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
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
comments in The Saturday Paper
writes in The Conversation
- Professor Aaron Fellmeth, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Immediately after assuming office, President Donald Trump issued blanket suspensions on immigration from seven Muslim countries, including refugees, valid visa holders, and lawful permanent residents.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Molly Townes O'Brien
Mary Spiers Williams
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 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: Margie Rowe, Matthew Zagor, Dominique Dalla-Pozza, Mark Nolan, James Stellios, Mary Spiers-Williams, Simon Rice
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).
The Police Integrity project documented police accountability measures in place across Australia’s federal and state jurisdictions.
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.
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.
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