White Noise - Episode 5: A Masterclass in Lawyering with Judge David Woodroffe

quote from Judge David Woodroffe

Show Notes - Episode Five – A masterclass in lawyering with Judge David Woodroffe

We are delighted to share our conversation with Justice David Woodroffe, the first Aboriginal person to become a judge in the Northern Territory. In this podcast, David, a Mudburra and Jingili man, provides future lawyers with essential tips for entering the advocacy and legal world that go beyond the lessons we learn in the classroom. This podcast is filled with joy and commitment to ensuring Indigenous people are seen, heard and respected in legal processes.

This podcast was recorded on Wurundjeri Country at the MLS Digital Studio

The White Noise podcast is a production of the Indigenous Law and Justice Hub at the University of Melbourne. You can find out more about us on our website, or by following us on Instagram.

The White Noise podcast is hosted by Jaynaya Dwyer, Research Fellow at the Indigenous Law and Justice Hub. Thanks to Eddie Cubillo and Maggie Blanden for their assistance with the production of this episode.

The soundtrack, White Noise, is written and performed by John Wayne Parsons (Yuggerabul Meriam Le). We are grateful to John Wayne for lending his voice to this program.

Our sincere to the staff of the MLS digital studio for the production of this podcast:

  • Greta Robenstone – production
  • Ben Chandler – Sound Mixing

Download a full transcript of this episode.


To send feedback on this episode or to make inquiries about the White Noise podcast please contact mls-indigenous@unimelb.edu.au

More information on the episode

You can learn more about the themes discussed in this episode through the following resources:

To learn more about the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and the important work they do, check out their website.

Judge Woodroffe spoke about his families history in the stolen generations and some of the institutions involved in these policies in Darwin – the Kahlin Compound. For a First Nations history of the Kahlin Compound you can read Take this Child: From Kahlin Compound to the Retta Dixon Children’s Home (1990) by Barbara Cummings.

Judge Woodroffe spoke about the important work of Aboriginal language speakers and the role of interpreters in the court system. You can learn more through the Interpreter protocols in Northern Territory courts.

Other publications by Judge Woodroffe which speak to the themes of this podcast include:

  • John Rawnsley, David Woodroffe, Eloise Culic; James Richards and Lauran Clifton, ‘Cultural competency in a legal service and justice agency for Aboriginal peoples’ (2018) Legal Education Review 28(2) 1
  • Northern Territory Law Reform Committee, ‘Two Justice Systems Working Together: Report on the Recognition of Local Aboriginal Laws in Sentencing and Bail.’ (2020, Report no.46)

We spoke about custody notifications, and the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody more broadly. You can learn more about the implementation of the recommendations in the paper ‘30 years on: Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations remain unimplemented’ (2021) by T. Anthony, K. Jordan, T. Walsh, F. Markham and M Williams.

David also mentioned the High Court case of Bugmy v R (2013), and the consideration of experiences associated with colonisation in sentencing. The Bugmy Bar Book, published by the NSW Public Defenders Office provides useful resources to understand this area of law and how difficult life circumstances might be brought before courts for consideration in sentencing.