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Customary law

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have complex codes of conduct to guide people’s behaviour. Today, every Australian is answerable to Australia’s laws. Traditional or customary law in no way substitutes for Australian law but it can coexist and guide a community on how to behave according to traditional beliefs and practices. In the same way, other religions follow particular protocols, laws, ceremony and behaviours, while they also abide by our nation’s laws.

In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, codes of conduct cover behaviour around leadership and etiquette, property, laws around special events like marriage, coming of age and death and sacred knowledge. These codes are historically very diverse requiring keen effort by families over millenia to preserve these systems of knowledge. 

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