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The Right of Indigenous Children to Cultural Safety in the Family Laws of Australia and New Zealand


Henry Kha and Marica Ratnam

Australia and New Zealand are both signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and therefore are expected to promote Indigenous cultural safety in their respective family laws under article 30. Australia has a particular obligation due to the intergenerational trauma that Indigenous Australians continue to suffer as a result of colonialism. The Australian Law Reform Commission has recently reported that the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) continues to fail to protect the right to cultural safety for Indigenous children under article 30 due to a lack of legal safeguards. Conversely, New Zealand has arguably better implemented article 30 under the Care of Children Act 2004 (NZ), which provides legal mechanisms for the ordering of cultural reports and cultural speakers. This article argues that New Zealand law better recognises Indigenous kinship in determining the child’s best interests and offers an example of law reform to Australia.

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2022 45(4) UNSWLJ 1325: