Law and Society Association (Australia and New Zealand) 2018 Conference: Law and Society come together at UOW

A wonderful atmosphere of generosity, interest and support. This was my first LSAANZ and hopefully not my last!”

LSAANZ2018 participant

Against a backdrop of summer storms over 200 scholars, practitioners and students converged on UOW in December to enjoy a showcase of fascinating, cutting-edge socio-legal research at the 2018 Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (LSAANZ) conference.Hosted by UOW’s Legal Intersections Research Centre (LIRC) in conjunction with LSAANZ, the Canadian Law and Society Association (CLSA) and the Socio-Legal Studies Association (UK), the conference, whose theme was ‘Inclusion, Exclusion and Democracy’, brought together participants from all over Australia and the world to engage in lively conversations, meet like-minded people and enjoy the very best of Wollongong’s coast, mountains and city. The conference began with a post-graduate workshop where PhD students engaged in socio-legal research met to discuss methodology, writing and impact. The full conference was officially opened by a Welcome to Country by UOW friend and poet Dr Barbara Nicholson (Aunty Barbara) and a wonderful performance by the Illawarra Flame Tree Dancers. This was followed by a thought-provoking plenary panel on the ‘Perspectives of Australia’s First Peoples on Inclusion, Exclusion’ with historian Dr Jackie Huggins, poet Jim Everett, writer Melissa Lucashenko and Aunty Barbara. The four conference keynote speakers provided intriguing insights into diverse areas of socio-legal scholarship. Professor Renisa Mawani from the University of British Columbia introduced the participants to her new book, Across Oceans of Law. Professor Leti Volpp of Berkeley Law, University of California spoke on protecting the nation from “Honor Killings’ and banning immigrants in the time of Trump. Professor Anne Griffiths from the University of Edinburgh talked about the importance of legal plurality in a global world. Finally, The Honorable Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW, spoke about access to environmental justice and the effectiveness of law. The parallel sessions were a source of rich discussion, with topics as diverse as health care and technology, sexual assault reform, historical colonial perspectives of law and society and international environmental law.

Adding to the colour of the conference was an art exhibition on Port, Poles and Wires, which creatively explored in words, images and sculpture how privatisation is more the transference from public to private ownership and control. A thoroughly enjoyable conference dinner overlooking the sea finished off the conference. UOW’s beautiful campus, along with excellent research, a great sense of generosity and an errant sea gull, made LSAANZ 2018 an unforgettable conference. The conference organisers Dr Kylie Lingard, Dr Niamh Kinchin and Sarah Wright, who worked extremely hard and did such a fantastic job organising LSAANZ 2018 wish to thank all involved and hope to see everyone at LSAANZ 2019, which is to be held at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast.

LIRC 2018: Visiting PhD Scholar Presentations


9:30am – 12:15pm, 4 December 2018 LHA Research Hub (Building 19, Room 2072) University of Wollongong

Proudly supported and hosted by LIRC, the ‘Visiting Scholar’ program provides an opportunity to bring exceptional PhD students to UOW to disseminate their research. This year, three PhD students have been selected to present.

9:30am-10:20am – Aileen Kennedy (University of Technology Sydney), Thesis Title: ‘Regulating the Body of the Cerebral Subject’


Aileen Kennedy is a legal academic at the School of Law, University of New England, Armidale. Her research is in the area of health law, with particular emphasis on the law relating to the body and body modifications. She is interested in examining law and medicine’s contribution to how sex and gender are constructed and regulated. She is committed to supporting human rights for intersex people, in the face of ongoing medicalisation and unnecessary medical interventions. One focus of her research is on legal and ethical issues relating to biotechnological innovation such as assisted reproductive technology, genetics and neuroscience. She is interested in feminist theory, particularly theories of embodiment. Aileen is currently undertaking a PhD in law at UTS, Sydney. Her thesis looks at the influence of neuroscience in regulating sex and gender medical interventions on children.


My thesis is shaped around a central question of how the shift to a neurological approach to sexed identity will impact on the legal regulation of body-shaping medical treatment. This question is explored by examining the approach in law and medicine to medical procedures performed on minors to transform their body to align to a sex or gender.

