Love; Thoms – belonging, citizenship and identity

Date & time
1–2pm Wednesday 19 October 2022

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law, Building 7, Room 7.4.1.

Dr Lisa Strelein PSM
Craig Ritchie
College of Law Visitors Committee
6125 5375
ANU College of Law Visitor Seminar

Part of the ANU College of Law Visitors Seminar Series series

Dr Lisa Strelein

The 2020 High Court decision in Love v Commonwealth of Australia; Thoms v Commonwealth of Australia [2020] HCA 3 (Love; Thoms) concerned the scope of the Commonwealth’s Constitutional powers to make laws in relation to ‘aliens’.  The majority of the Court held that Aboriginal people cannot be defined as alien for the purposes of immigration and deportation laws. 

Beyond the technical implications for deportation law and practice, and the personal impact for the individuals involved, the decision struck a chord with many Indigenous people.  This is because the reasoning was founded on the notion that Aboriginal people belong to this land and cannot belong anywhere else in the world.

The decision speaks to identity. It demonstrates the courts developing understanding of foundational relationship Indigenous peoples have with their land and waters, after 30 years of native title.  It also seeks to articulate Australia’s identity as a colonial country and constitutional polity.

The relationship between the Australian Constitution and Indigenous peoples is fraught.  There is a question as to whether the courts inclusive interpretation of the ‘people’ that the Constitution serves sits well with our knowledge of the history of Indigenous peoples political exclusion, marginalisation and displacement.

This seminar, chaired by Craig Ritchie (AIATSIS), will outline the key findings of the High Court in Love; Thoms and recent interpretations by the Federal Courts.  Lisa will consider the and applications of the decision beyond simply an interpretation of the aliens power, in particular for the definition of Indigeneity in Australian law and the implications for native title and traditional owner corporations.


  • Dr Lisa Strelein PSM »

    Dr Lisa Strelein

    Dr Lisa Strelein PSM is a leading expert in native title and Indigenous rights in Australia.  Lisa has played a central role in Indigenous policy debates and reforms and has published widely over a 30 year career. Dr Strelein is Honorary Professor at the Australian National University College of Law and was previously the Executive Director of Research and Education at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Lisa’s academic contribution has been informed by her work with Indigenous peoples and organisations. Lisa was convenor of the National Native Title Conference, Australia’s leading Indigenous policy conference for 20 years. 

    Dr Strelein led the review and development of the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research and the development of the online cultural competency foundation course, Core Cultural Learning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

    Dr Strelein completed Bachelors degrees in Commerce and Law at Murdoch University and was awarded a PhD from ANU in 1998.  Dr Strelein was awarded a Public Service Medal in the 2020 Australian Honours list for her contribution to the cultural understanding of the public service and the native title debate.

  • Craig Ritchie »

    Craig Ritchie

    Craig Ritchie is an Aboriginal man of the Dhunghutti and Biripi nations and is the CEO at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Craig joined AIATSIS as Deputy CEO in April 2016, and formally appointed CEO in May 2017. Prior to this Craig has worked in other senior roles within the APS leading Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander higher education, higher education access & participation for people from low-SE backgrounds, and international student mobility. He was founding Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in ACT Government. Craig has extensive experience in the community sector, including as CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) - the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal community controlled health services. Craig is also the Australian Government representative on, and former Co-Chair of, UNESCO’s Global Taskforce for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

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