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Nicole Watson


Nicole Watson is a member of the Birri-Gubba People and the Yugambeh language group. Nicole has a bachelor of laws from the University of Queensland and a master of laws from the Queensland University of Technology. Nicole was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1999. She has worked for Legal Aid Queensland, the National Native Title Tribunal and the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency. Nicole is also a former editor of the Indigenous Law Bulletin. Nicole's first novel, 'The Boundary' is being released nationally in June 2011.

Image of Nicole Watson
Senior Lecturer, School of Communication
Core Member, Asia-Pacific Centre for Complex Real Property Rights
Core Member, Centre for Strengthening Indigenous Communities - Jumbunna
+61 2 9514 3814


Watson, N. 2014, 'What do we want? Not native title, that's for bloody sure' in Foley, G., Schaap, A. & Howell, E. (eds), The Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Sovereignty, Black Power, Land Rights and the State, ROUTLEDGE, MILTON PARK ABINGDON OXON UK OX14 4RN, pp. 284-298.
Sherwood, J., Lighton, S.L. & Watson, N. 2013, 'Peer Rupport: Mentoring Responsive and Trusting Relationships' in Craven, R.G. & Mooney, J. (eds), Seeding Success in Indigenous Australian Higher Education, Emerald Group Publishing, Bingley, UK, pp. 187-208.
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Watson, N. 2011, 'Aboriginality and the Land' in Deborah Barnes (ed), Nelson Aboriginal Studies, CENGAGE LEARNING AUSTRALIA, South Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 29-41.
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Watson, N. 2011, 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Identities' in Deborah Barnes (ed), Nelson Aboriginal Studies, Cengage Learning Australia, South Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 43-52.
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Identity has long been and remains a bitterly contested issue. For the Coloniser, the power to define Aboriginal people facilitated colonisation. Terra nullius had the effect of erasing violent dispossession from the historical memory. The power has subsequently been used in various attempts to 'merge' Aboriginal people into Australian society, giving rise to the tragedies of the Stolen Generations. From the perspective of many Aboriginal people, this painful history remains palpable and, consequently, rhe power to define our identity is one that is jealously guarded. This chapter will be divided into two parts. Part 1 will provide a historical analysis of various attempts by the State to define and suppress Aboriginal identity. Part 2 ;viii discuss contemporary issues revolving around identity.
Watson, N. 2011, 'Aboriginalityand the Land Since the 1960s' in Sylvia Marson (ed), ABORIGINAL STUDIES, NELSON CENGAGE LEARNING AUSTRALIA, SOUTH MELBOURNE VIC, pp. 29-41.
Please note that THIS IS NOT A TEXT BOOK as shown on page xii
Watson, N. 2010, 'Death By Inertia - Native Title in the Twenty-First Century' in Andrew Gunstone (ed), Over a Decade of Despair, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, Australia, pp. 31-50.
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this book analyses the impact of the Howard Government on Indigenous Affairs
Watson, N. 2009, 'The New Protection: Indigenous Women and the Contemporary Australian State' in Dreher, T. & Ho, C. (eds), Beyond the Hijab Debates: New Conversations on Gender, Race and Religion, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, pp. 105-117.
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Thursday 21 June 2007 is a date indelibly etched in my mind. It had not been a good week for lndigenous Aushalians. Two days earlier a Townsville jury acquitted the police officer charged with the manslaughter of a young Aboriginal man, Mulrunji. Mulrunji had lived on Palm Island, an Aboriginal community in north Queensland with a tragic history. In 1918, the Queensland Government tumed Palm Island into a penal settlement for Indigenous people who dared to question their oppression (Waters 2008: 28). In the years to follow, Palm Island would become notorious for superintendents who administered sadistic punishments and enforced apartheid (Watson 1995:- 149).
Turner, P. & Watson, N. 2007, 'The Trojan Horse' in Altman, J. & Hinkson, M. (eds), Coercive Reconciliation: Stabilise, Normalise, Exit Aboriginal Australia, Arena Publications Association, North Carlton, Australia, pp. 205-212.
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Boydell, S., Watson, N., Mangioni, V., McMillan, M.D. & Sankaran, S. 2009, 'The Republic and its impact on property rights in Sydney', State of Australian Cities (SOAC) Conference, State of Australian Cities Conference, SOAC, Perth, Australia, pp. 1-21.
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In 1973, the Federal Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures identified that `in our modern complex society, an individualistic approach to property rights and land ownership is incompatible with public interest, unless individual rights are restricted to the use and enjoyment of the land (Else-Mitchell et al., 1973, p.17). We offer a theoretical inquiry into the institutional arrangements to enable an innovative land restitution model for Sydney within a new Republic, by vesting the superior interest in land (and buildings thereon) in the stewardship of the customary indigenous guardians (rather than the State or Crown). The model analyses leasehold solutions and land tax implications to ensure the continued economic growth of the City of Sydney under such a restitution arrangement.
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, Cities Nature Justice: dialogues for social sustainability in public spaces, a UTS Trans/forming cultures symposium, UTS : Trans/forming Cultures, University of Technology, Sydney, 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