The aim of the thesis is to shed light on a particular facet of judicial, legal and medical regulation of sex and gender. The core thesis is that the concept of brain sex has signalled and/or produced a significant shift in how both medicine and law understand transgender identities and needs. For transgender minors, gender identity is constructed as innate, fixed, rigid and utterly resistant to change because it is grounded in neurobiology. By contrast, the concept of brain sex has remained largely buried in discourse on intersex minors. Gender identity is constructed as simultaneously resilient and fragile. The discourses assume that gender identity can be undermined, ruined or eroded by inappropriate physical or psychological influences, justifying the need for urgent medical intervention to cure ambiguity and uncertainty.

Presentation Title: Sexing the body of the cerebral subject

My thesis explores the extent to which the shift to a neurological (or ‘brain-based’) understanding of personhood is permeating legal and medical regulation of sex and gender. This question is explored through the lens of legal regulation of medicine performed on children to shape their bodies to express a particular sex or gender. Until last year, transgender children were unable to access medicine to shape their bodies to correlate with their gender identity unless they obtained approval of the Family Court. Although that changed for most minors in 2017 with Re Kelvin, treatment for some children still requires court authorisation. My thesis explores the court’s developing understanding of gender identity development. I argue that the cases on children with gender dysphoria reflect and embed an understanding of gender identity development as neurobiological in origin, which is seen as innate and inexorable.

By contrast the legal cases authorising medical interventions on intersex children, aimed at ‘normalising’ the sexed appearance of their ‘ambiguous’ bodies, reflect a confused and contradictory understanding of gender identity development. In these cases, gender is sometimes conceptualised as fixed, innate and inexorable and sometimes as fragile, changeable and unstable. Often both conceptions are expressed in a single case – sometimes in a single paragraph.

In this presentation I will speculate that the different treatment of intersex children reflects an instrumental approach whereby medical interventions are justified by reference to whatever arguments are convenient or plausible rather than a genuine concern for likely gender identity development.


10:20-11:10 – Sean Mulcahy (Monash University, and the University of Warwick), Thesis title: ‘Law as performance: Towards a performative jurisprudence’


Sean graduated with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Hons) and Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Monash University and is currently undertaking a joint PhD on law and theatre at Monash University and the University of Warwick.

His research interest is in law as performance. More specifically, his work examines the particular elements of legal performance – set, script, audience, sight and sound – across different international settings.

Sean also works as a freelance actor, director and theatre producer. He has performed in the Midsumma, Melbourne Fringe and Adelaide Fringe Festivals and at the Malthouse Theatre, Arts Centre and La Mama. He is a proud member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.


My PhD project considers how the practices of law are affected by performance, which is usually thought of as being outside the realm of law. Drawing upon theatre scholarship, my project explores legal texts alongside the other performative dimensions of law: set, dress, voice, audience and digital dimensions. My project utilises performance studies methodologies commonly applied to theatre in order to undertake this inquiry.

I look beyond typical legal approaches to understand better the ways in which the (performance of) law is perceived by and affects outside audiences. In doing so, my project seeks to expose the gaps and limitations inherent in conventional accounts of the law, including critical legal accounts. My research, which includes elements of performance as research, is a unique integration of the theoretical with the practical, and conventional legal research approaches with techniques derived from theatre and performance studies.

Presentation Title: Singing the Law: The Musicality of Legal Performance

What would the law sound like if it was sung?

At the turn of this century, Balkin and Levinson (1999) reconceptualised law as a performing art. Whilst scholars have explored the relation between music and law (Ramshaw 2013), focus on the acoustic dimension of law is relatively new. Taking as my starting point James Parker’s Acoustic Jurisprudence (2015), I seek to explore the musicality of law in both legal and parliamentary settings.

The use of the term ‘legal performance’ (Rogers 2008) bewrays my interdisciplinary approach, bringing my background in theatre to bear on the performance of law. Exploring music within legal performance and musical remixes of legal transcripts, I argue that there is a latent musicality to legal speech and that the musical rhythm of the law attunes the listener to the legal performance (Dawson 2014).

