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Customary Law

Year 8 Social Science

Customary law - Definition
• Customary law refers to the guidelines for
behaviour that have been developed by
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
• These laws are passed on by word of mouth and
have not been written down.
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customary
law originated in the Dreamtime and provides
guidance for how to behave and live. Disputes
or incidents are resolved by the elders, who
agree on an appropriate solution or

Indigenous Australia
Language Groups
Dreamtime and Myth

Example of an Indigenous Customary Law =
Possum Law
Aboriginal Possum Law, Western Australia (1:28)

Customary laws and Australian law
• Some State and Territory Laws have been amended to
specifically refer to Customary Law — e.g. the Northern
Territory’s Sentencing Act.
• Many courts have also taken customary law into account
when considering sentences.
• The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
completed a review into the recognition of Aboriginal law
and culture in Western Australia.
• Read chapter 3.4 pages 99- 107
• Answer questions on Page 103-104. Q’s 1, 2, 3, 4.
Read at least one article below and answer the questions:
• Read the article relating to the Case study ‘Court imposes
customary punishment’.(article on Page 101) Then answer
Question 5 on page 105.
• Read article 1 relating to Customary Law and answer
Question 8 on page 104.
• Read article 2 relating to Circe Sentencing and answer
Question 7a & b.

Blending the two…Customary laws and Australian law

Read article below and answer.

Circle Sentencing.
1. Read the article.
2. Read the question:
1. Question 7a & b in Ch 3.4 of the textbook (pg

3. Reread the article knowing what the question
4. Highlight the copy of the article with relevant
points to the question.
There are other questions to the right 1-6 that
you can answer if 7a. or b. is too challenging.

Questions to consider when
reading the articles:
1. What is the article about?
2. What is the type of law being
reflected in the article?
3. What does the article say
about Customary Law and
sentencing of Indigenous
5. From what you have read,
provide your opinion of the
benefits and difficulties with
integrating Customary Law
into Australian Law.
6. For those students who read
articles, compare the
Identify and describe the

We did not get to this in the lesson.
But available for reading….
Article 1:
Judicial Officers Bulletin Vol 20 No 5 and article by Professor Michael
Dodson AM. ‘Customary law and the sentencing of Indigenous
answer Question 8 on page 104.

Homework Diaries
• Revision for the test.
• Read and answer the questions relating to one Article
from today’s lesson.