Western Australia is currently facing a suicide epidemic with eight Indigenous youths taking their lives in the past four weeks.
Leaders from across the country as well as within communities are calling for more culturally inclusive solutions, including introducing Aboriginal lore into some parts of the state’s legal jurisdictions.
Last week, Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer told the local newspaper bringing black lore into some communities will help deal with the crime and other major issues.
“There are two different laws that we are supposed to live by — white mainstream and our customary law,” Ms Farrer said.
“We get persecuted if we take matters in our own hands (our own lore) under white man law but are expected to practice our law for native title rights. Aboriginal people have their own governance and we need that to be recognised. We need that to be implemented when making decisions about our own people.”
Ms Farrer also stated that many young people living in communities also find it hard to go to health services due to the stigma and town gossip around accessing some of these services.
As explained by Ken Wyatt, traditional lore is more than just tribal punishment but doubted if traditional lore could be brought back into this modern age.
“There already are models around Australia where you have elders sitting on courts, and they bring into play cultural ways, they also bring into play their positions are elders within the community in talking to the young people, so that is part of our l-a-w,” he told the media last week.
“Even at my age if I have an elder that I respect, particularly our women, ‘Kenny stop talking,’ I’ll stop- because of the respect that I have, and that’s part of our lore… It’s about the cultural context of our lores in its every day being in the way that we have respect and consideration for those who have the acknowledge and keep that knowledge but also have the capacity to guide us in a better way that we have been acting.”
Noongar elder, Dr Robert Isaac has also backed Ms Farrer’s comments and said integrating black lore into white man’s law will allow Aboriginal people to feel listened to.
“It’s about the governments of Australia ... to start listening to the Aboriginal people especially from these traditional areas where they have their traditional ways of dealing with their people,” Dr Isaac told the West Australian.
“I don’t mean by someone being killed, I’m talking about just a punishment that will serve notice to a culprit that if a spearing takes place ... the punishment will be done in the way it’s done and for the lawmakers, especially the police and the lawmakers of Australia, (to) understand that.”
The Law Society of Western Australia has thrown their support behind Ms Farrer and calls Aboriginal Courts to be established like those in New South Wales and Queensland.
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