The paper will feature samplings of music in and inspired by legal performance to examine the notion of latent musicality within legal speech and the idea that legal speech works best when it appeals to its audience in the way that music appeals to its audience in terms of rhythm, modulation, pitch, etc.


11:25-12:15 – Tobias Smith (University of California, Berkley), Thesis Title: ‘The Contradictions of Chinese Capital Punishment’


I am now a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. I also hold a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. I study the conditions under which punishment is restrained or diverted under various penal regimes. My dissertation, The Contradiction of Chinese Capital Punishment, focuses on the case of death penalty reform. My current research combines two threads in my biography. The first thread is a life-long engagement with China. I initially visited China in 2000 and have resided there for a total of about five years on and off since then. The second thread is an abiding concern with the US turn towards mass incarceration. I have worked for a variety of organizations monitoring US prison conditions and advocating for the welfare of incarcerated people in the US and China. My work has been published in Punishment & Society.


My dissertation, The Contradictions of Chinese Capital Punishment, is a mixed-method study of death penalty reform that explains why an otherwise punitive regime has curtailed the use of capital punishment. China remains far and away the world’s leading executioner state. Yet over the last decade China has also become the world’s leader in reducing executions. Even as Chinese politics has taken a more authoritarian turn, the state has supported the judiciary in instituting a process of death penalty review that has drastically diminished capital sentences. Why has an increasingly illiberal government endorsed courts in reducing punishment? My research demonstrates that rather than promoting judicial independence or due process, death penalty reform in China instead increases central supervision of lower court activity. As the central government struggles to control local administrators, the state’s focus in enacting reform is not defendants, but the state’s own agents. My dissertation is based on 18 months of fieldwork in four provinces across China. I draw on primary Chinese-language sources and court records. I also use an original data set of more than 70 semi-structured interviews I personally conducted in Chinese with a variety of stakeholders, including 43 lawyers who have handled capital cases.

Presentation Title: Partial Disclosure: Secrecy and Transparency in Chinese Death Penalty Decisions

For decades China has reputedly executed more people every year than any other nation on earth. The exact figure, however, is a closely guarded state secret. Beginning in 2007 China’s Supreme People’s Court overhauled the country’s death penalty procedure. How do we assess the impact of this reform?  Previous scholarship has suggested that the annual rate of execution—which remains unknown—would provide an indication of the reform’s success. On this view, the number is a dependent variable measuring the reform’s impact. This paper takes a different approach. I consider the fact of secrecy around the death penalty as an influence on death penalty reform. On this view, secrecy is an independent variable. I ask: what are the effects of secrecy on death penalty reform? I draw on over 70 interviews I conducted with legal personnel in China to show how national secrecy concerning annual executions shapes reforms in three areas of death penalty law and policy: case transparency, legal representation and due process. My findings provide new insights into the process of legal reform in authoritarian regimes and show how restrictions on quantification metrics can impact courts.

Attendance is free, and catering will be provided. Please register your attendance at the below website: HTTPS://WWW.SURVEYMONKEY.COM/R/WJN7C6X













Visiting Phd Scholar Program – Call for Applications 2018

The Legal Intersections Research Centre (LIRC) at the University of Wollongong (UOW) invites applications from PhD students enrolled at other universities to visit LIRC for a minimum period of two weeks in 2018.

LIRC engages in interdisciplinary scholarship across law, society and culture with a focus on public interest law and social justice. LIRC academic members come from law as well as diverse disciplines including media and cultural studies, business and forensic mental health. LIRC members’ current research relates to six themes:
 Contesting Vulnerability;
 Crime and Society;
 Legal Transpositions;
 Law and Popular Cultures;
 Social Justice and Global Forces;
 Legal Ethics, Culture, Practice and Professionalism.

