Aboriginal youth and the criminal justice system
The Injustice of Justice?
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 1990
Online Publication Date:February 2012
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139084949.002
Subjects: Law: general interest
Aboriginal people have no reason to believe in the capacity of our legal systems to provide protection or justice, nor in the willingness or ability of the administrators of justice to act in an even-handed manner. As a result of European occupation of this country, the original owners have not only been dispossessed of their land but have also been mistreated by the very legal systems which were supposed to bring them enlightened forms of justice. Australia's adoption of British legal systems led to the false impression that justice would be administered in an equitable manner to all Australians. Yet the position of Aborigines before the law does not support this belief. In fact it casts doubt on many aspects of the judicial system as it operates in the lives of deprived or disadvantaged persons generally.
In two hundred years we have failed to come to grips with the essential causes of this injustice. As one Australian colony after another was occupied, official speeches full of idealism offered worthless promises to Aboriginal residents. In 1839, for example, Governor Gipps wrote:
As human beings partaking of our common nature — as the Aboriginal possessors of the soil from which the wealth of the country has been principally derived — and as subjects of the Queen, whose authority extends over every part of New Holland — the natives of the colony have an equal right with the people of European origin to the protection and assistance of the law of England (Public notice of Governor Gipps, N.S.W., 21 May 1839).