Session 3 An introduction to the Australian Legal System

Category: Education

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An introduction to the Australian Legal System 3:

An introduction to the Australian Legal System 3 Why do we need laws? What does the presence of people of other cultures and beliefs mean for the legal system?

Why do we need laws?:

Why do we need laws? To avoid chaos How does law do this? Regulates behaviour Establishes rights, responsibilities and expected behaviour Resolves disputes Promotes social cohesion by reflecting community customs and values

What are community values?:

What are community values? Community values are based on: Social values – family unit (marriage and divorce laws), religious beliefs, anti-discrimination laws, protection of personal freedom Economic values – property ownership, consumer laws

What is the law? Australian law for new arrivals:

What is the law? Australian law for new arrivals Victoria Legal Aid

Culture and customary law:

Culture and customary law Most countries have a legal system, based on written laws, to regulate society All cultures have other traditions and rules that regulate their society. This is sometimes called customary law . In many countries like Australia, there are both sorts of law

Some differences between western law and customary law:

Some differences between western law and customary law Western law Use evidence to try and find out the truth about what happened Customary law The truth is often less important than restoring social stability

Recognition of customary law:

Recognition of customary law Sometimes a custom or practice is recognised by a western court of law. One thing that it must be to be recognised is REASONABLE

So what is the test for reasonableness?:

So what is the test for reasonableness? In South Sudan ‘Over time the courts of Sudan have defined the ‘reasonableness’ of a custom as its conformity with ‘justice, equity and good conscience.’ (From a book by Akechal et al). Some say that the trouble with this definition is that it allows only the judges to decide whether a custom is reasonable. In Australia Australian courts’ idea reasonableness has been historically referred to as what a normal person would consider reasonable. However, what is normal for one person might be detterent to someone else.

Law and society:

Law and society Law’s function It’s main aim is to provide framework so there can be peace and harmony It’s main function is to resolve disputes It defines the kind of community that a majority of people want It protects individual rights It stops behaviour that affects peace and good order Without laws there would be chaos.

Law’s function:

Law’s function Laws Show expected and appropriate behaviour Are efficient Are equal for all people, regardless of background Educate people

Rules and laws:

Rules and laws Laws All people who live in or visit Australia must observe Australian law. Penalties for breaking the law are deterrents. They can help prevent future conflict as people are aware of the consequences if their behaviour is unacceptable Rules There are many rules which are not enforceable under the law e.g. school rules, family rules. A school, family or club will decide on a suitable punishment e.g. detention, expulsion, loss of pocket money

Effective laws:

Effective laws For a law to be effective it needs to be: Clear – people need to be able to understand them Changeable – community ideas change over time so laws need to change to remain acceptable Consistent – they have to be fair to all and the outcomes should be the same for the same actions

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