Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people


  • Judicial Commission of NSW, Equality before the Law: Bench Book (2018).
    Section 2 discusses a range of issues affecting Aboriginal people and their experience of court processes.


  • Supreme Court of Queensland, Equal Treatment Bench Book (2nd ed, 2016).
    • Chapter 7 provides demographic information about Indigenous people in Queensland. Chapter 8 considers culture and kinship. Chapter 9, Indigenous language and communication, provides helpful information in relation to interpreters and giving evidence. See also Chapter 10, Indigenous people and the criminal justice system.
    • Most relevantly for this bench book, Part III of Chapter 10 looks at particular difficulties for Aboriginal women including Aboriginal women as victims of violence. It notes: ‘There is a high incidence of domestic and family violence against Aboriginal women, particularly in remote communities. Common effects of long-term violence include low self-esteem and feelings of fear and shame. For Aboriginal women, these effects are compounded by other cultural factors, such as the nature of women’s business, community pressure, and mistrust of police and the criminal justice system’ (p.109).


  • Judicial College of Victoria, Family Violence Bench Book (2014).
    The section 5.7 – Indigenous People ‘discusses indigenous people’s experiences of family violence, the prevalence of family violence within indigenous communities, and some of the barriers to indigenous people reporting family violence and accessing support services’. It provides information on the legislative context around Indigenous people and domestic violence; the prevalence of, and factors contributing to, family violence in Indigenous communities; barriers to reporting and accessing services; and information on assistance and services.


  • Fryer-Smith, Stephanie, Aboriginal Bench Book for Western Australian Courts (Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, 2nd ed, 2008).

    This bench book provides demographic information about Aboriginal people in Western Australia. It provides information about local customs, traditions and language. In particular see Section 8.4.1 domestic violence as an aggravating feature of sentencing; and Section 7.5 Evidence which includes information about vulnerable witnesses, female witnesses and gender-restricted evidence.

    In relation to perpetrators, Chapters Six and Seven provide comprehensive information on specific considerations that may need to be taken into account for Aboriginal people in Western Australian courts.
  • Department of Justice (WA), Equal Justice Bench Book (2nd edition September 2017).

    Note: Chapter 10 Women is currently under review. Until revision is completed, the first edition chapter 10 applies. The relevant part of the following text is based on the first edition chapter.

    See chapter 11 Aboriginal people for information on demographic and other helpful information. In particular see: Points to consider:

    There are several issues that particularly affect Aboriginal women:

    • Be sensitive towards issues of sexuality. It may be a taboo subject and may connote “shame”.
    • Some women may hide physical injuries due to feelings of shame.
    • There may be community repercussions from the legal process for the woman, her family and children.
    • Be aware that leaving a violent relationship is especially problematic for Aboriginal women as they also may fear reprisal from extended family members.
    • Do not make the assumption that all Aboriginal people will necessarily want access to Aboriginal services.


  • Neilson, Linda C, Domestic Violence Electronic Bench Book (National Judicial Institute, 2017).
    Chapter 20 discusses Indigenous peoples and domestic violence in the Canadian context, though there are some parallels in terms of historic systemic oppression and dispossession. The bench book highlights that a one size fits all approach is not sufficient, and that historical ‘harm to culture … has created social conditions conducive to high levels of domestic violence in some Indigenous communities’. See particularly Sections 20.3.1 and 20.3.2, which highlight that Indigenous victims of domestic violence are often wary of turning to authorities, and outline cultural barriers to disclosure. See also Section 20.6 which provides guidance for assessing domestic violence in an Indigenous context.