SOSC2004 - Indigenous Peoples and Justice

Criminology Unit


One trimester



Credit points: 




Mode(s) of delivery:




Unit Objective

To introduce students to the nature of indigenous culture and provide understanding of its relevance in shaping positive indigenous interactions in 21st century Australia

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • Identify who indigenous peoples are, how they came to Australia and their early pre-colonial lifestyles;
  • Understand the nature of indigenous culture and the importance of spirituality, dreamtime and connection to country;
  • Describe the impact of colonialism on indigenous culture;
  • Explain historical and current issues relating to the impact that the criminal justice system has on indigenous peoples;
  • Appreciate the impacts of western culture on mental health and well-being of indigenous people;
  • Value the contribution that indigenous people have made to Australia.

Unit Content

The unit will introduce students to the concept of first nation peoples in Australia and worldwide. It will explore early indigenous culture, kinship relationships, and the significance of spirituality, customary law and the impacts of colonialisation.  The social, political and moral implications of the imposition of a non-indigenous governance system on indigenous peoples will be addressed.

Students will explore specific periods of Australian history to seek areas of greatest impact on indigenous culture and lifestyle. In doing so, the unit will identify key decisions like “Mabo” and “Wik” and abiding issues such as the stolen generations to explain the changing attitudes of society to indigenous peoples,  land rights and self-determination.  Students will deconstruct the high rates of mortality and morbidity experienced by indigenous peoples, as well as the numerous issues indigenous peoples encounter when coming into contact with the criminal justice system (CJS).  Specifically, the unit will examine the over-representation of indigenous peoples within the CJS and strategies employed to overcome this, including those recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

The unit will conclude with a reflection on culturally appropriate initiatives to create opportunities for self-determination.  

Unit Workload

1 x 2 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial each week for 12 weeks. The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week

Assessment summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of trimester.