The nexus between judicial bias against Indigenous Australians and community xenophobia

PhD Thesis


Hagan, Stephen. 2016. The nexus between judicial bias against Indigenous Australians and community xenophobia. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

The nexus between judicial bias against Indigenous Australians and community xenophobia

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorHagan, Stephen
SupervisorHayes, Anna
Connors, Libby
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages260
Year2016
Abstract

This dissertation is a scholarly reflection of my journey as an Aboriginal man who fought unsuccessfully with judges at every tier in Australia’s domestic courts to have a racist public sign displaying the N-word removed at a premier sports venue. Perplexed and in need of answers on the reasons why learned judicial officers in these enlightened times would not be of same thought on the need to eradicate from public space a relic of a racist past, I undertook further research. It was from these investigations on the effects of judicial encounters of other Indigenous Australians in courts of law around the nation that I learnt of the consistency of our shared experiences of unabashed bigotry and bias from magistrates and judges immersed in white privilege.

My research confirmed that once inside the demure surrounds of a courtroom setting immersed with cultural symbols of indifference, many Indigenous people on trial on criminal matters, irrespective of the triviality of their transgression, face the indignity of custodial sentencing. Even when judicial representatives strive to apply the law – equality for all – they will inadvertently be applying Eurocentric beliefs and values. This Anglo Celtic exemplar on societal codes of conduct from which today’s judicial officers were nurtured and influenced by is the principal explanation to why Indigenous youth, women and men are incarcerated at appallingly disproportionate rates to that of their mainstream counterparts.

In finding no evidence to the contrary of First Nations People having a predisposition for criminal activity in life today or an affliction from birth, I conclude the answer to my vexed question rests entirely in the inherent proclivity of judges in assuming an unwavering cultural bias when ruling on race-based matters before them.

It is therefore the proposition of this dissertation that judicial officers are no different from any other career professional whose outlook on life is shaped by community socialisation practices experienced in their lifetime. Over time Whiteness – never having to consider your own racial
identity – becomes unexceptional as it morphs into a community norm and confirms my hypothesis: That there is a nexus between ambiguous race-based judicial determinations and community xenophobia.

Keywordsjudicial bias; Indigenous Australians; community xenophobia; Toowoomba; racism;
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020441013. Sociology of migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism
480499. Law in context not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
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