: Alternative Law Journal - An Australian referreed law journal

Alternative Law Journal:
an Australian, refereed law journal

Welcome to the Alternative Law Journal! Here you can sample our journal with free previews (under the ‘News & Views’ menu). To purchase the full journal — with our signature mix of legal news, opinions, articles, as well as regular columns, art and cartoons — please visit our subscription page.

The AltLJ, focusing on

  • social justice, human rights and law reform
  • critique of the legal system
  • developments in alternative practice
  • community legal education

The back catalogue (to 2000) is also available, free, for a limited time on our new Sage website.

News & Views

Reflection on 20 years since Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody

Ben Schokman
Human Rights

15 April 2011 saw the 20th anniversary of the release of the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Commission’s report highlighted the systemic disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which resulted in their higher rates of incarceration and the high rate of subsequent deaths in custody.

Many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations related to the criminal justice system, and required ongoing liaison between different government agencies. The principal thrust of the 333 recommendations was directed towards the elimination of disadvantage, empowerment and self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Twenty years on however, many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations have never been implemented and the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody continue to be of concern.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 127

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Update from Tasmania

Noel Rattray
Tasmania

The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (‘TLRI’) recently released its latest Report entitled Racial Vilification and Racially Motivated Offences calling for a new sentencing provision to be introduced to address criminal racial vilification and racially motivated offenses. The Report was prompted by a proposal from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania following the killing of an Asian student studying at the University and a significant increase in media reporting of racially motivated attacks throughout Australia during 2009 and 2010.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 134

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Extensive changes to jury selection and eligibility in Western Australia

Victoria Williams
Western Australia

On 14 April 2011 the West Australian Parliament passed the Juries Legislation Amendment Act 2011 (WA) (‘the Act’). The Act received Royal Assent on 2 May 2011 and it is anticipated that the main provisions of the Act will begin to commence operation from July 2011. According to the Attorney General’s media statement on 15 April 2011, the new legislation will ‘bring Western Australia’s jury system into the 21st century’.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 136

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Racial Vilification Conviction

Renae Barker
Western Australia

On 31 January 2011 Brendan Lee O’Connell became the first person sentenced under Western Australia’s anti-vilification laws. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment after being found guilty of six charges of racial vilification. In 2009 Mr O’Connell posted footage of himself on the internet showing him insulting a young Jewish man and of a speech filmed outside the Bell Tower in Perth. The offences also related to an altercation between Mr O’Connell and two young Jewish men at a rally outside an IGA supermarket in south Perth. The protest was being conducted by the group ‘Friends of Palestine’ against the sale of oranges from Israel at the IGA store. Members of the Australian Union of Students attended the protests leading to the altercation.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 136

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Youth justice

Ruth Brebner
Northern Territory

On 29 March 2011 the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General announced a review into the Youth Justice System in the Northern Territory. The terms of reference were published on the same day.

Appointed to lead the review was former member for Araluen, Jodeen Carney. During her time in the Legislative Assembly, Ms Carney served as Opposition Leader and shadow Attorney-General, resigning in 2010. Ms Carney’s appointment is seen as a strategic move to encourage bi-partisan support of the review. Ms Carney’s long time residence in Alice Springs, and commitment to issues affecting Central Australia is also likely to encourage support from regional and remote youth organisations.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 133

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Floods Inquiry

Steven White
Queensland

This column has previously reported on the recent Queensland floods and the response of the legal community in supporting affected persons (Volume 36(1)). As foreshadowed in that DUAO, the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry is up and running. The closing date for written submissions was 4 April (copies of submissions can be accessed on the Commission’s website, floodcommission.qld.gov.au/home)

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 134

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New Migrant Education Program

Danielle Misell
South Australia

Over the past few years, the Legal Services Commission of South Australia (‘the Commission’) has provided legal education to over 16 000 non-English speaking migrants through its New Migrant Education Program. In March 2004, the Commission and the Law Foundation of South Australia jointly funded a project to consult culturally and linguistically diverse (‘CALD’) communities on their level of understanding of Australian family law, with the intention of improving their access to and understanding of family law. The project concluded that:

  • [t]he ability of members of CALD communities to access legal information and the legal system is often restricted by the barriers of language and culture, knowledge of and ability to negotiate the Australian legal system; and
  • [e]ven where language barriers can be addressed through the use of interpreters, cultural barriers can still inhibit understanding and acceptance of the Australian legal system, and access to it.
(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 134

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The Protectors: A Journey Through Whitefella Past

Melissa Castan

Stephen Gray, The ProtectorsStephen Gray; Allen & Unwin, 2011; 296 pp;
$29.99

This powerful and provocative book explores an unspoken but important part of Australia’s history: the motivations and the role of the administrators and patrol officers who carried out the Indigenous ‘protection’ policies in Northern Australia. In short, Stephen Gray uncovers another side of the ‘Stolen Generations’ debate, the as-yet unheard voices of the ‘protectors’. Gray starts by juxtaposing the two national apology speeches of February 2008 in order to capture the dramatic divergence within white Australian views about our Aboriginal past. On the one hand, newly-elected Prime Minister Rudd alluded to racism, pseudoscientific theories of racial superiority and the profound injustice and inequality of past policies. In contrast, opposition leader Nelson spoke of benign intentions, goodness and acting in the best interests of the child. Gray describes this divergence as representing two Australian tribes, in a ‘war of words, perspectives and views of the world’ (p 5).  He then confronts the question of what white Australia really meant when it apologised for its past? Why is mainstream Australia still so equivocal about the Apology?

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 140

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Rockwiz National Tour 2010

Mike Daly

Rockwiz National Tour 2010 Official DVDVarious artists; Liberation DVD/CD;
$29.99

For music fans and masterminds alike, `RocKwiz’ has become a Saturday night staple. This feisty SBS TV show, recorded at St Kilda’s Esplanade Hotel, combines a pop trivia quiz and live music, moderated with raucous humour by hosts Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis. At its heart is the Orkestra: James Black (keyboards/guitar), drummer Peter Luscombe and bassist Mark Ferrie. This pro threesome has a prodigious repertoire, from baby boomer to contemporary hits as they provide musical clues or back a succession of guest players.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 141

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Car Tape 2

Mike Daly

Lisa Miller, Car Tape 2Lisa Miller; Raoul;
$25.00

Lisa Miller’s first `Car Tape’ CD started out as a covers side project in 2002 during a career lull, but became the Melbourne singer’s most successful recording. Nowadays, although the cassette tape concept seems even more retro — when iTunes playlists are the go — Miller embarks on her follow-up with characteristic chutzpah, revisiting old, occasionally unfamiliar songs with often audacious arrangements that owe much to co-producer and guitarist Shane O’Mara and his Yikesville home studio. O’Mara loves to crank up the effects and he turns it on for the opener, a gritty makeover of the Willie Dixon blues ballad `Hidden Charms’, while on David Crosby’s evocative `Traction in the Rain’ he kicks in the reverb.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 141

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