find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Legal language lost in translation for indigenous communities

Legal language lost in translation for indigenous communities

Dr Samantha Disbray

Miscommunication in the law is a major obstacle in the pursuit of social justice for Aboriginal communities, a Charles Darwin University (CDU) researcher has said.

Linguist Dr Samantha Disbray (pictured) from CDU's Northern Institute has started the Language and the Law Project to bridge the divide between Aboriginal Australians and the criminal justice system.

Her project aims to help Aboriginal speakers of three distinct Central Australian languages understand legal words and their implications.

“The legal system is fertile ground for controversy about words and their meanings and who understands what in the context of criminal trials and other legal interactions,” said Dr Disbray.

Even seemingly minor misunderstandings can have significant implications when used in a legal context. For instance, in Aboriginal varieties of English the word ‘guilty’ can be an expression of remorse or it can indicate legally-established culpability.

The word ‘to kill’ can mean committing a violent act that results in a death, but is also a synonym for ‘hit’ or ‘beat’.

The project, which is funded by a $28,000 grant from the Law Society Public Purposes Trust, aims to reduce the “alarmingly high” incarceration rate of indigenous people in the Northern Territory by making the legal profession and justice system aware of the potential for communication issues.

“I have already visited Tennant Creek to identify ‘communication issues’ specific to speakers of the Warumungu language and the related and widely-used new language, Wumpurrarni English," Dr Disbray said.

“Two other language specialists will undertake similar work in relation to the Alyawarra and Pitjantjatjara languages."

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Legal language lost in translation for indigenous communities
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 23 2017
Education a passion for YL president
Promoted by University of Melbourne. Melbourne Law Masters student Phoebe Blank is successfully j...
Crowd
Nov 23 2017
Anti-radicalisation programs playing ‘second fiddle’ to terrorism laws
Several academics have questioned the balance between Australia’s counterterrorism legislation and...
 William Ah Ket
Nov 23 2017
‘Bamboo ceiling’ thought piece wins inaugural law prize
A paper that explores the idea of affirmative action to achieve greater diversity among members of A...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...