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 guide to legal volunteering in the ACT (448.93 KB).
To find out about opportunities to get involved, see our Facebook page for LRSJ
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In the Media
writes in Australian Ageing Agenda
Standing Committee report 'Building Up & Moving Out' finds older persons a priority for the development of Australian cities
quoted in Parliament of Australia
Judy Harrison The West Australian
Drug testing 5,000 welfare recipients
Peter Christensen speaks to ABC Radio Newcastle
Dilan Thampapillai, Margaret Thornton speaks to News.com.au
speaks to ABC RN Background Briefing
quoted in National Indigenous Times
talks to Justice Connections
speaks with ABC Radio National
speaks to ABC Radio
- The Hon Justice Monika Schmidt AM
Join Associate Professor Matthew Zagor and The Hon Justice Monika Schmidt AM as they discuss law reform in the courts.
- Professor Hilary Charlesworth
Join LRSJ and Professor Hilary Charlesworth for lunch as we talk about her career path and more.
- Professor Hilary Charlesworth
Australia was elected as a member of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in 2017. In this seminar, Professor Hilary Charlesworth will talk about the role of the Council in promoting human rights and how Australia has engaged with the work of the Council.
- His Honour Dr John Lowndes, former Chief Judge
Join Associate Professor Vivien Holmes and His Honour Dr John Lowndes, former Chief Judge, for lunch as they discuss law reform in the NT.
- Justice Rachel Pepper
Join Justice Rachel Pepper as she shares on her paper about the costs in public interest climate change litigation.
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.
An active approach to studying law
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.
Interns - Law Reform & Social Justice (LRSJ)
Projects & clusters
LRSJ student-led projectsContact:
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.
The following students-run projects are currently supported by Law Reform and Social Justice.
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 (the Race Hate provision) and the Procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
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.
Team Leader: Belinda Lin
Faculty Advisors: Matthew Zagor, Dominique Dalla-Pozza, James Stellios, Mary Spiers-Williams
Recent Submissions by ANU Law Faculty:
Ernst Willheim, Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Review of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 (15 January 2018)
Ernst Willheim, Expert Panel on Religious Freedom (January 2018 - submissions are yet to be published by the Panel)
Professor Kim Rubenstein, Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters
Inquiry into matters relating to Section 44 of the Constitution (1 February 2018); (oral evidence to committee on 1 February 2018 available on Hansard)
A/Professor Jolyon Ford (ANU) and A/Professor Justine Nolan (UNSW Sydney), Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Inquiry into Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia (28 April 2017)
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 is an educational project that provides the community with clear, concise and legally accurate information about the constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples.
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
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).
GreenLaw works with academics and environmental organisations to complete projects that further environmental advocacy and the use of the law for environmental justice in Australia. GreenLaw is currently working on creating protester information kits for the ACT and developing a submission for the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (Cth) Review in 2020. To get involved please contact: Green_Law@outlook.com
Student Leader: Annika Reynolds
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
- 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 guide to legal volunteering in the ACT (448.93 KB)
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
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
- Current Inquiries
- Inquiry on sex and gender diversity
- Issues Paper about Legal Recognition of Sex and Gender Diversity
- Previous inquiries