Law Text Culture


R. L. Ginibi


About a month ago, I had a frantic phone call from a new Australian woman named Ramya, of Lebanese descent. She implored me to help her son, a Higher School Certificate student of GranvilIe Boys' High School, as he was given an assignment on the subject of Aboriginal law. He had to write up an in-depth study into forms of Aboriginal customary law and punishment, and why it should be recognised as an acceptable form of trial for Aborigines.

I was flabbergasted! I was desperately trying to explain to her how ironic it was that the education system now wanted to know about Aboriginal law when in fact we were dispossessed of our own land, that we urban Kooris were forced to assimilate and give up our languages and culture and become like white people. We were forced to conform to their laws and standards, the laws and standards of the invaders of our country, because we were never allowed to be our damn selves, as we are an oppressed people. We had our own laws, and a very democratic society before the whiteman stuck his nose into our affairs, and literally stuffed our culture up! Besides, I told her that some of our laws were sacred and not to be spoken about to anyone, only our own tribal people. I told this lady that I would do my best to help her son with what information [had, as I could only speak about the laws of my own Bundjalung people, because it would be wrong of me to talk about any other tribal laws.