Consequential Matters

214. Aboriginal/Police Relations. In addition to the questions identified in this Chapter as raised by the Terms of Reference, a number of consequential issues arise. For example, there is no doubt that liaison between Aboriginal communities and the police (whether based locally or at a distance) is of vital importance to the proper administration of the law and the maintenance of order in those communities.[86] The general question of Aboriginal-police relations is not directly within the Commission’s Terms of Reference. However a number of specific problems of policing are relevant (eg the use of Aboriginal police, police aides, and issues of police intervention in traditional communities) and on these and related issues a good deal of information and comment has been placed before the Commission. These issues will be dealt with as they arise in particular contexts.[87]

215. Education. Many submissions have stressed the need for improved education at various levels. The police need practical instruction in the problems of interaction and communication with traditional communities (and with Aborigines generally), including instruction on Aboriginal customary laws and traditions. Work has already been done in some police forces along these lines: Aborigines themselves need appropriate forms of community legal education about the law, its procedures and requirements. Other law enforcers and officials involved with Aboriginal communities need programs of education and training with respect to their areas of responsibility, or at least access to relevant information and assistance. Again these matters are referred to as they arise in this Report.[88]

216. Resources. The recognition of Aboriginal customary laws is to be distinguished from programs of affirmative action in areas such as housing, education or employment.[89] The present Reference is concerned with the relations between the general law and Aboriginal customary laws, rather than with questions of the resources available for Aboriginal community development programs. The use of existing authorities, rather than the creation of new ones, will help to minimise the expense entailed by the Commission’s proposals. But some resources will be required both in implementing particular recommendations and in informing communities of the options available to them under the Commission’s proposals. There may also be some costs associated with specific proposals — for example the proposals for changes in the Social Security Act and its administration, although the Department’s own estimate is that these will be relatively small.[90]

[86]Assistant Commissioner A Grant, Northern Territory Police, Submission 116 (19 February 1981) 9.

[87]See esp para 844-879.

[88]See esp para 252-3, 312, 368, 370, 391, 463, 489, 528, 599-600, 848, 857, 868-879, 839-842, 994-8.

[89]See para 133.

[90]See para 310-2, 391.