Law Reform and Social Justice

Law Reform and Social Justice

Through its teaching curriculum, academic research and social justice initiatives, Law Reform and Social Justice at the ANU College of Law provides opportunities for students to explore and interrogate the complex role of law in society, and the part that lawyers play in promoting both change and stability.

Law Reform and Social Justice supports the integration of law reform and the principles of social justice into teaching, research and study across the College. It also facilitates a broad range of student projects, hosts a regular series of events, and produces a PDF icon guide to legal volunteering in the ACT (448.93 KB).

To find out about opportunities to get involved, see our Facebook page for LRSJ

Last updated date

11.22am Tuesday 23 July 2019


Latest news

From left, Kim Rubenstein, Matthew Zagor, and Dominique Dalla-Pozza
Professor Kim Rubenstein, Associate Professor Matthew Zagor, and Dr Dominique Dalla-Pozza
Samantha sitting on a desert sand dune
Being involved in ANUSA, competing in legal competitions and participating in the ANU LRSJ program as highlights
Danny Philippa stands behind a wire fence on campus
Danny Philippa on the ANU Legal Literacy Program
Aurora Project internships and alumna Tess Kelly
Tess Kelly (LLB Hons '16) encourages new applicants
Batzorig Enkhbold standing proudly outside the United Nations Office in Geneva
LLM graduate at top UN Human Rights body

In the Media


Royal Commission may expose human rights shortfallings

writes in Australian Ageing Agenda

Research theme:

Uni hot-desk to aid civil law

Judy Harrison The West Australian


Drug testing 5,000 welfare recipients

Peter Christensen speaks to ABC Radio Newcastle


Everything you need to know about changes to the Racial Discrimination Act

Dilan Thampapillai, Margaret Thornton speaks to

Research theme:

Justice Connections 4 – Institutional Law Reform and Justice

talks to Justice Connections


Social change lawyers

speaks with ABC Radio National

Upcoming events


Next Steps: Towards Reconciliation

Next Steps: Towards Reconciliation
7.00PM to 8.30PM

The ANU LRSJ Indigenous Reconciliation Project is hosting a panel discussion on Next Steps: Towards Reconciliation.


Julian Burnside - Refugees: What can be done?

Julian Burnside - Refugees: What can be done?
6.00PM to 7.30PM
  • Julian Burnside QC

Join Julian Burnside QC as he shares his expertise on important areas for domestic and international refugee law reform.

Past events


Campaign Finance Regulation: A Troublesome Area?

Electoral Regulation Research Network logo
12.45PM to 2.00PM
  • Phil Green PSM
  • Benjamin Smith

This seminar brings together speakers who will examine campaign finance regulation from two distinct perspectives.


LRSJ Seminar: Access to Justice and the Rule of Law

The Hon Justice Rachel Pepper
5.00PM to 6.00PM
  • The Hon Justice Rachel Pepper

Join Justice Rachel Pepper (BA ’91, LLB (Hons) ’94),, Judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW, as she explores access to justice and the rule of law.


Special event: LRSJ Lunch with the Judge – Justice Rachel Pepper

Matthew Zagor and Justice Rachel Pepper
12.00PM to 1.00PM
  • The Hon Justice Rachel Pepper

LRSJ will be holding a light lunch for students to meet and chat with one of the most influential environment figures, The Honourable Justice Rachel Pepper, Judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW


The Children Act- Film Screening and Panel discussion

Law Reform and Social Justice
7.30PM to 9.00PM
  • Professor Tom Faunce
  • Justice John Faulks, former family Court Judge and ALRC commissioner,
  • Justice Mary Finn, former family Court Judge, former member of the ANU Council

The ANU College of Law, Law Reform and Social Justice Program proudly presents The Children Act.


LRSJ Lunch with the Judge - Justice Robert Osborn

Associate Professor Matthew Zagor and Judge Osborn
12.00PM to 1.00PM
  • The Hon Robert Osborn QC
  • Associate Professor Matthew Zagor

Join Associate Professor Matthew Zagor and ANU Law’s Judge in Residence Justice Robert Osborn to discuss law reform in Victoria, and using your law degree to effect change in law and legal practice.

The ANU College of law has an explicit commitment to the themes of law reform and social justice as core components for understanding the law.

College academics teach, research and engage across a broad spectrum of social justice topics including: access to justice, due process, civil society, human rights, legal ethics, health justice, transitional justice, Indigenous and refugee justice and youth justice.

The idea of law reform is integral to the study of law at the College with students encouraged in their studies to ask: where does a law come from, what is its purpose, is it working as it should, and how could it be different? Staff at the College integrate the study of law reform into their teaching, conduct research into the need for law reform in particular areas, and contribute their expertise to formal law reform processes.

