Report finds NT Aboriginal group doesn’t understand legal terms
A new report has found almost all Aboriginal people in one Top End community have no understanding of basic English legal terms. The research conducted by the Aboriginal Resource and Development Service shows 95 per cent of the Yolngu people from north-east Arnhem Land do not understand the meaning of the words bail, consent, remand and charge.
Author Richard Trudgen says many interpreters in the community also lack adequate knowledge of the terms. He says the ‘An Absence of Mutual Respect’ report highlights a real concern within the Australian court system. “One of my colleagues who did the research in the jails and talked about the term guilty – when they [inmates] realised what the term guilty meant they were able to identify some of the things that they were convicted for that they never had anything to do with,” Mr Trudgen said.
“There was a number of charges they said ‘ah well I shouldn’t of been charged with that and that because I had nothing to do with that’.”Many of the Yolngu people use english as a second, third and fourth language. Mr Trudgen says the report also showed many interpreters had problems defining the words.
“Score for what we call language professionals, they got a score of 68 per cent incorrect or had no idea of the meaning so that was pretty disastrous too,” he said.”68 per cent of the words that they have to face in court, just out of this list of 30, they either got it wrong or had no understanding.”