Bringing Indigenous Voices into Judicial Decision-Making - Changing whose voices matter!

Presenters: Debbie Bargallie (Senior Research Fellow, Griffith University Institute for Educational Research) and Jennifer Nielsen (Associate Professor, Southern Cross University School of Law and Justice)

Abstract: In this seminar, Debbie and Jennifer share reflections on working together on the national ARC project, Bringing Indigenous Voices into Judicial Decision-Making (N Watson & H Douglas, UQ).

They chose to rewrite a 2002 NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal judgment, Commissioner of Corrective Services v Aldridge as an Appeal judgment heard by the NSW Court of Appeal. The case concerns Richard Aldridge’s complaint of race discrimination against the NSW Department of Corrective Services, in relation to his removal from a position leading the Department’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (‘RCIADIC’).

Debbie and Jennifer came to this work as situated knowers of and having experienced the culture and operations of the prison system and been ethical witnesses to its institutional toxicity, especially to Indigenous Australian peoples as prisoners, families, and employees. They used critical race storytelling and the Indigenous method of yarning (Bessarab and Bridget Ng’andu, 2010) to exchange their knowledge and stories as Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and share their personal and academic understanding of Aldridge’s case.

Drawing especially on the works of Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson and Professor Irene Watson, their rewritten judgment privileged Indigenous voices thereby changing whose voices are central in this legal narrative. Their rewritten judgment brings vital attention to what is said and to what was not said in the original decisions through centring Richard Aldridge’s knowledge and lived experience of racism.


Dr Debbie Bargallie  and Dr Jennifer Nielsen

Dr Debbie Bargallie is a descendent of the Kamilaroi and Wonnarua peoples of New South Wales. She is a Postdoctoral Senior Research Fellow with the Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Griffith University and is also a member of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research. Debbie holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the Queensland University of Technology and researches on race and racism. Her book Unmasking the racial contract: Indigenous voices on racism in the Australian Public Service (2020) is published by AIATSIS Aboriginal Studies Press.

Dr Jennifer Nielsen is an Associate Professor in the Faculty. Her work applies critical race and whiteness theory to reveal the way mainstream Australian law privileges ‘white’ interests over those of First Nations’ peoples and ‘non-white’ groups. In her teaching and research, Jennifer applies a socio-legal analysis that seeks to engage and promote principles of social justice and inclusion.

Video recording: Bringing Indigenous Voices into Judicial Decision-Making - Changing whose voices (60:00)


Scales of justice

Date and time

From: 12:00 PM Thursday, September 3, 2020 To: 01:00 PM Thursday, September 3, 2020


• Or join by phone: +61 2 8015 2088
• Meeting ID: 933 0741 4421
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