It's broke so fix it: arguments for a bill of rights

LexisNexis Butterworths
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Human Rights, 2003, 9 (1), pp. 135 - 150
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This paper looks at the reasons why a Bill of Rights may be an attractive option for rights protection for Indigenous Australians and I want to start by saying that my views are personal; I am not claiming that they are reflective of the Indigenous community. I am going to structure my paper to answer one of the claims most often used against a Bill of Rights, namely, that the current system already allows for adequate rights protection. Put colloquially, it can be called the `if the system aint broke, dont fix it argument. It is easy to say that the system aint broke so you dont need to fix it if it has always worked for you. When I hear people talk about how well our legal system works I can feel a great chasm between what their experience with our laws are and what those of my own family are. I was interested in studying law because of the impact of the child removal policy on my family. My grandmother was taken from her family when she was twelve and sent out to work as a domestic. She never returned to her home. My father was, with several of his siblings, placed in a home at the age of five. He was not able to find the links to his own family until the 1980s. I grew up in a family where I witnessed the impact of that removal on the self-esteem of my family members and I saw what a difference it made to my father to find the family and cultural ties that had been taken away from his mother. I have stood on the very spot where my grandmother was taken from. It is land on our traditional country that we have no ability to claim a native title interest over. I stood on that spot and I couldnt have faith that our legal system was fair, equitable or just.
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