Dr Larissa Behrendt « Back to People
Deadly Vibe Issue 93 November 2004
Home is where the heart is
There can't be much space left on Larissa Behrendt's mantelpiece. Alongside
her countless degrees, including a doctorate from Harvard Law School, and a
David Unaipon award, Larissa now needs to find room for her latest prize -
a Deadly for Outstanding Achievement in Literature.
Larissa won the award for her novel Home. It tells the story of the effect
that government removal policies had on three generations of one Indigenous
family. It follows the lives of these stolen children as they struggle to find
their place in a white world that they know is not their own.
Although Larissa has published several books on Indigenous rights, Home is
her first novel.
"Writing Home was a wonderful experience for me," Larissa told the audience
as she accepted her award. "To write a story about the Stolen Generations and
have it published meant an enormous amount.
"I'd like to acknowledge all those people who have laid the foundation for
this new growth in Indigenous literature. They certainly paved the way for
Indigenous people like me to tell my story. I'd like to thank them for their
pioneering in this really important area."
Larissa also thanked the Deadlys for recognising the importance of Indigenous
literature (this year was the first time a literature category was included
in the Deadlys), as well as her family and her "other family" - her colleagues
from Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology,
"When I look back at all the wonderful moments in my life, this acknowledgement
will be one of the greatest," she said.
(story 1/11/2004 end)
Deadly Vibe Issue 89 July 2004
Earning her stripes
At 35 she's accomplished more than most of us could in a lifetime,
yet for Larissa Behrendt it's only the beginning.
Some people are born achievers, and Dr Larissa Behrendt is one of them. With
more degrees than you could shake a stick at, including a doctorate from Harvard
Law School, Larissa has worked as a practising lawyer in the areas of Aboriginal
land claims and family law, as well as teaching at the University of New South
Wales and Australian National University Law Schools.
She's sat on the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, the Serious Offenders
Review Council, NSW Sentencing Council, the AIATSIS Council, the ATSIC National
Treaty Think Tank, NSW Native Title Services and the NSW Aboriginal Justice
"I guess I'm just a really motivated person," says Larissa,
who is obviously also the master of understatement. "And I find this
kind of work really stimulating. I love my job. I love the people I work with.
And I've got no kids, so that certainly helps!"
Larissa currently holds a position as Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies
at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and is also the director of
the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning - a service that provides a
range of academic and cultural support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
students studying at UTS.
"Twelve years ago, we had two Indigenous students at this university," she
says. "Now we have 360. It really heartens me to see the number of Indigenous
people in tertiary education.
"When you look at them, you can see a real generation shift. People
are now realising their potential, and seeing that opportunities are open to
Larissa has also published three books, including a novel, and is working
on a fourth.
"Whatever my success, there's still hard yards to be done," she
says. "Aboriginal communities are strong on valuing your commitment and
your contribution, not just your degrees.
"I don't feel as though I've earned my stripes yet."
Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology,
Sydney. Director of the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning. Qualified legal
practitioner, currently admitted to the ACT bar. Six years teaching experience
at University Law Schools. Completed masters and doctorate studies in Indigenous
rights and international law at Harvard Law School. Worked with First Nations
organizations in Canada. Published a book and several law journal articles.
Doctorate of Laws - Harvard Law School (1998)
Master of Laws - Harvard Law School (1994)
Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Jurisprudence - University of NSW (1992)
Diploma of Practical Legal Training - University of Technology (1992)
Admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW for practice as a Solicitor (1992)
Admitted to the Supreme Court of the ACT for practice as a Barrister (2000)
2001- University of Technology, Sydney
Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies and Director of Jumbunna Indigenous
House of Learning
1999-2000 Australian National University, Research School of Social Sciences
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Law Program, Research School of Social Sciences
Lecturer, Law Faculty
1998-1999 Harold Cardinal & Associates (Canada)
Advisor to Dr. Harold Cardinal, Chief Negotiator for Treaty 8 First Nations
1993-1995 University of New South Wales
Visiting Teaching Fellow, Law Faculty, Lecturer in Legal Systems-Torts (1994-1995)
Tutor and Guest Lecturer in Aboriginal Australia (1992-1993)
Tutor in Cultural Diversity (1993)
1995 Horowitz & Bilinsky (now Andrew Chalk Associates)
Duties: Drafting legislation, advise on Amendments to statutes, conduct claims
under the Land Rights Act (NSW), filing Native Title claims.