Student-run projects are a key feature of the work supported by Law Reform and Social Justice. These projects provide a practical outlet for students to use their research skills, and assist students to understand the operation of law in society through community engagement. Students also have the opportunity to interact with academic staff outside of the classroom and work with students in other year cohorts. The projects aim to foster a commitment to social justice and law reform through volunteer activities. All students of the ANU College of Law – undergraduate, JD, and graduate – are welcome to be involved in current projects, and to suggest new activities.

Law Reform and Social Justice holds events with prominent speakers, film screenings, and panels discussing important contemporary issues. These events foster further engagement with the law and expose students to ideas of how they can work within and beyond the legal profession to achieve law reform and social justice.

The Director of Law Reform and Social Justice is Associate Professor Matthew Zagor.

Research themes


An active approach to studying law

PDF icon This guide (448.93 KB) provides law students with information about how to take an active approach to studying law, and useful contacts for legal organisations in Canberra that accept student volunteers. 



Vivien Holmes
Associate Professor


Justine Poon
Manager - LRSJ

Faculty advisors

Pauline Bomball
Senior Lecturer

Dominique Dalla-Pozza
Senior Lecturer

Tony Foley

Associate Professor Ryan Goss
Associate Professor

Kath Hall
Associate Professor

Judy Harrison
Senior Lecturer

Anthony Hopkins
Senior Lecturer

Anne Macduff
Senior Lecturer

Wayne Morgan
Associate Professor

Mark Nolan

Molly Townes O'Brien
Associate Professor

Kate Ogg
Senior Lecturer

James Prest
Senior Lecturer

Imogen Saunders
Senior Lecturer

Er-Kai Wang
Associate Lecturer

Matthew Zagor
Associate Professor

Interns - Law Reform & Social Justice (LRSJ)

Nelson Mendonca (2015)
Supported Decision-Making Pilot Projects In Australian Jurisdictions: Implications For Guardianship In The A.C.T
Nick Christodoulou (2015)
Medicinal Cannabis on The Australian Capital Territory: A Perspective on the Apparent International and Domestic Barriers
Ying Ching Ng (2015)
Should Human Tissue be Property? : An Overview of the Regulatory Framework and the Theoretical and Practical Feasibility of the Property Approach
Christian Dent (2014)
An analysis of the possibility of introducing positive duties into the Discrimination Act (ACT).
Olivia Kelly (2014)
Legislating a Social Approach to Disability: An Evaluation of Act Guardianship Legislation Following Changes in the International Approach to Disability
Stefanie Schweiger (2014)
Get your rosaries off my ovaries: A proposal for exclusion zone legislation around abortion service providers in the Australian Capital Territory
Christina Karolis (2014)
An analysis of the Implications of the ALRC Report 'Equality, Capacity And Disability In Commonwealth Laws' for The Guardianship and Management of Property Act 1991 (ACT)
Louisa Hermitage (2014)
Special measures – What place in the Australian Racial Discrimination Act?
Sonja van der Steen (2013)
Command responsibility of mid-level political and military cadre in international criminal law
Khash Kamali (2012)
Justice behind the Shi’a veil: The rule of law and the Iranian Judiciary
Laura Sweeney (2012)
The Physical Punishment Of Children In The Australian Capital Territory: Legal Regulation And Options For Reform
Melanie Poole (2012)
Catholic Healthcare Australia Guidelines as Torture, and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment: A Human Rights Inquiry


Advisory board

Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Law
Canberra, Australia
ANU College of Law
Canberra, Australia
Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Law
Canberra, Australia
PhD Candidate
ANU College of Law
Canberra, Australia
Elizabeth Curran
Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Law
Canberra, Australia

Projects & clusters

LRSJ student led projects


Student-run projects are a key feature of the work supported by Law Reform and Social Justice, providing a practical outlet for students to use their research skills, and assist students to understand the operation of the law in society through community engagement.

Students are encouraged to approach staff with new ideas for new projects via the mailbox. Current faculty advisors can be found on our People tab.

The following students-run projects are currently supported by Law Reform and Social Justice.

Research Hub

The Research Hub project aims to get together a standing group of students with research skills who can conduct applied legal research in making submissions to inquires on topical law reform issues, or respond to research needs of various lawyers and groups. Legal research and writing skills are the main skills focused upon in this project. 

Research Hub submissions:

2017 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

2017 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry on Freedom of Speech in Australia. This was an inquiry into section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act and the Procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

2016 Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

2016 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Inquiry into the Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2016. Research Hub's submission was quoted and cited at length in the Committee's final report on the Bill. 

