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Professor Larissa Behrendt


Prof. Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman. She is the Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of the ACT and NSW as a barrister.

Larissa is a Land Commissioner at the Land and Environment Court and the Alternate Chair of the Serious Offenders Review Board, a member of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and a founding member of the Australian Academy of Law. She is the Chair of the Humanities and Creative Arts panel of the Australian Research Council College of Experts.

She is the author of several books on Indigenous legal issues. She won the 2002 David Uniapon Award and a 2005 Commonwealth WriterÕs Prize for her novel Home. Her latest novel, Legacy, is due for release in October this year. Larissa is a Board Member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, a board member of Tranby Aboriginal College and a Director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre. She was named as 2009 NAIDOC Person of the Year.


Latest Speeches/Papers
The Apology One Year on..., UTS. 13 February 2009.
UTS Speaks, March 19 2008
Shaping a nation: Visionary ledership in a time of fear and uncertainty, Ninth JCPML Anniversary Lecture, marking the 62nd anniversary of John Curtin's death, 5 July 2007.
Is Sorry Enough? December 2006

Speech at the Indigenous Labor Network Forum Wednesday 13th July 2005

Image of Larissa Behrendt
Professor, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning
Director, Centre for Strengthening Indigenous Communities - Jumbunna
Core Member, Centre for Strengthening Indigenous Communities - Jumbunna
LLB/B.Juris (UNSW), LLM (Harvard), SJD (Harvard)
+61 2 9514 9655
Can supervise: Yes


Behrendt, L.Y., Libesman, T. & Cunneen, C. 2009, Indigenous Legal Relations in Australia, 1, Oxford University Press, Australia.
Indigenous peoples' relationship with Australian and international law in a histrorical and social context.


Boydell, S., Behrendt, L.Y., Goodall, H., Sankaran, S., Watson, N., Mangioni, V., McMillan, M.D. & McDermott, M.D. 2008, 'Sydney Restored: Aboriginal ownership of city spaces', Cities Nature Justice: Abstracts, UTS : Trans/forming Cultures, http://www.transforming.cultures.uts.edu.au/news_events/CNJ_abstracts.html, pp. 1-1.
Challenge Grant output, presented by Nicole Watson This paper explores an irredentist model of justice in the city, one in which Aboriginal title is taken as the superior property interest over Sydney. It reports on a trans-disciplinary UTS funded research initiative investigating the impact on the institutional landscape of a solution that prioritises the human and property rights of the indigenous population. Methodologically, this research adopts what Creswell and Tashakkori (2007) refer to as a paradigm perspective. The approach integrates an eclectic combination of research modes into history, law, social inquiry, theory, practice, and beliefs, with the attitudes of finance, finance providers, capital users and indigenous property owners. Such a dynamic trans-disciplinary engagement demands that the researchers discuss an overarching worldview (or several worldviews) that provide a philosophical foundation for mixed methods research. Building on the role of land in Aboriginal politics, we explore Native title and the interplay with freehold and leasehold models. Our model raises a range of issues for the contemporary commons. as well as conceptions of ownership when long leasehold interests replace freehold titles. Whilst in the short term, we suggest that there is no significant financial impact on those holding the new 99-year tenancies, a range of issues arise in respect of the reversionary interest including rights, obligations, and restrictions surrounding improvements on the land. We also highlight the complexity surrounding land tax and the role of the State in such a model.

Journal articles

Behrendt, L.Y. & Watson, N. 2008, 'A Response to Louis Nowra', The Alternative Law Journal, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 45-47.
It is easyt o understandw hy it is that when non- Aboriginal people see images of crisis in Aboriginal I communities they are moved to do something.But sometimes those good intentions are not enough. In the samew ay the architects of the removal policy who thoughtt hat assimilation was in the best interests of Aboriginal children often did not see the tragic consequences so those they were trying to help, it can often be the case that attempts to help can do more harm than good.
Behrendt, L.Y. & Watson, N. 2007, 'Shifting Ground: Why Land Rights and native Title Have Not Delivered Social Justice', Journal of Indigenous Policy, vol. 8, pp. 94-102.


Nicholson, A., Behrendt, L.Y., Vivian, A.M., Watson, N. & Harris, M. Concerned Australians 2009, Will They Be Heard? A response to the NTER Consultations, June to August 2009, pp. 1-45, Melbourne, Australia.
This Report has its genesis in the great work done by the group known as `concerned Australians in conjunction with the relevant Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory and in the tireless enthusiasm of Michele Harris, who is one of the co-authors of this Report. We are particularly fortunate to have the involvement of the other co-authors Larissa Behrendt and Nicole Watson, both of whom are Aboriginal and Alison Vivian, who bring their own particular knowledge and appreciation of the problems discussed.
Behrendt, L.Y., Watson, N., McCausland, R. & Vivian, A.M. Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board 2008, Submission to the Review of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response, pp. 1-110, Canberra.