The Visiting PhD Scholar Program aims to support high quality interdisciplinary PhD research in LIRC’s areas of research, to provide opportunities to PhD scholars from other universities to be involved in LIRC’s research activity and to support PhD scholars to form ongoing networks with LIRC academic and higher degree research (HDR) members. LIRC will award one visiting PhD scholarship in 2018 up to $1500 to cover the cost of travel to Wollongong and assist with living expenses in Wollongong during the program. Visiting PhD scholars will have office space with a computer, printing and copying facilities and borrowing privileges at the UOW library.

Visits in 2018 will be scheduled in early December to maximise the opportunity for interaction with LIRC members and HDRs, and to align with the LSAANZ and
Law and History Conferences to be held at UOW. Visiting PhD scholars are expected to be present on campus during the period of their visit in order to conduct their PhD research, participate in LIRC’s research activity, present their research at a lunchtime LIRC research seminar and be available for discussion of their research with LIRC academic and HDR members and UOW law honours students.

Applications should include the following:
 A curriculum vitae of no more than three pages, including name, previous degree/s, home institution and faculty, enrolment profile (fulltime, part-time, planned completion)
supervisors, and, as applicable, scholarship/s, publications and/or conference
presentations, and work background.
 A one page summary including the title, aims, overview, structure, chapter titles, and
current status of the PhD research project.
 A one page explanation of the alignment between the applicant’s PhD project and LIRC research, with reference to the current research projects of one or more members of  LIRC, and how the applicant and their PhD will benefit from the visit to LIRC.
 Confirmation that the applicant is available to visit in the first two weeks of December, 2018.
 A reference, preferably from the applicant’s Principal PhD Supervisor.

Applications close: Monday, 28 May, 2018
Enquiries: Yvonne Apolo,

Transforming the Parramatta Female Factory institutional precinct into a site of conscience

With the inclusion of the Parramatta Female Factory institutional precinct on the national heritage list, the federal government has recognised for the first time that institutionalisation is and has been a central part of Australia’s welfare system over two centuries.

The listing is testament to this precinct’s unique capacity to tell the stories of institutionalised women and generations of Australians who experienced out-of-home care, known as forgotten Australians, child migrants and Stolen Generations. It is now up to national, state and local interests to embrace this change.

The Parramatta Female Factory was identified as a site of abuse by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has now made its final recommendations.

It is timely to ask how past sites of institutional abuse can be transformed from places of incomprehensible violence and suffering into places that can be harnessed to achieve the commission’s goals of redress, justice and the prevention of future institutional abuse.

The long wait for justice

The Parramatta Female Factory institutional precinct has been in continuous use since an assignment depot for female convicts was established there in 1821. In 1847, the original site was repurposed as Parramatta Lunatic Asylum, and again, in 1983, as the present-day Cumberland Hospital.

The adjacent Roman Catholic orphanage site, founded in 1844, became Parramatta Girls Industrial School in 1887, and operated as Norma Parker Women’s Detention Centre until 2010. An estimated 30,000 women and children passed through the portals of the child welfare and Female Factory institutional complex alone.

This is Australia’s longest-operating site of institutional incarceration and violence against females. It is also a place of punitive incarceration of children, women and Indigenous Australians and those labelled as mentally ill. Why did it take so long for this site to be added to the national heritage register?

Parragirls Bonney Djuric and Gypsie Hayes in 2014. Michael K. Chin, courtesy PFFP Memory Project, Author provided (No reuse)

If not for former residents of Parramatta Girls Home this listing would have never happened. Parragirls founder Bonney Djuric lodged the original national heritage application in 2011, which was the basis for its final listing in 2017.

Parragirls have continuously fought, for more than a decade, to preserve this place so that the injustices they suffered will never be repeated again.

But, until today, the neglect of the girls’ home and the entire precinct has replicated the abandonment the women have experienced in seeking justice for themselves and the thousands who passed before them.

Girls interned at Parramatta Girls Home experienced systematic and endemic levels of violence and neglect – the effects of which are endured by survivors to this day. These violations have been recorded by the royal commission.

Findings from the commission’s investigation into the girls’ home catalogue a regime of discipline and punishment and emotional trauma, including physical and medical control, and physical and sexual abuse. Compensation and civil claim processes related to the home also came in for criticism in its report.

