The Indigenous peoples of Australia are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Although the term Indigenous is mainly used in this chapter in accordance with current practice, the focus is on Aboriginal communities for it is they who have been particularly subjected to the laws and policies that are here described. Laws pertaining to Indigenous peoples, and ensuing policies and practices, are among the most pressing concerns in contemporary Australian society. Past and present laws have set the foundations for the systematic and institutionalised inequalities experienced by Indigenous Australians. Contemporary laws which social workers and others are charged with implementing, for example in juvenile justice and child welfare, purport to be non-discriminatory but frequently perpetuate injustices and breach of the human rights of Indigenous peoples. This can create confusion and tension for social workers who are working within the confines of these legal parameters.
In the shadow of the law: the legal context of social work practice, third edition / Phillip Swain and Simon Rice (eds.),
chapter 1, pp. 3-19