1990-1994 Legal Aid Commission of NSW
Legal Officer Grade I-III - Family Law, Head Office (1994)
Duties: Develop policy for the Legal Aid Commission concerning Aboriginal women
and domestic violence including training programs for Legal Officers and community
education programs, assess mediation services.
Legal Officer Grade I-III -Family Law, Parramatta (1993)
Duties: Responsible for litigation in the areas of dissolution, custody, access,
maintenance and paternity testing, including the preparation of court documents
and advocacy in Local Court and Family Court, conduct general legal advice
sessions.Special Duties: Preparation of Legal Survival Kit for Young Koories
for Law Week 1993.
Summer Clerkship - Administrative Law (1991-1992)
Summer Clerkship - Family Law (1990-1991)
1999 Assembly of First Nations (AFN)/National Indian Brotherhood
Advised National Chief Phil Fontaine on development of AFN gender equity policy
Represented AFN at the United Nations.
1999 South Slave Metis Tribal Council
Advice on the parameters, comparisons, and differences between native title
in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
2000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (Rights and Policy
Strategy for development of new directions for an ATSIC rights policy
2000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (Native Title
Development of a culturally appropriate alternative dispute resolution package
(with Loretta Kelly)
2000 Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation
Development of an Indigenous Rights Strategy (with Mick Dodson and Lisa Strelein)
2000 Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation
Drafting of Legislation for Reconciliation (with Mick Dodson and Lisa Strelein)
2001 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (National Policy
Assistance with development of national rights policy strategy
2001 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (National Policy
Quality Control on Treaty Train the Trainer Modules
2002 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (National Policy Office)
Presentation on policy directions for Constitutional reform, native title and
2002 Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council (NSW)
Development of discussion paper for the NSW Aboriginal Justice Plan
Editorial Committee, Journal of Indigenous Policy 2002-
Editorial Committee, Balayi, 2001-
Advisory Committee, Indigenous Law Reporter, 2001-
Advisory Board, Balayi, 1999-2001
Editor, Law Text Culture, 1998-2001
Assistant Book Review Editor and Contributor, European Journal of International
Editor, Polemic 1990-1992
Assistant Editor and Contributor, Legal Link 1991-1992
Editor, Law School Annual 1991
Assistant Editor and Contributor to Legal Link 1991-1992
Michael Pandelis Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Life of
the Law School – 1991
Lionel Murphy Foundation Scholarship – 1993
University of NSW Alumni of the Year Award – 1993
Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship - 1995, 1996 & 1997
Queens Trust Award - 1995 & 1996
American Association of University Women International Fellowship – 1996
Australian Research Council/DETYA Grant for a project titled “The Protection
of Indigenous Rights in Australia and Canada: A Comparative Study”, 2000-2001
ARC Large Grants: With the Public Law Centre (UNSW) and the Australian Institute
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, a grant for “Public
Law Implications of a Treaty”. ($304 083)
ARC Large Grants: With Ann Curthoys (ANU), a grant for “Use of Historians
as Expert Witnesses in Federal Court cases” ($188 240)
Linkages Grants: With the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
and the Koori Centre, University of Melbourne, “A Treaty between Our
Nations” ($302 941)
RECENT MAJOR LECTURES AND SELECTED KEYNOTE ADDRESSES:
- “Self-determination and Indigenous Policy: the Rights Framework and
Practical Outcomes”, Keynote, Setting the Agenda: ATSIC Policy Conference,
Canberra, 25 March 2002.
- “Power from the People: A Community-Based Approach to Indigenous Self-Determination”,
Elliott Johnston Tribute Lecture, Flinders Law School, 14 May 2002.
- “It’s broke so fix it” A Bill of Rights for Australia,
NSW Parliament House, 21 June, 2002.
- “Treaty , Reconciliation and Negotiation” Sharing the Space Conference,
Keynote, Flinders University, 11 July 2002.