The problem confronting both the commission and Australians more generally is how to contend with personal and collective trauma on this scale. With the site now earmarked for redevelopment under the Parramatta North urban transformation plan, the New South Wales government faces this same challenge.

Creating a site of conscience

Apologies, stone memorials and trauma tourism no longer suffice for those living with the consequences of serious abuse. We urgently need a new imaginary for our past, where we make use of Australian heritage to do justice.

Former residents of Parramatta Girls Home have shown us how this is done by implementing a singular vision to transform this forgotten place. It’s called a site of conscience.

In principle, the site of conscience global movement proposes the reclamation of places of human suffering to make common ground for dignity, respect and civil participation, instead of abuse and neglect.

Engaging with a site’s history in this way, government, civil society and the public can better understand contemporary social justice issues and build a future society that does not repeat the wrongs of the past.

In practice, on the grounds of Parramatta Girls Home, a site of conscience has been brought into being through the community activities of Parragirls and PFFP memory project. Launched in 2012, the memory project has enabled Parragirls to supplant isolation, shame and silence with shared memory, creativity and social gathering.

Activities include inaugurating an annual children’s day and memory garden, collaborative exhibitions and performances, and Stolen Generations’ songwriting and live music events. The memory project has also enabled Parragirls to contribute to the design of the Parramatta Girls Home memorial and to impact academic research on ethics and policy on child welfare records.

Agency is crucial to the activation of this institutional precinct as a site of conscience. This means, first and foremost, those who experienced injustice – its former occupants – are empowered to determine how we remember the past and how to use it build a better present and future.

Long Time Coming Home, National Sorry Day event, 2017. Catherine McElhone, courtesy PFFP Memory Project, Author provided (No reuse)

Transformative justice

Imagine a living public memorial that includes all Australians in the commitment to ensure our children are protected both now and in the future.

From this precinct, we can learn how past legacies and social issues impact contemporary practices of institutionalisation and systemic violence against women and children.

It is here, in this very place of inordinate pain and loss, that we can best put justice to work and make use of past wrongs for future good. And this enables us, as a nation, to put into action the royal commission’s goals of redress, justice and the prevention of future institutional abuse.

This vision calls for our collective embrace of transformative justice. It also demands our civic engagement to hold the government to account in the development and future use of Australia’s principal site of institutional welfare heritage.

Linda Steele (Member of LIRC, UTS), Lily Hibberd (UNSW), Bonney Djuric (UNSW)

This article first appeared in The Conversation on February 5 2018.


Seminar: Subversive Legacies: Law, Literature and Repetition

Presented by Professor Marianne Constable

Date: Thursday 7th December 2017

Time: 4:30 – 6:30pm

Venue: Building 67, Room 202, University of Wollongong

Drawing on law and on literature, I will discuss how repetition, as textual figure of speech and as practice, enables both possibilities of change and of resistance to change. Reiterating the past transforms the present and subverts it, through mechanisms that may be conducive, on the one hand, to learning new habits (routines, skill, expertise) and, on the other, to the entrenchment of old harms and embedding of trauma. Examples will include: issues of appropriation surrounding a short story by Borges; the way different stories of domestic violence emerge from recognition of “patterns” of abuse; and the strange case of semantic saturation. In the seminar at Wollongong, I will focus most on the “gender” and domestic violence example, which comes from research I am doing on the history of the “new unwritten law” in the US at the turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th).

Marianne Constable is Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Law of the Other: The Mixed Jury and Changing Conceptions of Citizenship, Law and Knowledge (winner of the Law & Society Association J. Willard Hurst Prize in Legal History); Just Silences: The Limits and Possibilities of Modern Law (Princeton University Press); and Our Word is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts (Stanford University Press). She is currently working on two book-length projects: one on women who killed their husbands and got away with it under what was dubbed “the new unwritten law”; the other on learning and language in the written philosophical dialogue.

Please visit the LIRC website to register your attendanceFor more information and to RSVP.


