Matthew Walsh Presenting

On a bright and warm Thursday afternoon, students and staff gathered at Charney Hall to hear from Professor Matthew Walsh on Australian Aboriginal history. The event was co-organized by the Center for Justice and Public Service and the Center for Global Law and Policy.

Matthew WalshWalsh—an Anēwan man and academic at the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney—teaches indigenous law and environmental law. He is the executive manager of research at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney, and studies indigenous nation-building and convergence between indigenous and colonial communities.

Following a brief introduction from Professor Evangeline Abriel, Director of Santa Clara Law’s Center for Social Justice and Public Service, Walsh delved into the history of Australia and the conflict between indigenous and colonial communities including the White Australia Policy. “Children would be taken from their parents and would be sent out to families to be ‘civilized,’” Walsh noted. He further commented on the history of colonies in Australia, and then on the modern-day impact of that history. “Forty percent of ‘stolen generation’ Aboriginal people aged fifty-plus have poor mental health due to the trauma of removal.”

Matthew Walsh, Evangeline Abriel, and law studentThe conversation later shifted to the legal battles for Aboriginal rights in Australia and its similarities to the struggles of Native Americans in the United States. Walsh shared examples of legal movements to promote indigenous rights such as the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, an Australian government program to report anti-inequality initiatives annually. When asked if Australia has seen tangible change, Walsh strongly affirmed the effectiveness of legal activism. “As social justice lawyers in the future or now,” he remarked, “one thing we do get to tell our law students is that these cases have innovative lawyers looking to assist. They go to these indigenous nations and say, ‘How can I help you?’ The law will never tell that story.”

Professor Walsh is a summer visiting lecturer at our Sydney study abroad program where he teaches indigenous law and policy; we are thrilled to welcome him to Santa Clara and to have him share his work and promote our world-class study abroad programs. Applications for our Sydney program are open now!

Apply to our Sydney program here.

See Professor Walsh’s publications here.