The potential of current legal structures to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests in the Australian bush food industry
There are complex connections between Australia's native plants and first peoples, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The maintenance of these connections is central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and well-being and the tangible realisation of Australian policy commitments. Diverse cultural connections combine with other motivations to underpin an array of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests in the commercial development of traditional plant foods ('bush foods'). Despite nation-wide policy support for these interests, there is no national legal framework to support them. This fortifies the popular call for a new (sui generis) law that transforms the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into enforceable legal rights. It is unclear the extent to which a single sui generis law might help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples realise their diverse interests in the development of gourmet bush food products and new bush food varieties. It is also unlikely that Australia will implement such a law in the near future. This paper offers a preliminary study of the capacity of current legal structures to support some key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests that might arise in these two development contexts. The study can inform the future development of practical legal strategies to support the diverse interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the bush food industry.
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