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A reflection on the royal commission into aboriginal deaths in custody and its consideration of aboriginal women's issues

Australian Indigenous Law Review
Volume 15 Issue 1 (2011)

Abstract: Following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody ('RCIADIC') criticism emerged that it failed to adequately consider Aboriginal women in its inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. On the anniversary of the RCIADIC, this article reflects on that criticism. First, this article will provide a brief overview of the RCIADIC and the feminist critique of its failure to adequately incorporate Aboriginal women's issues in its work. Then, this article will describe in more detail the research of Marchetti into the RCIADIC and gender. Next, this article will analyse the RCIADIC'S reliance on the right to self-determination as a guiding principle through a gender lens. Finally, this article will problematise a stock standard narrative reflected in the RCIADIC report that, women fared better during colonisation. The valid critique made about RCIADIC and its failure to adopt an intersectional approach is a challenge shared today by the state and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander political community: the tendency to essentialise the 'Aboriginal person' skews if not hampers responses to the serious challenges facing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. If it is true that RCIADIC failed to adequately incorporate an intersectional approach taking into account the very different experiences of Aboriginal women and Aboriginal men, the question still remains today, how can the state ever adequately gauge what Aboriginal women experience and what Aboriginal women think, when the identity is so politically and legally framed as a collective?

To cite this article: Davis, Megan. A reflection on the royal commission into aboriginal deaths in custody and its consideration of aboriginal women's issues [online]. Australian Indigenous Law Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2011: 25-33. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=272030989603472;res=IELIND> ISSN: 1835-0186. [cited 28 Sep 16].

Personal Author: Davis, Megan; Source: Australian Indigenous Law Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2011: 25-33 Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 1835-0186 Subject: Australia. Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody; Prisoners--Death; Women, Aboriginal Australian; Criminal justice, Administration of; Aboriginal Australians--Social life and customs; Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Professor of Law and Director, Indigenous Law Centre, University of New South Wales

Database: Indigenous Collection