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Reconciliation On-line: Reflections and Possibilities

  • Siobhán McCann, Graham Greenleaf, Philip Chung, Daniel Austin and Tim Moore...


Since the beginning of the Reconciliation and Social Justice Project in 1996, AustLII has sought to contribute to the process of reconciliation through the provision of relevant legal and cultural information relating to indigenous people. Two important components of the project have been collecting material as well as making it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Another significant part of the Reconciliation and Social Justice Project has been connecting remote Aboriginal communities to the Internet and providing training to them in its use. The history and achievements of the project are set out here and some consideration is given to future directions for the various aspects of the project.



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1. See Kirsty Magarey and Tim Moore, “Indigenous Peoples’ legal issues via Internet” in “The AustLII Papers: New Directions in Law via the Internet” Journal of Information Law and Technology 1997 (2) <> (as at 13 July 1999).

3. In The Australian, 12 July 1999 Pat Dodson is quoted as saying that “there has not been any real hand of friendship coming from the Government.” David Nason and Penelope Green “Apology? Don't hold your breath.”

6. Magarey, Kirsty and Moore, Tim, “Indigenous Peoples’ legal issues via Internet.

7. The Council had discovered that the reports were out of print and that the master disk copies had been lost and arranged for all 97 volumes of the report to be made electronically available using optical character recognition and scanning technology. The report was then published on CD-ROM and on the AustLII site.

8. For more information about the early development of the project see Kirsty Magarey and Tim Moore “Indigenous People's issues via Internet.

10. Including inter alia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC); The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC); the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC); The National Indigenous Working Group (NIWG); National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT).

11. The Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland & Ors (1996) 141 ALR 129; <> (as at 1 July 1999).

12. See Chung, Philip “In defence of plain HTML for law: AustLII's approach to standards” forthcoming in Law via the Internet ‘99 Conference Proceedings; for a more detailed discussion of definitions and guidelines for accessibility; see also <> (as at 10 July 1999).

13. For more information on AustLII's work in relation to improving community access to legal information see Madeleine Davis “AustLII's role in Community Legal Information: an indexer's perspective” forthcoming in Law via the Internet ‘99 Conference proceedings.

14. Ibid.

15. Mabo and Others v. Queensland (No. 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1 <> (as at 17 July 1999).

17. Among these are the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC <>)at the State Library of New South Wales as well as Law for You, <> (as at 12 July 1999).

18. AustLII's Australian Law Index is at <> AustLII's World Law Index is at <> (as at 13 July 1999).

19. Where appropriate, the index structure will also alert the user to resources on AustLII's databases under the various subject headings.

22. <> (as at 15 July 1999).

23. <> (as at 13 July 1999). Martin Flynn was a lecturer in law at the Northern Territory University when he compiled this index.

24. <> (as at 13 July 1999).

25. <> (as at 12 July 1999).

26. See Greenleaf, Graham “Solving the problems of finding law on the web: World Law and DIAL” forthcoming in Law via the Internet ‘99: Conference Proceedings.

27. Sharing History” - Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation publication <> (as at 13 July 1999).

28. McCorquodale, John, Aborigines and the Law: a Digest Aboriginal Studies Press, 1987.

29. See for example, the Time line provided by Mick Dodson in his fifth report as Social Justice Commissioner, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner - Fifth Report, 1997, also the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation “Timeline of Little and Not so Little Known Facts” at <> (as at 15 July 1999).

30. See for example the time-line of the N'isga nation, in British Colombia, Canada at <>, and the Tanui Corporation at <> (as at 15 July 1999).

31. More information about these communities is available at <> (as at 13 July 1999).

32. The list was called recoznet-1 and has since become recoznet 2, see <> (as at 13 July 1999).

33. News-clip <>.

35. Ben Ward & Ors v State of Western Australia & Ors [1998] FCA 1478 <http://www.> (as at 14 July 1999).

37. A general aversion to the excessive use of graphics on Internet sites has been documented by K Brown and C Degenhart, “Web Graphic Design: It's Not What You Think,” Web Review, 1998, <> (as at 14 July 1999). Brown and Degenhart site studies which show that “some graphics can directly annoy users” and that “they often cover animations with their hands to better see the text they seek.” The experience in remote communities was that users were more often “paralysed,” waiting for the graphic to disappear or asking for instructions for how to remove it. On this problem see also Jacob Nielsen's Top Ten Mistakes in Web desigen <> (as at 15 July 1999).

38. For discussion of this see John Hobson “Strategies for Building an Indigenous Australian cybercommunity: the KooriNet Project” presented at the 1997 Fulbright Symposium: Indigenous Cultures in an Interconnected World, July 24-27, Darwin. <> (as at 12 July 1999); for an analysis of the issues in indigenous presence on the Internet and in particular an analysis of the distinction between site produced by indigenous people and sites about indigenous people see “Where are all the Aboriginal Home Pages? The current Australian Indigenous presence on the WWW” Paper presented at the Fifth International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference, 14 October 1997, Alice Springs. <> (as at 14 July 1999).

39. The communities and their web addresses (as at 15 July 1999) are:

  1. The Apurte community in St Teresa, Alice Springs <>

  2. Koonibba community on the Eyre Pennisula, South Australia <>

  3. Umoona community, North west of Coober Pedy, South Australia <>

  4. The Wadeye community in the north west of the Northern Territory <>

  5. The Yarrabah community, south of Cairms, Queensland <>

* Paper presented by Siobhán McCann. The authors acknowledge the financial assistance of the Australian Research Council Collaborative Grants Scheme.

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International Journal of Legal Information
  • ISSN: 0731-1265
  • EISSN: 2331-4117
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-legal-information
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