Evidence law to reflect Aboriginal customs

The rules of evidence in South Australian courts are set to be changed to better reflect traditional Aboriginal laws and customs.

The state government will introduce a bill to parliament later this year, to take into account that information about Indigenous practices and customs are passed down verbally by Aboriginal elders.

In the court process, these practices and customs could run foul of hearsay rules, preventing people giving evidence about statements made by others and also the opinion rule which prohibits witnesses from giving opinions about matters they have not personally witnessed.

"Oral storytelling and histories are a vital part of Aboriginal culture and have been for thousands of generations," Attorney-General Kyam Maher said.

"Evidence on such matters could presently only be presented by an anthropologist or similarly qualified and often non-Aboriginal expert.

"Our legal system should recognise Aboriginal people as the true experts in their culture."

The government will consult with stakeholders including the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, South Australia Police, the Law Society of South Australia, the Crown Solicitor's Office, the South Australian Bar Association and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Maher said those consultations would determine the best means for Aboriginal people to give evidence and would impact the legislation to be presented to parliament.