2016 Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into Elder Abuse

Team Leader: Belinda Lin

Faculty Advisors: Margie Rowe, Matthew Zagor, Dominique Dalla-Pozza, Mark Nolan, James Stellios, Mary Spiers-Williams, Simon Rice

Kimberley Community Legal Service Project

This project aims to help Kimberley Community Legal Service increase civil law legal help in the Kimberley of Western Australia.  The initiatives include the KCLS Hotdesk in Canberra, staffed by ANU law student volunteers.

Faculty Advisors: Judy Harrison, Peter Sutherland, Asmi Woods, Margie Rowe

Ready 4 Recognition project

Ready 4 Recognition is an educational project that provides the community with clear, concise and legally accurate information about the constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples.

PDF icon  Ready 4 Recognition Flyer (512.23 KB)

Corporate Accountability Project

The Corporate Power Accountability project aims to cover four principal areas in which corporate law and social justice meet: corruption, labour, human rights, and the environment. We are a research group that empowers the public, increases access to information and raises awareness on issues of corporate accountability.

Corporate Accountability Project Submissions

2017 Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry Into Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

Human Rights project

This project is responsible for maintaining the ACT Human Rights Act Portal that provides researchers and practitioners with an accurate database of case summaries, Hansard, explanatory memoranda, general information and other material relating to the application of the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).

Police Integrity (closed)

The Police Integrity project documented police accountability measures in place across Australia’s federal and state jurisdictions.

Prison Issues project

Students involved in the Prison Issues project have the opportunity to engage in law and legal issues with people incarcerated in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Student Leaders: Max Henshaw 
Faculty Advisors: Anthony HopkinsMark NolanMolly O'Brien

Community Legal Education project

This project aims to increase the understanding of Canberra school students in the role of the law and legal information and to provide an opportunity for law students to prepare and deliver lesson plans. 

Student Leaders: Ashlea Arulanandam, Lauren Dreyar

Faculty Advisors: Pauline BomballPaul MahargSimon RiceImogen Saunders

ANU Law Students for Refugees

Established in 2016, this project is currently working on producing a community magazine and doing further legal research.


This project was established in late 2014. Teams of students partner up with local community legal organisations in order to discuss their legal information needs and how our students may be able to help them and their clients. The students then research and produce plain-language legal information to be used by the organisation. A website to collect together this work is currently in progress. We envisage this to be a legal information hub where students contribute articles and factsheets and where we aim to bring together the many sources of legal information on the web. We would welcome any students interested in this project to get in touch with us.

Law internships

Through the ANU College of Law internship program, students can contribute to the work of a social justice agency of their choice and conduct research that will support the agency's work. Most internships can be undertaken as courses for which students receive credit to their degree, and some provide a unique experience for volunteers.

Internships provide students with unique opportunities to make use of their developing legal skills in areas of need, building on their knowledge and putting it into context.

LRSJ offers internships for later year students, done through the LAWS4230 Internship Program. All LRSJ internships are subject to the course assessment criteria.

To discuss possible internships, please contact Matthew Zagor, Director of the LRSJ Program.

Law Internship course

The LRSJ Program at the ANU College of Law takes in two student interns each semester as part of the course LAWS4230: Law Internship.

LRSJ interns will conduct research into current issues in areas of law and social justice, adding to the knowledge base of the Program and enhancing the resources provided through the Program's website.

Areas of research could include:

  • poverty
  • discrimination and human rights
  • access to justice
  • the concerns of the elderly, migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples and/or other disadvantaged groups.

An active approach to studying law - the guide

Law Reform and Social Justice produces this useful PDF icon guide to legal volunteering in the ACT (448.93 KB)

Law Reform

The idea of law reform is integral to the study of law at the ANU College of Law. We encourage students to ask: Where did a law come from? What is its purpose? Is it working as it should? How could it be different?

Staff integrate the study of law reform into their teaching, conduct research into the need for law reform in particular areas, and contribute their expertise to formal law reform processes

ACT Law Reform Advisory Council

The ANU College of Law collaborates with the ACT Attorney-General's Department to operate the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council (LRAC), based at the ANU College of Law.

The Council’s role is to provide expert advice and recommendations to the ACT Attorney-General on terms of reference dealing with law reform matters referred to it by the Attorney-General.

The Council includes a panel of expert members with a broad range of expertise who are selected by the Attorney-General to serve for a period of up to three years.  Members are appointed for their expertise in matters relating to law and legal policy, and not as representatives of an organisation.

Information about LRAC membership is available on their website.

Contact: Dr Tony Foley

LRAC Links


Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team