We are educators who play a central role in developing our law students’ understandings of Indigenous cultures, legal systems, and experiences of settler law.

In 2019 the Council of Australian Law Deans made a Statement on Australian Law’s Systemic Discrimination and Structural Bias Against First Nations Peoples, stating that:

CALD urges all Australian law schools to work in partnership with First Nations peoples to give priority to the creation of culturally competent and culturally safe courses and programs. In so doing, CALD acknowledges the part that Australian legal education has played in supporting, either tacitly or openly, the law’s systemic discrimination and structural bias against First Nations peoples.

The Hub is seeking to transform Australian legal education so that legal practitioners are equipped with the skills and understandings to support First Nations peoples in their justice work.

Hub Electives at Melbourne Law School

The Hub offers a range of innovative elective subjects to Melbourne Law School Students.

Traveling Subjects

Access to Justice on Country

This subject is an experiential and ‘On-Country’ learning experience. Through on Country experience and engagement with a range of organisations and practitioners, students will consider key and emerging issues of access-to-justice that lawyers must critically engage with in their work, with particular attention to First Nations justice. Watch the 2023 Darwin Trip highlights here:

Indigenous Law in Aotearoa and Australia

Taught intensively in Aotearoa- New Zealand, this subject aims to equip students with expert knowledge on current Indigenous legal issues in Aotearoa and Australia and how each settler jurisdiction’s legal institutions addressing the ongoing presence of Indigenous laws, as well as challenging students to consider how this might be better done.

2022 class staying on marae in Rotorua, Aotearoa

2022 class staying on Marae in Rotorua, Aotearoa

Classroom Subjects

Treaty: Indigenous Settler Agreements

At a time of ongoing state-based Indigenous-settler treaty processes, Treaty enables students to engage with treaty-making as a practice of comparative law and agreement-making between Indigenous nations and settler institutions, considering what is required if Indigenous-settler agreements are to be legitimate and robust.

Law and Indigenous Peoples

Law and Indigenous Peoples provides students with an introduction to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and key legal policy areas impacting First Nations rights in Australia . We are joined by a range of experts throughout semester to consider policy areas across criminal law, statutory child protection, land rights and intellectual and cultural property.

Law and Indigenous Peoples students with Les Malezer, former chair of the Global Caucus of Indigenous Peoples negotiating the UNDRIP

Law and Indigenous Peoples students with Les Malezer, former chair of the Global Caucus of Indigenous Peoples negotiating the UNDRIP


Clinical Subjects

Indigenous Legal Advocacy Clinic

In this subject student get real experience supporting Indigenous organisation or campaigns by providing research support on a law or advocacy issue impacting First Nations people.

Curriculum Review

The JD Indigenous Curriculum Review was commenced through a recommendation of the 2019 Review of MLS Indigenous Programs conducted by Maureen Teehan and Shaun Ewen.

The JD Indigenous Curriculum Review Summary

The Hub works with a Committee of academic staff to review existing compulsory curriculum and work with subject coordinators and teaching teams to develop content and teaching methods that showcase Indigenous law and knowledge.

JD Curriculum Review Case Study

Legal Method and Reasoning

A compulsory two week intensive which introduces new law students to foundational legal skills. Through the review three full days of teaching on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of law were introduced to the subject, as well as reflective assessment relating to Indigenous experiences of law. Each year, students engage with new case study on an issue of First Nations justice lawyers can meaningfully contribute to, with an expert guest panel. In 2023, it was on the Victorian Treaty Assembly, joined by Assembly members and lawyers. This course seeks to centre First Nations experiences of law, through ongoing practice of Indigenous legal systems, right from the outset of JD studies.

For inquiries about the curriculum review contact Jaynaya Dwyer (Research Fellow at the Indigenous Law and Justice Hub).

Advocating for Legal Education Forms

The Hub advocates for changes to legal education across the profession to enhance the justice services First Nations people can access in Australia.

In 2022 Dr Cubillo, on behalf of the Indigenous Law and Justice Hub gave evidence at the Yoorrook Justice Commission, where he addressed the need to change law school curriculums and legal accreditation. We called for:

  • Introduction of a mandatory subject for all law students being admitted in Australia on Indigenous history and law; a ‘Priestley 12’
  • Ongoing profession development for lawyers on cultural safety and cultural capability
  • Specialist accreditation for lawyers working predominately with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

You can read the full witness statement or watch the hearing on the Yoorrook Justice Commission Website.

For more information about the Hub’s agenda for Legal Education reform read our article on Indigenous Programs at Law School published in the Law Institute Journal NAIDOC special edition.

Eddie Speaking