- ‘From Neo-Colonial to Post-Colonial’, Alternative Australias:
Citizenship and Cultural Diversity, Australian Academy of the Humanities and
Australian Academy of the Social Sciences Joint Symposium, Canberra, 12 November,
- ‘Aboriginal Women and Violence’ Twilight Seminar, NSW Judicial
Commission, 6 November 2001
- ‘Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Self Determination’, Keynote,
Self-Determination Conference, University of Queensland, 26 September 2001
- ‘Self-determination’, NSW Centenary of Federation Committee,
Forum on Federalism, NSW Parliament House, 8 August 2001.
- ‘Mind, Body and Spirit: Pathways forward for Self-Determination’,
Morpeth Lecture, 2 August 2001.
- ‘Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples: International Perspectives’,
United Nations Youth Association Conference, Sydney, 10 July, 2001.
- ‘Dinner Talk’, Harvard Club of Australia, National Gallery, Canberra,
17 March, 2001.
- ‘Reconciliation - What it means from Indigenous and non-Indigenous
perspectives’, Deliberative Poll, Issues Deliberation Australia, Old
Parliament House, 17 February, 2001.
- Achieving Social Justice. Annandale: Federation Press, in print. Due 2002.
- Dispute Resolution in Aboriginal Communities. Annandale: Federation Press,
- Lessons from the Mediation Obsession: Ensuring that Sentencing ‘Alternatives’ Focus
on Indigenous Education. In Heather Strang and John Braithwaite (eds.) Restorative
Justice and Family Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 178-190.
- Playing the ‘Other’ in Australia’s Psychological Terra
nullius. In Brad Buckley & John Conomos (eds.) Republics of Ideas: Republicanism
Culture Visual Arts. Annandale, Pluto Press, 2001. 33-44
- Introduction. In Sam Garkawe, Loretta Kelly and Warwick Fisher (eds.). Indigenous
Human Rights. Sydney: Institute of Criminology/Federation Press, 2001. 3-9
- The Benefits of a Formal Mentoring Relationship: “Not my New Best Friend”.
In Bartlett, A. and Mercer, G. (eds.) Postgraduate Research Supervision: Transforming
(R)Elations. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. 211-214
- Charting Democracy and Aboriginal Rights in Australia’s Psychological
Terra Nullius. In Patmore, G., and Glover, D (eds.) New Voices for Social Democracy:
Labor Essays 1999-2000. Melbourne: Pluto Press, 1999. 201-215.
- Strong Role Models. In Bin Sallik, M. (ed.) Aboriginal Women by Degrees.
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2000. 65-76.
- “Bargaining on More then Good Will: Recognising a Fiduciary Obligation
in Native Title”, Land, Rights, Laws: Issues of Native Title. Native
Title Research Unit, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies, Canberra, 2000.
- “The Protection of Indigenous Rights: Contemporary Canadian Comparisons”,
Issues Paper 1999-2000. Department of the Parliamentary Library, Canberra,
Articles (* refereed)
- * “Responsibility in Governance: Implied Rights, Fiduciary Obligation
and Indigenous Peoples” (2002) Australian Journal of Public Administration
Vol. 6, No.2, 106-118
- * “Genocide: The Distance between Law and Life” (2002) Aboriginal
History Vol. 25, 132-147
- “Mabo ten years on – a psychological terra nullius remains” (2002)
Impact July 2002 pp.1, 8-9.
- “Aboriginal Women and the Criminal Justice System” (2002) Judicial
Officers’ Bulletin, Vol. 14, No.6, July 2002, 41-44.
- “Unfinished Journey – Indigenous Self-Determination” (2002)
Arena Magazine, No.58 April-May, 24-27.
- * “Indigenous Self-Determination: Rethinking the Relationship between
Indigenous Peoples and the State” (2001) University of New South Wales
Law Journal 24 (3) 850-861
- * ‘Mind, Body and Spirit: Pathways Forward for Reconciliation’ (2001)
Treaties and Constitutions Vol.5 No.1 38-52
- * “What Path Forward for Reconciliation? The Challenges of a New Relationship
with Indigenous People” (2001) Public Law Review , Vol. 12 (2) 79-83
- * “Towards Improved Rights Protections”, (2001) Journal of Australian
Indigenous Issues, Vol. 3(4), 3.
- * ‘Consent in a (Neo) Colonial Society: Aboriginal Women as Sexual
and Legal ‘Other’, (2000) Australian Feminist Studies Vol.15, no.
