Indigenous Children’s Right to Participate in Law and Policy Development  book cover
1st Edition

Indigenous Children’s Right to Participate in Law and Policy Development

ISBN 9781138564664
Published September 29, 2021 by Routledge
302 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $155.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book presents a model for reforming and developing Indigenous related legislation and policy, not only in Australia, but also in other jurisdictions. The model provides guidance about how to seek, listen to and respond to the voices of Indigenous children and young people.

The participation of Indigenous children and young people, when carried out in a culturally and age-appropriate way and based on free, prior and informed consent, is an invaluable resource capable of empowering children and young people and informing Indigenous related legislation and policy. This project contributes to the emerging field of robust, ethically sound, participatory research with Indigenous children and young people and proposes ways in which Australian and international legislators and policymakers can implement the principle of children’s participation by involving Aboriginal children and young people in the development of law and policy pertaining to their lives.

This book provides accounts from Aboriginal children and young people detailing their views on how they can be involved in law and policy development in the future. It shows the latest state of knowledge on the topic and will be of interest to researchers, academics, policymakers, legislators, and students in the fields of human rights law, children’s rights, participation rights, Indigenous peoples’ law, and family, child and social welfare law.

Table of Contents

1. Demanding Aboriginal Children’s Rights

2. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and Children’s Participation

3. Rethinking Childhood and Children’s Participation

4. Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Views about the Northern Territory Intervention

5. Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Views about Participating in Law and Policy Development

6. A Model for Indigenous Children and Young People’s Participation in Public Decision-Making

7. Advancing Participation: Involvement not Intervention


View More



Holly Doel-Mackaway is a Senior Lecturer at the Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University, Sydney.


"This is a much-needed book for many reasons, most of all because of the resounding call for action it contains. This call for action comes directly from Aboriginal children and young people themselves who, through field research Dr Doel-Mackaway undertook for this book, ask the Australian government to listen to them, to take them seriously, and to stop making laws about them without them. Chapter after chapter, it calls on governments to reconceptualise their relationship with young Indigenous people and engage them in the design of laws and policies affecting them.

This book is internationally relevant because the call to enact children’s participatory rights reverberates across many countries where governments continue to ignore or silence children’s experiences and perspectives. Importantly, this book presents a child rights-based model for the participation of Indigenous children in decision-making and offers practical ways public officials can implement the participatory rights contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This book is a vital contribution to the goal of advancing Indigenous children’s rights."

Professor Laura Lundy — Professor, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University, Belfast.

"Three decades after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to participation remains among the most important, but also the most elusive, of children's human rights. It is especially elusive for children whose voices and communities remain on the margins of society.  Meticulously researched, this book represents one of the few studies of Aboriginal children's participation in Australia and makes an extraordinary contribution to both the conceptualisation and practice of participation. It demonstrates the power of children's knowledge and perspectives, and in doing so challenges public policies that entrench racism and marginalisation. Importantly, it provides a pathway forward that genuinely includes young First Nations people, their families, and communities. It is essential reading for all who are committed to human rights and social justice in Australia and beyond. "

Professor Sharon Bessell, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

"For too long the voices of Australia’s Indigenous children have been excluded from debates about issues that affect them. Dr Doel-Mackaway’s work therefore represents a significant and important piece of scholarship in sensitively and respectfully capturing the views of Indigenous children with respect to the highly contentious ‘Intervention’ in the Northern Territory. She also offers an innovative fusion of child rights scholarship with Indigenous research methodologies to create a model for enabling effective and ethical participatory research with Indigenous children which will have enduring effect. This book will be of great interest and benefit to anyone seeking to improve the lives of Indigenous children."

Professor John Tobin, Francine V McNiff Chair in International Human Rights Law, Melbourne Law School


"Culturally strong, clever, funny; the voices of Aboriginal children and young people ring clear and true. The stories the children tell here establish convincingly that Aboriginal children have a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of not just their own communities, but also of the machinations of the nation state to enact laws and policies which affect their lives. While Dr Doel-Mackaway adroitly sketches the relevant legal and policy-making mechanisms, she never loses sight of the children, whose capacity to speak is abundantly evident."

Professor Susan Page, Director of Indigenous Learning and Teaching, Western Sydney University

"Indigenous Children’s Participation in Law and Policy Development provides a unique and seldom heard view of law and policy making in Australia. By engaging with Indigenous children's experiences and opinions, Dr Doel-Mackaway demonstrates the extraordinary capacity of Indigenous children to understand, interpret and form their own opinions of legal and political matters affecting them. Engaging with Indigenous children experiencing the impacts of the Northern Territory Intervention captures an important moment in history and explores this moment through the eyes of a child."

Bhiamie Williamson, Research Associate, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), Australian National University.