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ALAA Conference

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An exciting line up of well-respected speakers shall be presenting at the ALAA 2019 Conference. Details of speakers will be announced as soon as arrangements are confirmed.

Keynote Speakers

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Irene Watson belongs to the Tanganekald, Meintangk and Boandik First Nations Peoples of the Coorong and the south-east region of South Australia.  Professor Irene Watson is the Pro Vice Chancellor Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy, and Professor of Law with the School of Law, University of South Australia, where her teaching and research focuses primarily on Indigenous Peoples in both domestic and international law. She has published extensively on colonialism and First Nations Law and has worked as a legal practitioner and an advocate within international fora. Recent publications include Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law (Routledge, 2015) and Indigenous Peoples as Subjects in International Law (Routledge 2017).

Pro Vice Chancellor Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy, and Professor of Law with the School of Law, University of South Australia

Professor Irene Watson

Abstract: Centering Aboriginal Law brings its own truth

The truth is First Nations Peoples were here first and have been here forever. We have our own laws which have sustained our ancient ways for thousands of years. 

But this truth is not seen through a terra nullius lens.

For First Nations, ‘post truth’ began when we entered the Captain Cook times of history.  Aboriginal truths were made invisible by colonialism, an invisibility that is maintained today.

In failing to acknowledge First Nations our laws and cultures have been denied existence, and if deemed to exist, they do so only to the extent they mirror neo-liberal agendas. As for example native title law and some other forms of ‘Aboriginal recognition’ which the colonisers have allowed.

In this paper, I will discuss some of the conundra which arise in this post-truth space.

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Jane Kelsey specializes in international economic law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where she has taught since 1979. Jane critiques international trade and investment agreements as instruments for embedding neoliberalism, and actively monitors negotiations, most recently the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Since 2015, Jane has been analysing the implications of rapidly evolving texts on electronic commerce, especially for the global South. In addition to academic articles on these issues, she has written many technical reports, addressed international conferences, briefed governments and affected sectors, and run training workshops for government officials, legislators, trade unions, and civil society.

Faculty of Law, The University of Auckland

Professor Jane Kelsey

Abstract: All Power to GAFA-A: Surrendering regulatory authority over Big Tech in the name of ‘trade’

Every day we are - belatedly - coming to understand the power that Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Ali-Baba have accumulated, free from regulation. They have become the arbiters of people’s reality through search engines, digital market-places and pervasive surveillance. Consciously or otherwise, they manipulate elections and foreign policy, enable wars and civil uprisings. As corporations, employers and tax citizens, Big Tech operate in an ethical void that is enhanced by their global scale and mercurial identity. National and international law are increasingly disempowered, whether in the fields of employment, tax, competition, human rights and anti-discrimination, consumer protection, or privacy.

 As calls for regulation grow, there is a stunning but little known paradox – our governments have been negotiating binding, enduring and enforceable international ‘trade’ rules that guarantee the Big Tech oligopolies will continue to operate in a largely regulation-free zone.  Currently, Australia and New Zealand are spearheading moves to take the ground-breaking electronic commerce rules of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, literally designed by and for GAFA - to the world.  Using some contemporary examples from Australia and New Zealand, this paper argues that our governments are surrendering the regulatory space that will be required to address the rapidly evolving challenges poses by the digital revolution in a ‘post-truth’ world.

Plenary Panel Speakers

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Marcelle Burns is a Gomeroi-Kamilaroi first nations’ woman and lecturer at the School of Law, University of New England (UNE).  She has over twenty years’ experience in the field of Indigenous peoples and law, working as both as a lawyer and academic.  Her legal professional experience includes working as a solicitor with the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited, the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, and in private practice assisting in native title and land rights claims.  As an academic she has contributed to developing Indigenous inclusive legal curriculum at UNE, Queensland University of Technology and Southern Cross University.  Her main research interests include the recognition of First Nations in international and domestic laws, and the inclusion of Indigenous knowledges and cultural competency in legal education.  From 2015-2018 she was the Project Leader for the Indigenous Cultural Competency for Legal Academics Program, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education of Training.  Marcelle is also a member of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium and the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial (Armidale Branch).  Marcelle’s contributions to Indigenous legal education, research and legal practice were recognised by her being awarded Southern Cross University’s School of Law and Justice Alumnus of the Year in 2017.  Her work on Indigenous cultural competency in law curricula was acknowledged by the UNE Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Research in 2018.

