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Culture

The below article gives a general indication of Ningy Ningy Culture and in time more information will appear on this site.

Customary Law

The landmark decision of the High Court of Australia in Mabo v The State of Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1 has undoubtedly brought the issue of Aboriginal Customary Law to the fore.

It is fair to say that, prior to the handing down of this decision in 1992, customary law was seen as only relevant in Aboriginal communities in the outback and remote areas. In many respects, the registration of the Turrbal native title claim over Brisbane in 1999 – Australia’s third largest city, has debunked the myth that customary law only existed in the outback and remote communities. So, what exactly is this concept termed customary law?

Customary law is a set of beliefs, customs and practices that emanates from Dreamtime. It is a pre-existing system of laws, traditions and practices which predates European settlement in Australia. Contrary to popular views, customary law is not uniform in Australia, yet similarities exist. It can vary from tribe to tribe, clan to clan and from family groups to family groups. It is an intricate system of laws that regulate the Aboriginal societies in Australia.

QUESTION: How does customary law apply in modern-day Australia?

ANSWER: Customary law is not universal. Its nature and content is determined by the sets of customs and beliefs of each tribe and/or clan. It is a pre-existing system of laws and it is unique. Customary law is independent of the Australian common law, and has been for thousands of years. Customary law, whether in modern-day Australia or not, remains the jurisdiction of the Traditional Owner of a particular area. Its application in modern-day Australia can only be understood when one understands fully the complexities and structures of the Aboriginal society under examination. For example, issues such as Right to Speak for Country, permission to Cross Border, Traditional Blessings, Entry to Places of Cultural Significance … etc are paramount in many Aboriginal societies, yet these very issues are totally misunderstood by many non-Aboriginal Australians

In some respects, native title is where customary law and common law intersect. Native Title law will continue to evolve over time as more cases are settled through the courts. Native title is neither customary law nor common law.