PANEL: Memories and Reflections on the Soviet Century: On the Rise, Decline and Rebirth of the Communist Idea



Date: Wednesday 8 November 2017

Time: 4:30 -6:00pm

Venue: 67.202 Moot Court

In October 1917, Russia rattled the course of history. The Bolshevik assault on power had two consequences: first, leaving behind the tyranny of the tsars; second, inaugurating the dictatorship of the Soviets. The echoes of the Bolshevik revolution resonated beyond Russia, and its hope and courage –but also its rigor and fury – were immediately felt across the world.

This panel will delve into the history of the Bolshevik revolution and its relation to what Alain Badiou calls “the communist idea”, that is, the conception of a society in which the principle of equality is the prevailing political truth and, as such, stirs a collective organization that aims at eliminating both the subordination of labor and the inequality of wealth. From our conception of politics to the structure of gender, from Latin America to Australia, the panel will discuss the forms in which the October revolution and the communist idea that inspired it have agitated with hope and fear — in the past and still today, one hundred years later – both in the minds of individuals and the history of peoples.

Please visit the LIRC website to register your attendance

WORKSHOP: Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil






Date: Monday 6 November 2017 Time: 11.45am – 1.30pm Venue: 67.202 Moot Court

Australia and Brazil are megadiverse countries that together hold most of the world’s endemic plant and animal species. Brazil is also home to 60% of the Amazon rainforest. Both countries are party to the Convention on Biological Diversity but unlike Australia, Brazil entrenches the human right to a heathy environment in their Constitution.

Please join us for the rare opportunity to hear firsthand Brazilian perspectives on implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity in a megadiverse country. Leading the delegation is Marcia Dieguez Leuzinger, Professor of Environmental and Administrative Law at the University Center of Brasilia. Marcia is also Director of the Brazilian Institute of Public Advocacy and Prosecutor for the state of Paraná. The delegation bring diverse areas of expertise, making this an excellent opportunity to discuss collaborations with Latin America across a range of fields.

The workshop begins with presentations by each guest, followed by open discussion.

A light lunch will be provided.

RSVP by 3 November 2017.

For more information on LIRC, please visit the website at

LIRC’s second annual PhD Works-In-Progress Session explores the rich diversity of student research

Following the success of 2016’s ‘Writing Out Loud’ PhD session , the Legal Intersections Research Centre at the UOW Law School recently held its second 2017 iteration, providing the opportunity for five of its PhD students to showcase their research. As long as the presentation related to an aspect of their research, the students were free to present whatever they were currently focussed on, which resulted in a fantastically diverse session!

Taking place on the 13th of September, 2017, the session was structured loosely in order of earlier-stage to later-stage students, with Xu Qinqing, Stephanie Apsari Putri, Dylan Amy Davis, Sarah Wright and Ryan Kernaghan presenting. Fellow LIRC PhD student, Fabienne Else, acted as convener. Some of the earlier-stage students used this opportunity to present the entirety of their current research, in a proposal format, while others presented in a more traditional publication-style format.

(From left to right: Xu Qinqing, Stephanie Apsari Putri, Ryan Kernaghan, Sarah Wright, Fabienne Else and Dylan Amy Davis)

Starting the afternoon off, was Xu Qinqing, a first-year PhD student whose research focuses primarily on collective management of music copyright. Her presentation Collective Management of Music Copyright — A Comparative Analysis of Collective Management Organisations in China, the US and Australia’ examined emerging issues in Chinese copyright management. Xu’s highly informative session outlined some very pertinent issues facing music copyright in the digital age, including the emergence of collective management organisations (CMOs) and issues concerning the rights of both members and non-members of these institutions. By comparing the current stance of CMOs across China, Australia and the US, Xu outlined her hopes of developing a greater understanding of CMO development in China.

