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) and a regular newsletter.

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

Last updated date

2.30pm Tuesday 13 February 2018


Latest news

The Constitutional
A new podcast from the ANU College of Law captures conversations about law in a way that is utterly charming and reminds listeners that lawyers are people too.
ANU Law students Skype with KCLS solicitors at the hot desk. Image: Stuart Hay
Law students from The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law are voluntarily staffing a Canberra-based hot desk to help Kimberley Community Legal Service (KCLS) lawyers assist people with legal issues in the Kimberley region over 5,000 kilometres away.
Michael Fortson
Michael Fortson knew he would study law sometime after he finished high school. When he did, he was in his forties, married with two children and living 15,000 kilometres from home.
Simon Rice
As Professor Simon Rice departs the ANU College of Law, he reflects on almost 10 years as founding director of the Law Reform and Social Justice initiative.
Holding hands
The ACT Law Reform Advisory Council (LRAC) has set out to answer how Canberra could become a restorative city.

In the Media


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


US arms suppliers overrule courts in Australia with ITAR

comments in The Saturday Paper


Charlie Hebdo attacks provide a false pretext for 18C debate

writes in The Conversation

Upcoming events


A fair go for refugees

David Manne
7.30PM to 8.30PM
  • David Manne, Executive Director of Refugee Legal

Executive Director of Refugee Legal, David Manne, will assess the current state of asylum and refugee policy in Australia.


An Australian Bill of Rights

Gillian Triggs
7.00PM to 8.00PM
  • Gillian Triggs, Former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Gillian Triggs will examine the state of play of human rights in Australia and revisit the case for an Australian Bill of Rights. 

Past events


The final report of the Royal Commission into the protection and detention of children in the NT

NT Juvenile
1.00PM to 2.00PM
  • Mary Spiers Williams, ANU Law School

On 17 November 2017 the Royal Commission's report on the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was released. As expected, the Commissioners condemned the conditions of custody and were highly critical of the limitations of the sentencing regime and the lack of diversionary
options for children at every stage of the process, amongst many other matters.


Film screening: Denial

7.30PM to 9.30PM
  • A/Prof Rosanne Kennedy
  • A/Prof Jolyon Ford

<>Denial tells the story of when historian Deborah Lipstadt was pursued in the UK courts by a notorious Holocaust denier in the Irving v Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt case. Due to libel laws favouring the plaintiff at that time, the onus fell on Lipstadt to prove that Irving was wrong - effectively putting the truth of the Holocaust on trial.



Screening of 'Complicit' documentary and panel discussion

Complicit film still
5.45PM to 8.30PM

Complicit is a documentary filmed under the radar over 3 years, following the journey of Yi Yeting, a Chinese migrant factory worker with work-induced leukaemia, who learns labour law in order to defend the millions of workers like him against the powerful electronics companies. 


Changing the Conversation on Refugees and getting it on the #RightTrack

Event image
10.00AM to 2.00PM
  • Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

ASRC Founder and CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis, warmly invites you to this four hour workshop to share the findings of our ground-breaking ‘Words That Work’ messaging research that was led by communications expert Anat Shenker-Osorio, and discuss how this has informed the development of a values based conversation framework. 


Law Week 2017: ANU Law explains...

Event image
10.00AM to 7.00PM

Learn about the legal issues impacting counter-terrorism, citizenship, race relations, climbing imprisonment rates and the South China Sea.

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. 



Justine Poon
Manager - LRSJ

Faculty advisors

Pauline Bomball

Kevin Boreham

Dominique Dalla-Pozza
Senior Lecturer

Tony Foley

Ryan Goss
Senior Lecturer

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

Peter Sutherland
Visiting Fellow

Er-Kai Wang
Associate Lecturer

Asmi Wood
Associate Professor

Matthew Zagor
Associate Professor

Interns - Law Reform & Social Justice (LRSJ)

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
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
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?
Christian Dent (2014)
An analysis of the possibility of introducing positive duties into the Discrimination Act (ACT).
Sonja van der Steen (2013)
Command responsibility of mid-level political and military cadre in international criminal law
Amy Sinclair (2012)
An analysis of the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 for the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council
Amanda Joyce Neilson (2012)
A Marriage of Inconvenience: Self Represented Litigants and the Family Court of Australia
Khash Kamali (2012)
Justice behind the Shi’a veil: The rule of law and the Iranian Judiciary


Advisory board

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
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.

Past and current LRSJ interns can be found on our LRSJ People tab. You are also welcome to do your own research and/or consult us regarding an alternative location (local or overseas) or type of work relating to law reform or social justice.

To discuss possible internships, please contact Simon Rice, 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