Watson, N. 2014, 'Justice in whose eyes? Why lawyers should read black Australian literature', Griffith Law Review, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 44-60.
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Watson, N. 2011, 'The Northern Territory Emergency Response: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same', Alberta Law Review, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 905-918.
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The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) was a raft of measures introduced by the Commonwealth ofAustralia in response to allegations ofchildsexual abuse in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. The measures included the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal lands, the quarantining of welfare payments, prohibitions on alcohol, and the vesting of expansive powers in the Commonwealth Minister to intervene in the affairs of Aboriginal organizations. This article aims to provide a brief historical background of Aboriginal people's experiences with the law in Australia, discuss certain provisions of the NTER, and, finally, examine the consequences three years after the implementation of the NTER.
Watson, N. 2011, 'The Northern Territory Emergency Response Has It Really Improved the Lives of Aboriginal Women and Children?', Australian Feminist Law Journal, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 147-163.
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Watson, N. 2009, 'Of Course It Would Not be Done in Dickson! Why Howard's Battlers Disengaged from the Northern Territory Emergency Response', Borderlands E-Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-19.
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In the name of Aboriginal children, the Howard Government created the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) and thus began a form of apartheid affecting almost seventy per cent of the Northern Territorys Aboriginal population. The NTER facilitated the quarantining of income support payments, the dismantling of protection against unlawful discrimination and the wholesale acquisition of Aboriginal lands. When announcing the NTER, John Howard denied that it was racially motivated, and suggested that had the same circumstances occurred in the middle class suburb of Dickson, similar action would have been taken. While it is outrageous to suggest that any government would ever seize the property interests of middle class families as a response to allegations of child abuse, the Prime Ministers reference to Dickson was nonetheless instructive. This paper will argue that forces within the electorate, such as an obsession with home ownership and the criminalisation of poverty, provided the real impetus for the NTER, rather than genuine crises within Aboriginal communities.
Watson, N. 2009, 'Regulating Alcohol: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?', Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 11, pp. 27-30.
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Strengthening of alcohol restrictions in Indigenous communities - commitment by Bligh Government to be applauded however the Act reduces the scope for effective partnerships between Government and Indigenous communities - closure of Aborigines Welfare Fund (AWF) - increased police search powers - need for community consultation.
Watson, N. 2008, 'The Abuse of Indigenous Land Tenure as a Tool of Social Engineering', Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, vol. 1, no. 1 & 2, pp. 163-170.
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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.
Watson, N. 2008, 'The Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008 (Qld): Cause For Concern', Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 8, pp. 18-20.
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Watson, N. 2008, 'Raiders of the Lost Capital', Ngiya: Talk the Law, vol. 2, pp. 49-61.
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Watson, N. 2007, 'Implications Of Land Rights Reform For Indigenous Health', Medical Journal Of Australia, vol. 186, no. 10, pp. 534-536.
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In August 2006, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 (Cwlth) was passed into law, introducing, among other things, a system of 99-year leases over Indigenous townships. The leasing scheme will diminish the control that trad
Walsh, S.J., Mitchell, R.J., Watson, N. & Buckleton, J.S. 2007, 'A comprehensive analysis of microsatellite diversity in Aboriginal Australians', Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 52, no. 9, pp. 712-728.
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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.
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Watson, N. 2006, 'Howard's End: The Real Agenda Behind the Proposed Review of Indigenous Land Titles', Australian Indigenous Law Reporter, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 1-12.
Watson, N. & Davis, M.J. 2006, '"It's the Same Old Song": Draconian Counter-Terrorism Laws and the Deja Vu of Indigenous Australians', Borderlands E-Journal, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-8.
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Over the course of the past four years, the Australian government's legislative response to the terrorist attacks in New York 11 September 2001 has been controversial. Central to the legislative response package has been the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 (Cth) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2003 (Cth) which has been scrutinised by many sectors of the Australian community for the way in which it impinges upon the fundamental human rights of all Australians such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association.
Watson, N. 2006, 'The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Bill 2005 Cth: Coming Soon to a Community Organisation Near You', Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 19, pp. 13-16.
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In June 2005, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, announced that the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Bill 2005 (Cth) (`CATSIB) would replace the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 (Cth) (`ACAA). Senator Vanstone described the CATSIB as a response to Indigenous demands for greater scrutiny of community organisations: Indigenous people expect their corporations to provide the best possible services and they are sick and tired of being the victims of unscrupulous or incompetent administrators. This Bill is an important part of the Governments reforms and will ensure that Aboriginal people get a better deal and better value for money.[1] This paper will argue that the CATSIB is more likely to frustrate Indigenous organisations than deliver `a better deal. Although the Bill has some positive features, it is a complex regime that has the potential to usurp Indigenous self-determination. This paper will be divided into two parts. Part One will discuss the history of the ACAA and deficiencies identified by various reviews. Part Two will analyse key provisions of the CATSIB.
Watson, N. 2005, 'Indigenous People in Legal Education: Staring into a Mirror without Reflection', Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 8, pp. 4-7.
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Watson, N. 2003, 'The Repatriation of Indigenous Remains in the United States of America and Australia: A Comparative Analysis', Australian Indigenous Law Reporter, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 33-44.
Watson, N. & Black, R. 2001, 'New Cultural Heritage Legislation: One Small Step for Murris, One Giant Leap Forward for the Queensland Government', Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 13, pp. 8-78.
Watson, N. 2001, 'A Denial of Religious Freedoms: Section 190C(3) of the Native Title Act', Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 7, pp. 4-7.


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.