Lecturer, School of Law

University of New England

Marcelle Burns


Eddie is an Aboriginal man with strong family links in both the urban and rural areas throughout the Northern Territory. His mother is of Larrakia/Wadjigan descent and his father is Central Arrente. Mr Cubillo's family has experienced the intergenerational effects of the policy of forced removal of children of mixed descent from their family and country.

He has developed a sound understanding of Aboriginal culture, society and politics and he has contributed to the needs of Aboriginal people as individuals and for the benefit of the community as a whole. His family background, combined with his community and cultural ties has brought him into contact with people of different backgrounds.

Mr Cubillo has over 25 years' experience working at the grass roots of Aboriginal affairs. In 2002 he was elected to the ATSIC Yilli Rreung Regional Council, and subsequently became the Chair of that Council. Mr Cubillo has also been a former Chair of both the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (NT).

In 2001 he obtained a Bachelor of Laws Degree and in 2002 he was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. In 2009 Mr Cubillo completed a Masters of Laws (International Law and International Relations) at Flinders University.

In 2010 Mr Cubillo was appointed the Anti - Discrimination Commissioner of the Northern Territory and following his term, Mr Cubillo took on the role of Executive Officer with National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (NATSILS). As the Executive Officer he championed the rights of Indigenous Australians in a legal context. In 2015 Eddie was named the National Indigenous Legal Professional of the year and in 2016 attended Geneva on a UN Indigenous fellowship. Mr Cubillo worked for Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council till 2017 were he then took up an opportunity to work on the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory as the Director of Community Engagement. He is currently undertaking a PhD with the University of Technology of Sydney and is working part-time at the University of Melbourne’s Law School as a Senior Indigenous Fellow.

Senior Indigenous Fellow

Melbourne Law School

Eddie Cubillo

Dr Heron Loban is a Senior Lecturer within the Griffith Law School, at Griffith University. Heron is a Torres Strait Islander with family ties to Mabuiag and Boigu Islands. She practised on Thursday Island as a solicitor for many years, firstly as a native title solicitor at the Torres Strait Regional Authority, and then as a solicitor in general practice at the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Legal Service. She has a strong research background in Indigenous justice issues particularly around consumer law. Heron has been on numerous advisory groups and boards of Indigenous not-for-profit corporations including currently Membership of the Domestic and Family Violence Council Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group, Department of Premier and Cabinet (Queensland) and as a Chief Minister (NT) Appointed Director of Desert Knowledge Australia.In addition to her experience in legal practice in criminal law and native title, she has published numerous papers on the ongoing law and justice issues affecting Indigenous people in Australia.

Senior Lecturer

Griffith Law School

Dr Heron Loban

Annette Gainsford is a Wiradjuri woman from Bathurst, is a Lecturer in Law and Justice and an Indigenous Academic Fellow at Charles Sturt University. Annette has a background in social justice education with extensive experience in developing and maintaining collaborative community partnerships to enhance the design of tertiary curriculum and to advance outcomes for Indigenous students.  Annette has a particular interest in the Indigenisation of curriculum and has worked on the embedding Indigenous cultural competency across the law, criminal justice, education and business disciplines. Annette’s current PhD research focuses on the embedding on Indigenous knowledges in higher education which examines international case studies in law.

Lecturer in Law and Justice and Indigenous Fellow

Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University

Annette Gainsford