In 2012, the National Judicial College of Australia through its National Indigenous Justice Committee funded a project whereby a resource would be developed to inform courts and lawyers about many of the distinct Indigenous communities in Queensland. A committee of judges and magistrates in Queensland worked together on the project which has been produced by and for each of the courts.
The Committee consisted of Justice Roslyn Atkinson from the Supreme Court, Justice Berna Collier from the Federal Court of Australia, Justice Colin Forrest from the Family Court of Australia, Judge Michael Shanahan from the District Court, Judge Stephen Coates from the Federal Circuit Court and Magistrates Jacqui Payne and Wendy Cull from the Magistrates Court of Queensland. The project was done in collaboration with the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA) in particular Wayne Briscoe and Marjorie Weber. The funding was used to employ a skilled Indigenous lawyer, Trudie Broderick BA, LLB, LLM who prepared the documents.
The documents profile the history and contemporary circumstances of many different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland as diverse as from Coen to Palm Island to Cunnamulla. They can be read together or used individually. All the documents on the website have been approved by the representatives of the community to whom they relate. The judges and magistrates respectfully acknowledge the contribution made by each community. There is also one document which deals with common issues which should be read in conjunction with the other documents. Judges and magistrates hope that the lawyers who appear before them will find the documents helpful and make such use of them as is appropriate and relevant to people who appear in the courts. The documents are not themselves evidence and so are not determinative for example in native title applications.
The documents were launched by the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Honourable Robert French AC, in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of Queensland on 2 August 2013.
While every effort has been made to respect cultural traditions, readers are advised the documents may contain names and images of people who are deceased.
Each document is hosted on the DATSIMA website and may be accessed from the websites of each of the Supreme Court of Queensland, the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia, the District Court of Queensland, the Federal Circuit Court and the Magistrates Courts of Queensland.