Abstract: Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are an eclectic society with diverse needs and aspirations in relation to the commercialisation of their traditional plant foods (bush foods). Their interests reflect different worldviews, social structures, personal circumstances and development goals. There is very little legal support for the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in bush food commercialisation. This thesis uses a combination of methods to develop an integrated framework of legal and institutional strategies to better support the diverse interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this commercial context. The research draws upon legal and systems-based analysis to identify pivotal transactions that occur along bush food commercialisation pathways and interventions that might better enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to realise their goals. While a central focus of the research is legal arrangements, of necessity the proposals suggested in this thesis go beyond the conventional bounds of legal research. This is because useful applications or reforms of the law depend upon there being potential strategies that the law might enable. A large part of this research has been to identify potential strategies and then place possible legal arrangements within this context. The integrated framework of possibilities outlined in this thesis combines innovative uses of existing arrangements with new interventions to support as many interests as possible. This differs to current academic approaches that tend to propose single-instrument solutions for specific problems, especially those related to the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge. Such narrowly focused solutions cannot comprehensively support the diverse set of interests identified in discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout this research project. The thesis fills a gap in knowledge on ways to improve the laws regulating bush food commercialisation to better support the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It makes several original contributions, including the further development of a systems-based legal research method and identification of strategies that may provide real-world benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Most exciting is the identification of new ways through which governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can work together to advance social justice goals and wellbeing outcomes. It is not part of the scope of this research to evaluate the acceptability or feasibility of these proposals in practice. This is a further task being advanced by the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation and it managing entity Ninti One, the funding agency for this work. A series of briefing papers included in the thesis are the starting point for this dialogue and further investigation.
Notes: available version if abridged -- full text of some chapters are obtainable as journal papers