The National Indigenous Legal Conference is discussing ways to balance the competing obligations faced by Aboriginal people caused by traditional and modern law.
The theme of the conference in Alice Springs is ‘Two Ways Together’.
It is focusing on finding ways to balance the obligations faced by indigenous people due to cultural and traditional practices, against the demands placed on them when they come in contact with the mainstream justice system.
The head of the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, Pat Miller, says there must be greater recognition of traditional law.
“Everybody knows it exists but recognition is very poor at the moment,” she said.
“We are recognised for our culture, our song and our dance but not the actual laws that we live by.”
She says it is a chance for lawyers to understand the customary expectations Aboriginal people face.
“We’ve got the Western legal system that everybody has to adhere to but we’ve also the got different laws that Aboriginal people adhere to, there’s cultural law, customary law and traditional law,” she said.
Speakers at the conference will discuss sorcery and traditional law, as well as mandatory sentencing, alcohol rehabilitation and consumer protection.