteachingoflaw,arguablyakeyareais toexaminehow,whyandmoreimportantlywhetheritistruethatthe law permitted the exclusion of Indigenous people from the earliest daysofEnglishsettlementandthenthroughFederation.Thusthe studyofthe AustralianConstitutionanditsevolution,particularly theaspectsthatpermittedsuchexclusionareusefulcomponents of study. Further, that part of Constitutional law which covers the constitutional provisions which directly and indirectly affect or touchuponthelivesofIndigenouspeople arethusincluded inthe curriculum.
Secondly, while colonisation appears to have had a devastating impactonmanylandsandcivilisations,thetreatmentofAustralian Indigenouspeoplewasunique.Thisisprobablybecausethecolonists did not recognise or understand the complexities of Indigenous connections with their lands and its waters, and recognition of such connections did not occur at law until relatively recently.34