NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton recently decided to refer an application for a retrial in relation to the deaths of Aboriginal children killed in Bowraville in NSW more than 25 years ago to the Court of Criminal Appeal. This decision confirmed for Professor Larissa Behrendt that advocates should “never say never”. Behrendt worked closely with police to prepare the application after the families of Evelyn Greenup, Colleen Walker-Craig and Clinton-Speedy-Duroux contacted her several years ago in her role as Chair of Indigenous Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. Behrendt talks about her support for the Bowraville families, her approach to research with Aboriginal communities, and why storytelling is central to law reform.
Larissa Behrendt is a storyteller. The law is central to her work, but her pursuit of new ways to tell stories is equally significant.
Behrendt’s most recent initiative is hosting an ABC Local Radio show called Speaking Out. It’s about politics, arts and culture from a range of Indigenous perspectives and it’s broadcast nationally on Sunday nights. Radio is a new medium for Behrendt, but the topics she explores with her Indigenous guests from around Australia and the world are consistent with her work as a fiction and non-fiction writer, academic and filmmaker.
Her exploration of the value of constitutional recognition for Indigenous people was discussed in her 2002 book, Achieving Social Justice, and it is still a topic for her radio guests nearly 15 years later. Persistence and patience are essential in the fight for justice, as the Bowraville families are only too aware.