Pre-Conference Workshop

Kinship Presentation by Lynette Riley ©

Afternoon of June 7, 2018

This workshop is an introduction to Aboriginal Kinship, roles and reciprocal responsibilities. Participants will be taken through a Kinship system replicating the components of moiety, totem, Skin Names, language and traditional affiliations, and individual identity.

Through this Kinship system participants will:

  • understand the complexity and sophistication of Aboriginal Kinship
  • identify differing levels of relationship
  • understand how the reciprocal-bonds of relationship works

Aboriginal people lived across Australia, traded and were affiliated with one another through very strict Laws of relationship and obligations.

Aboriginal Australians were multi-cultural long before the “white man” came to Australia. There were over 500 different nations across Australia with different languages, social structures and modes of behaviour, but with many common denominators. Specifically Kinship and religious ties were central to social structures.

Participants will begin to see why Aboriginal people face particular problems when interacting with the (colonial) Australian legal system.

The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia Report Aboriginal Customary Laws (Final Report, The interaction of WA law with Aboriginal law and culture, Project 94, September 2006, p. 66) highlighted the importance of Kinship to Aboriginal people:

“Kinship is at the heart of Aboriginal society and underpins the customary law rules and norms… Importantly, kinship governs all aspects of a person’s social behaviour…

It is important to note…that while the kinship system was an undeniable part of traditional Aboriginal society…it is also strongly instilled in contemporary Aboriginal society, including urban Aboriginals…certain kinship obligations, such as the duty to accommodate kin, are taken very seriously regardless of urban or remote location.”

This presentation will assist understandings with contemporary Aboriginal relationships and their importance in today’s social structures.

Although the Kinship systems throughout Australia are extremely varied and it is not possible in this module to examine the differences between them, participants in the presentation will gain a new and deeper understanding of how Kinship systems operate.

By the end of the presentation participants will have gained insight into:

  • The social structure of Aboriginal society.
  • How this social structure and world view differs from the western liberal world view.
  • How this difference impacts upon Aboriginal people in the social systems which operate in Australia, such as: through education, criminal justice systems and the legal system more broadly.

This workshop will be of interest to:

  • Educators.
  • Legal practitioners in Criminal Law, Family Law and Care and Protection.
  • (Government personnel who interact with Aboriginal Australians (especially DOCS, Juvenile Justice and Corrective Services).
  • Organisations who work with or for Aboriginal people.
  • The Magistracy and Judiciary.
  • Police.
  • Students.
  • Anyone who wants to know more about Aboriginal Australians.