Destruction of Juukan Gorge: Law, Mining, and the Protection of Aboriginal Heritage

On 24 May 2020, Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto destroyed two 46,000 year old rock shelters at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia – the traditional lands of the Puttu, Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples, for whom these sites were sacred. News of the government-approved destruction attracted international condemnation and national soul searching, as attention turned to the manifest failures of Australia’s heritage protection and land rights regimes.

As we await the findings of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia, the Law Reform and Social Justice (LRSJ) program has invited three national experts to share their views on the adequacy of these legal regimes, and the relationship between the extractive industries, Indigenous communities, and the law.

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The event is finished.


23 Nov 2020


5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


  • Dr Virginia Marshall
    Dr Virginia Marshall

    Virginia is the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow with the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society. She is a practising lawyer and duty solicitor, a former associate & researcher with the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney and professional member of the NSW Law Society and Women Lawyers Association of NSW. Former Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Law Reform Commission and inquiry into ‘Family Violence & Commonwealth Laws: Improving Legal Frameworks’ (ALRC 117), Executive Officer of the NSW Government’s ‘Aboriginal Water Trust’ and criminal defence lawyer with NSW Legal Aid.

    Virginia is the winner of the WEH Stanner Award for the best thesis by an Indigenous author, titled, ‘A web of Aboriginal water rights: Examining the competing Aboriginal claim for water property rights and interests in Australia’. She is in demand as a Keynote Speaker on Indigenous water law and governance, Indigenous traditional knowledge systems and the intersectionality of western intellectual property regimes and the Indigenous commercialisation of native foods and medicines.

  • Greg McIntyre SC
    Greg McIntyre SC

    Greg commenced practice with the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia in 1976 in Kalgoorlie. He practised for several years in Western Australia and North Queensland for Aboriginal Legal Services, largely in the area of Criminal Law. He had the conduct of Mabo v Queensland from its commencement in 1982 until judgment in 1992 and has had a practice in Native Title since that time. He was the solicitor for John Koowarta in relation to the High Court’s decision of Koowarta v Bjelke Petersen in 1982 and has had a practice in Racial Discrimination and Human Rights since that time. He appeared for the Appellant in Bropho v Western Australia in the High Court in 1990 and has conducted a number of other cases concerning Aboriginal Heritage protection. He went to the Independent Bar in Western Australia in 1993, was founder of John Toohey Chambers in 1999, took silk in 2001, and was made an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame in 2001 and University of Western Australia in 2016, where he has taught a course on Indigenous Peoples and the Law. He received the Law Award from the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2009.

  • Professor Peter Veth
    Professor Peter Veth

    Peter Veth is a globally-recognised Archaeologist who has carried out research throughout Australia, Torres Strait and Island South East Asia. His research has engaged with desert themes and science for over 30 years including pioneering work with colleagues on the archaeology of the Western Desert, Aru Islands, Timor Leste, Torres Strait, Dampier Archipelago, Barrow and Montebello Islands. He has developed terrestrial and coastal archaeology projects at both undergraduate and doctoral levels with colleagues from Australian, US and UK Universities.

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