Multiculturalism and legal plurality in Australia

Dabner, Justin (2016) Multiculturalism and legal plurality in Australia. Coolabah: Observatori Centre d'Estudis Australians, 19. pp. 3-17.

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The great multicultural experiment that is Australia has engendered a reconsideration of core values. Even the traditionally conservative legal system has not been immune. While the law remains anchored in its British Christian common-law traditions, the influence of other cultures and beliefs are emerging. Taking the term multiculturalism to encompass all cultures, including indigenous peoples as well as new comers, two instances of this are the partial accommodation of Indigenous customary law and a debate over the accommodation of Islamic law principles.

The adoption of "foreign" legal concepts poses a dilemma for a liberal democratic society. On one hand, such a society might be expected to embrace wholesale legal plurality. However, there may be some foreign legal principles that are resisted on the basis that they are unacceptable to a free and equal society. The challenge is how to acknowledge the customary and religious laws of minorities whilst establishing one legal framework that applies to all, equally, and without discrimination and protects vulnerable parties.

This article explores the implications for the legal system of a multicultural Australia. Taking the instances of Indigenous and Islamic law, it will be observed that legal plurality exists in Australia but largely in the shadows where the vulnerable of society lack protection. It proposes an institutional response that might help shine a light on these shadows.

Item ID: 46529
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1988-5946
Keywords: Australian studies; postcolonialism; cultural studies; global studies
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Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2017 01:39
FoR Codes: 48 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 4804 Law in context > 480405 Law and society and socio-legal research @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9499 Other Law, Politics and Community Services > 949999 Law, Politics and Community Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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