In this seminar, the presenters, both of whom are Indigenous legal scholars, reflect on changes to Indigenous people’s engagement with legal education since 2005. The year 2005 was chosen as the beginning point for our analysis because this was the year that Dr Watson published her article, ‘Indigenous People in Legal Education: Staring into a Mirror without Reflection1.' This brief article was a vociferous critique of the treatment of Indigenous academics and students in Australian law schools. At the time, Indigenous perspectives of the law were mostly absent from legal texts, and for the few Indigenous scholars to gain employment in law schools, the experience was often clouded by isolation and a lack of job security.

During the ensuing years Dr Watson’s article was read widely. Academics have debated her claim that Australian law schools are racial hierarchies inimical to the knowledge, histories and worldviews of Indigenous people. The experiences of some Indigenous students have found resonance in Watson’s critique. At the same time, both authors have had the privilege of observing more Indigenous people pursue legal education, and they have witnessed the gradual filtering of Indigenous people’s perspectives into curricula. Cultural change within law schools, however, remains elusive. Therefore, it is timely to reflect upon what really has changed since 2005, and consider the question – can Indigenous people now see themselves reflected in legal education?

Presenter biographies

Nicole Watson is a member of the Munanjali people of Beaudesert and the Birri Gubba of central Queensland. She has published a large body of work on legal issues that are pertinent to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Watson also has an interest in crime fiction. She published her first crime novel ‘The Boundary’ in 2011. She is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, University of Sydney.

Asmi Wood is an ANU Distinguished Educator and the Sub-Dean (Indigenous) in the ANU College of Law. Wood’s PhD examined the legality or otherwise of the use of force by non-state actors under international law and in cases, domestic Australian law. His current research is in the areas of constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, and Indigenous participation in higher education.

Open event

Please note, this event is open to the public.

Nicole Watson, ‘Indigenous People in Legal Education: Staring into a Mirror without Reflection’ (1998) 6(8) Indigenous Law Bulletin 4.


Level 3, Forgan Smith building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia campus
Sir Gerard Brennan Boardroom (W353)