Dr John Seymour

Honorary Professor

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Dr Seymour retired from the College as a Reader in Law in 1998, having been a member of the academic staff there from 1982. Before joining the College he had been a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Auckland and the Senior Criminologist (Legal) at the Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra. During his term at the Institute he was seconded to the Australian Law Reform Commission as the Commissioner-in-Charge of the Inquiry into Child Welfare Law. At the College of Law he taught courses in Criminal Law and Criminology, Administration of Criminal Justice, Legal Writing and Research and Legal System and Process. He also pioneered the development of teaching in the area of Social Welfare Law; he designed and taught specialized courses on Child Welfare Law, Social Security Law, and Children, Parents and the State.

He has acted as a consultant to State and Territory governments and the United Nations on matters relating to juvenile justice. He also acted as a consultant to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s reference on the Infertility Treatment Act 1995 (Vic) and has served on the Parole Board of the A.C.T., the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Canberra Hospital Clinical Ethics Committee.

His research has covered a range of topics, most notably the history and operation of systems for dealing with young offenders, child protection procedures, the higher courts’ powers over children, and the law governing the parent/child relationship. He also undertook extensive research in the medico-legal field, focusing on pregnancy, childbirth and the law (in particular, negligence actions against midwives and obstetricians and the rights of pregnant women) and the legal status of the fetus.

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.

Books & edited collections

1985: (With Morris, Cook, Creyke & Geddes), Laying Down the Law: The Foundations of Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing in Australia, Sydney, Butterworths (239 pages)

1988: Dealing with Young Offenders, Sydney, Law Book Company, (i-xxxi, 495 pages)

1992: (Co-editors: P. Alston and S. Parker), Children, Rights and the Law, Oxford University Press. (vi-xiv, 268 pages)

2000: Childbirth and the Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, (i-xxix, 391 pages)

2016: Children, Parents and the Courts: Legal Intervention in Family Life, Federation Press (i-xvi, 187 pages)

Refereed journal articles

1972: “Youth Services Bureaus”, 7 Law and Society Review, 247-272

1977: “Children’s Boards in New Zealand: Some Unanswered Questions”, 10 Aust. and N.Z. J. of Criminology, 233-244

1992: “An ‘Uncontrollable’ Child: A Case Study in Children’s and Parents’ Rights”, in P. Alston, S. Parker and J. Seymour (eds), Children, Rights and the Law, O.U.P., 98-118. Reprinted in 6 International Journal of Law and the Family, 98-118

1993: “The Role of the Family Court of Australia in Child Welfare Matters”, 21 Federal Law Review, 1-47

1994: “Parens Patriae and Wardship Powers: Their Nature and Origins” 14 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 159-188

2002: “The Legal Status of the Fetus: An International Review” 10 Journal of Law and Medicine, 28-40

2003: “Cattanach v Melchior: Legal Principles and Public Policy” 11 Torts Law Journal 208-217

2005: “Parental Rights and the Protection of Children: A Presumption against State Intervention?” 7(2) Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 16-30


Commissioned reports

1981: Australian Law Reform Commission, Child Welfare (Report No. 18) (513 pages)

2004: (With Sonia Magri) ART, Surrogacy and Legal Parentage: A Comparative Legislative Review (Occasional Paper for the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s reference on the Infertility Treatment Act 1995) (73 pages)


1976: “The Current Status of Youth Services Bureaus”, in R.M. Carter and M. W. Klein (eds), Back on the Street: The Diversion of Juvenile Offenders, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice Hall Inc., 263-275

1985: “Children’s Courts in Australia”, in A. Borowski and J. Murray (eds). Juvenile Delinquency in Australia, Sydney, Methuen, 186-210

2001: Entries on “Children” and “Marion’s Case” in A Blackshield, M Coper and G Williams (eds), The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia (Oxford University Press, 2001)

2006: “Dilemmas in Obstetrics and Midwifery” in I Freckelton and K Petersen (eds), Disputes and Dilemmas in Health Law, Federation Press, 2006, 458-477

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