Aboriginal people and the law

Legislation, regulations, gazettes, committee reports, law

State Library Victoria


The Library is closed from December 25 to January 3. From January 4 2021 we will be partially open to pre-booked and walk-up visitors and our Ask A Librarian service will resume for assistance with your research inquiries online and over the phone.

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Subject librarian

Jane Miller's picture
Jane Miller
Contact me via our online reference service, citing my name and the title of this guide

Getting started

This guide will help you trace legislation and related government publications governing the relationships between Aboriginal people and government in Victoria from 1869 (the Aborigines' Protection Act) to the Aboriginal Lands Act of 1970. Current legislation and legal developments are covered in the section on current law.

The Library holds a comprehensive collection, increasingly supplemented by digitising projects from agencies such as AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies), AustLII (Australasian Legal Information Institute), and governments themselves. 

Included are references to some New South Wales, Commonwealth and British resources as they either assess conditions or effect decision making in Port Phillip (later Victoria).

Sections of this guide are based on an article included in the May 2010 issue of the La Trobe journal - Indigenous Victorians : repressed, resourceful and respected.

For more guidance on legal information look at these other State Library research guides:

Batman's treaty with the Aborigines at Merri Creek

Batman's treaty with the Aborigines at Merri Creek, 6th June 1835 H92.196

Batman's treaty with the Aborigines at Merri Creek. Accession No. H92.196

To read

This article by Frances Thiele Superintendent La Trobe and the amenability of Aboriginal people to British law 1839-1846 discusses the issues relating to the legal status of Aboriginal people in the first years of the colony of Port Phillip.

Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria, September 2009.

Public Record Office guide

Walata tyamateetj: a guide to Government archival records about Aboriginal people in Victoria - covers the collections of the Public Record Office Victoria and National Archives.

Right Wrongs

Right Wrongs is an initiative of the Indigenous Project Group of the national and state libraries. (NSLA)

It is a joint exhibition across the archives of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), NSLA  and the ABC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum which changed the way Aboriginal people were referred to in the Constitution.

There is a full list available of the items used in the exhibition.

Useful links