Sentencing Aboriginal Offenders: Recognising Disadvantage and the Intergenerational Impacts of Colonisation

  • Carolyn Holdom University of Queensland


The ongoing issue of Aboriginal disadvantage, particularly the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in Australian prisons warrants a change in sentencing practices and outcomes. There is a current failure by Australian Courts to properly account for the systemic disadvantage suffered by Aboriginal Australians during the sentencing process. Given the intergenerational impacts of colonisation and an arguable new generation of institutionalised Aboriginal children, consideration of the effects of colonisation is still largely relevant today. The High Court in Bugmy v The Queen[1] and Munda v Western Australia[2] have provided little assistance, however the law in Canada could assist Australian courts when it comes to sentencing Aboriginal offenders.

[1] Bugmy v The Queen (2013) 302 ALR 192.

[2] Munda v Western Australia (2013) 302 ALR 207.


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