Abstract: In December 2000, the Commission received a reference to ‘inquire into and report upon Aboriginal customary laws in Western Australia’ and consider whether, and if so how, Aboriginal customary laws should be recognised within the Western Australian legal system. The Commission’s terms of reference for this project were wide-ranging, giving the Commission the freedom to investigate all areas of Aboriginal customary laws in Western Australia other than native title issues and matters addressed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA). This Final Report is intended to be read in conjunction with the Commission’s earlier Discussion Paper which provides greater detail in respect of the Commission’s initial consultation findings, its research and analysis. Departing somewhat from the Discussion Paper structure, the first four chapters of the Final Report are of a general nature. Chapter One addresses some of the misconceptions about the reference, and about Aboriginal customary law generally, that have featured in media debates since the release of the Commission’s Discussion Paper; Chapter Two outlines some guiding principles for reform that are applicable across all areas of the reference; Chapter Three summarises issues raised in the Discussion Paper about the state of Aboriginal disadvantage in Western Australia and the Commission’s consultation findings; and Chapter Four discusses methods of and barriers to recognition of Aboriginal customary laws in this state. These chapters are followed by specific chapters which address the interaction between Aboriginal law and culture and Western Australian law in defined areas: Chapter Five deals with the criminal justice system; Chapter Six with the civil law system; Chapter Seven with family law and family violence; Chapter Eight with customary harvesting of natural resources; Chapter Nine with evidence and court procedure; and Chapter Ten with Aboriginal community governance in Western Australia.
Notes: Project 94