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Dr Larissa Behrendt

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, Sydney.

“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 Advisory Committee.

“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 them.”

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.”

(Story 1/7/2004 end)

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 of Alberta

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)
“¢ Solicitor
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 land rights

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 Law 1997-1998
“¢ 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 ($14,500)
“”¢ 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)


– “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, 2001.
– “”˜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, 1995.

Book Chapters
– 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.

Issues Papers
– “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, 2000.

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. 33. 353-367.
– * “The Eliza Fraser Captivity Narrative: A Tale of the Frontier, Femininity and the Legitimization of Colonial Law””, (2000) 63 Saskatchewan Law Review 145
– “Righting Australia”” Arena Magazine No.45, Feb. “””” Mar., 2000. 24-26
– “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. 52, 1996.
– “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 1993.

Co-Authored Articles
– 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.

Newspaper Articles
– “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. In print.
– “Freedom of Movement””, in Blackshield, Coper and Williams (eds.) Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia. Oxford University Press. In print.

Edited Editions
– 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 (AIATSIS) 1998-
“”¢ 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.

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