National Reconciliation Week

Date & time
12.30–2pm Thursday 1 June 2017

Law Link Theatre

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University

Nicole Harman

Presented by the Centre for International and Public Law

Panel discussion
National reconciliation week

The Centre for International and Public Law is proud to host a panel discussion during National Reconciliation Week. Each panel member will speak on an aspect of their research that affects Indigenous communities.


  • Kate Falconer »

    Kate Falconer is a PhD candidate within the ANU College of Law undertaking research on private law mechanisms for the repatriation of indigenous human remains from overseas institutions. Kate graduated from the University of Queensland in 2015 with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology. In 2016 she completed her LLM in US Law at Washington University in St Louis with a focus on indigenous and international law.

  • Dr Anthony Hopkins »

    Anthony Hopkins is a criminal defence barrister in the ACT and a Senior Lecturer at the ANU College of Law. He began his career as a lawyer working at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service in Alice Springs. Anthony’s teaching and research interests include a focus on why it is essential that particular attention be paid to the historical and contemporary experience of Indigenous Australians at all stages of the criminal justice process.

  • Professor Margaret Thornton »

    Margaret Thornton is Professor of Law at the ANU. She is an expert in Discrimination and the Law, having taught and published in the area for more than 30 years. Financial support for her research included an ARC professorial fellowship.

  • Mary Spiers Williams »

    Mary Spiers Williams is a lecturer at the ANU College of Law. She has broad range of experience in criminal law and criminology research, teaching, practice, policy and advocacy. Her research is on impacts of state law on Indigenous peoples and the phenomenon of transnational law. Her doctoral research is concerned with legal concepts of culture in sentencing law in the Northern Territory.

  • Associate Professor Asmi Wood »

    Asmi Wood’s current research and publications have centred around two main topics; firstly, Constitutional recognition of Indigenous people in Australia and secondly, Indigenous Participation in Higher Education. The Australian Parliament, both Committees and individuals, Government agencies, community organisations, schools and Indigenous groups have all used Asmi’s research to clarify key issues among staff, invited Asmi to speak at their public events and make contributions to their literature. His research has included policy papers, law reform submissions and articles or chapters in journals and books. Asmi has presented several keynote addresses to large conferences interested in Indigenous issues including on issues such as ‘recognition’.

  • Kristen Zornada »

    Kristen Zornada is a policy lawyer for the Law Council of Australia in Canberra, focusing on issues relevant to human rights and criminal law. She has previously worked at Clayton Utz in Sydney, as an Associate to Justice Melissa Perry, as a lawyer for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia, and tutored at Bond Law School and Adelaide Law School. Her presentation topic was the subject of her thesis at Harvard Law School, where she recently completed a masters in law.

Past Sessions

Panel session

12.30pm to 2.00pm Thursday 1 June 2017

Property, Private International Law, and Repatriation

Kate Falconer

The research behind this presentation focuses on how private law, both domestically and internationally, can facilitate the return of Indigenous human remains (IHR) from overseas colonial institutions. It first looks to Australian domestic law and the role of property concepts in establishing ownership claims over IHR, and then asks if private international law norms will allow these ownership claims to be recognised and enforced by overseas forum courts.

Taking Indigenous Experience into Account in Sentencing: Facing the Evidentiary Challenge

Dr Anthony Hopkins

Though we know that Indigenous Australians as a group are subject to significant social and economic disadvantages, the High Court has made clear that to ‘recognise this is to say nothing about a particular [Indigenous] offender’ (Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 37 at [41]). Whilst there can be little doubt that this is a correct statement of law in the context of the individualised sentencing process, it fails to recognise the challenge presented for Indigenous offenders. That challenge is to provide evidence connecting their story to the story of their people. Anthony argues that the post-colonial state should accept the moral and financial burden of ensuring this evidence is presented during the sentencing process, adopting an approach taken in Canada.

How Race Discrimination Legislation legitimates Racism

Professor Margaret Thornton

This presentation shows how anti-discrimination legislation is capable of addressing only overt acts of race discrimination, not the racism buried deep within the social psyche. The recent free speech debate and its aftermath are exemplary. 

Thinking about the way we think about ‘law’

Mary Spiers Williams

Law has been instrumental in the colonisation and ongoing colonisation of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Law has been described as the ‘cutting edge of colonisation’ (Chanock 1985). Practitioners and policy makers trained in state law often struggle to understand and ameliorate the negative impacts of state law on Indigenous people. Mary will discuss the importance of finding alternative ways to make sense of state law and its interrelation with other legal orders, in order to find its emancipatory potential for Indigenous people.

Options for constitutional change: recognition or Treaty?

Associate Professor Asmi Wood

Asmi will argue that constitutional recognition is perhaps the better option at present than is a treaty. This is because recognition in the Constitution is contingent on an Anglo-Australian legal process that unilaterally recognises Indigenous people. A common Treaty with the Commonwealth on the other hand gains recognition but would require legal concessions on the part of Indigenous people.  Further a treaty requires a common agreement between many Indigenous groups as to its legal content and this is something that is better negotiated over time and with great care (i) if the mistakes of the past are to be avoided and (ii) to ensure that the hands of future generations are not bound by the limitations of the present.

It's no one section, it’s the vibe of the thing: constitutional space, race and the curious case of multicultural Australia

Kristen Zornada

The presentation will examine how Australia's insistence on viewing itself through the lens of multiculturalism means proposals for constitutional recognition will always struggle to recognise what is really required to make meaningful reparation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for colonial injury.


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