- * “The Eliza Fraser Captivity Narrative: A Tale of the Frontier, Femininity
and the Legitimization of Colonial Law”, (2000) 63 Saskatchewan Law Review
- “Righting Australia” Arena Magazine No.45, Feb. – Mar.,
- “White Picket Fences: Australia’s Psychological Terra Nullius”,
51 Constitutional Forum, Vol. 10(2), 1999.
- * “In Your Dreams: Cultural Appropriation, Popular Culture and Colonialism”,
256 Law/Text/Culture, Vol. 4(1), 1998.
- * “Meeting at the Cross Roads: Intersectionality, Affirmative Action
and the Legacies of the Aborigines Protection Board”, 98 Australian Journal
of Human Rights, Vol.4(1), December 1997.
- “At the Back of the Class. At the Front of the Class: Experiences as
Aboriginal Student and Aboriginal Teacher”, 27 Feminist Review, Vol.
- “Womens’ Work: The Inclusion of the Voice of Aboriginal Women”,
169 Legal Education Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1995.
- * “Protecting the Spirit, Preserving the Traditional in Non-Traditional
Settings”, 55 Australian Feminist Law Journal, Vol. 4, 1994.
- * “No-one Can Own the Land”, 43 Australian Journal of Human Rights,
Vol. 1(1), 1994.
- * “Aboriginal Women and the White Lies of the Feminist Movement: Implications
for Rights Discourse”. 27 Australian Feminist Law Journal, Vol. 1, August
- and Saleem Ali, “Mining and Indigenous Rights”, Cultural Survival
Quarterly. Spring 2001.
- And Lisa Strelein, “Old Habits Die Hard: Indigenous Land Rights and
Mining in Australia”, Cultural Survival Quarterly. Spring 2001.
- and Jason Behrendt, “Aborigines and the Police: Bad Apples or Rotten
Fruit?”, Tharunka, 14 April 1992.
- and Jason Behrendt, “Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Since the Royal Commission”,
Aboriginal Law Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 59, December 1992.
- “A Law Unto Ourselves”. Sydney Morning Herald. 15 January, 2001.
Encyclopedias and Companions
- “Aboriginal Women and Crime, Australia”, in Nicole Rafter (ed.)
Encyclopedia of Women and Crime. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 2000.
- “Kruger v. Commonwealth”, in Blackshield, Coper and Williams
(eds.) Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia. Oxford University Press.
- “Freedom of Movement”, in Blackshield, Coper and Williams (eds.)
Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia. Oxford University Press. In
- and Saleem Ali, Cultural Survival Quarterly. Spring 2001.
Activities within the Aboriginal Community
NSW Executive Officer, Black Women’s Action in Education 1999-
Member, Black Women’s Action in Education Foundation 1995-
Member, Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (NSW), 2002-
Member, Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Studies, 2002-
Administrative Clerk, Black Women’s Action in Education Foundation 1992-1994
Steering Committee, Academic Programs, Garma Fesitval, 2001
Member, Research Advisory Council, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) 2000-2002
Member, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Chair, Ethics Committee, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Studies, 1999
Member, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Treaty Think Tank, 2000-
Member, Ngalaya, 2000-
Member, Aboriginal Provisional Government 1993-
Member, National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association 1993-1994
Member, UNSW Aboriginal Students Association 1987-1992
Member, UNSW Aboriginal Students NAIDOC Week Committee 1992
Other Community Activities
Member, ACT Bill of Rights Steering Committee, 2002-2003
Member, Steering Committee, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights Unit,
National Children’s and Youth Law Centre, 2001-
Indigenous Advisory Council, Inspire Foundation, 2001-
Member, Documents Reference Group, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, 2000
Member, Management Committee, Women’s Legal Service (ACT) 1999-2000
Life Member, University of NSW Alumni Association
Member, Harvard Native American Alumni Association
Member, Native American Law Students Association 1994-1997
Member, Aboriginal Justice Committee, Law Society of NSW 1993-1994
Member of AIDS Council of NSW Legal Working Group 1991-1992
Fundraiser, Autistic Children's Association 1986-1987
AIDS Council of NSW Representative at First National Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Conference,
Alice Springs, 1992.