Second to present was Stephanie Apsari Putri, another first year PhD student whose research focussed on a very different area – that of food adulteration. Her presentation ‘Regulation of Food Adulteration in Indonesia: A Quest for its Effectiveness’ was incredibly eye-opening to the audience, as many were unaware of the levels of deceptive food behaviours that occur in areas of Indonesia, including the popular tourist area of Bali. While the audiences eyes grew continuously wide at Stephanie’s visual illustrations of bleached rice and rotten foods, she deftly outlined multiple issues regarding Indonesia’s current approach to food safety regulation. While still in the early stages of her research, it was clear that Stephanie’s thesis will go on to raise many eyebrows in the future, both for its confronting insights and useful contribution to potential policy reform.

Following Stephanie’s presentation was a new addition to the Law School and LIRC – Dylan Amy Davis. Having recently transferred from the School of Arts, English and Media, Dylan continued the diverse nature of the session, outlining their research on Bisexual erasure in law and culture: queer temporality, compulsory monogamy and narrative’. Dylan impressed the audience with a close examination of the positioning of their research in a current literature gap surrounding the logics of ‘bisexual erasure in contemporary Western social, cultural and legal discourses’. Dylan outlined how queer temporality, compulsory monogamy and narrative provide new interpretative frameworks for theorising in the area of bi-erasure. Taking on a very large and challenging project, Dylan discussed their approach of interviewing a variety of bi-spectrum individuals to provide a more complete analysis of bi-erasure and in order to assist in the development of new ways thinking critically about how Australian law and culture think about, and present, bi-sexuality. The audience was greatly impressed by the scale of Dylan’s project, and several made comments on potential future research directions for this area.

As mentioned previously, the latter part of the session was devoted to the Law Schools later-stage PhD students, with Sarah Wright, a former solicitor for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and current Lecturer in the Law School presenting her paper ‘Re-examining the Approach to Alternative Sentencing Orders in New South Wales Pollution Law’. An examination of the current remedies available to the Land and Environment Court of NSW, her paper critiqued the seemingly narrow approach to sentencing that is currently occurring in that Court. Sarah provided the audience with a very clear outline of the current remedies, before illustrating their use according to recent statistics. Her paper made the audience question why alternative sentencing orders (ASOs) such as environmental service and payment orders, publication and monetary benefit orders are not popularly utilised, despite their availability. Presenting a very strong case for the uptake of these ASOs in the future, Sarah demonstrated that the existence of legislation does not necessarily lead to uptake, and it continues to be the role of legal academics to investigate the operation of laws in practice.

To finish the day, experienced PhD student and sessional lecturer Ryan Kernaghan, gave a presentation outlining some of his reflections and insights regarding ‘going to full draft’ within a PhD. In his presentation, Ryan outlined some incredibly useful advice for the newer PhD students in relation to pushing through research and writing barriers, overcoming self-sabotage and practicing good self-care. The aim of this presentation was to give the students some time to reflect on their own PhD journey and it provided a fantastic closing discussion for the students on the difficulties so often inherent to the PhD experience. As a student on the cusp of submitting his own thesis, Ryan was well situated to promote such discussion, and provided many valuable insights that many of the other students found both useful and at times, quite humorous.

Ultimately, this Works-In-Progress session showcased the incredibly diverse nature of research that the School of Law, and LIRC in particular, are fostering. The passion of the students in their respective areas of research was clearly apparent within the presentations. Such events as this benefit both the audience and the presenters, for while the audience is given an insight into emerging areas of research, the presenters are granted with the opportunity to collect their thoughts and present them to a supportive, yet scholarly audience. While ideas or approaches may be challenged, ultimately the feedback provides a valuable opportunity for students to evolve their work and refine it for future dissemination.

As with last year, this event continued to support a sense of strong community among students in the UOW Law School, allowing them the opportunity to learn about others work, as well as presenting their own in a supportive, learning environment.

Launch of Pilot Project Report: ‘Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Best Practice’

A report, titled Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Best Practice, on the findings of a pilot research project undertaken by Professor Nan Seuffert, Director of the Legal Intersections Research Centre (LIRC), and Dr Trish Mundy, LIRC member and Senior Lecturer within the School of Law at the University of Wollongong (UOW), and conducted in partnership with the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales (WLANSW), was launched recently in Sydney.

The pilot project investigates current best practices operating within national law firms in Australia that support women lawyers in their advancement to partnership and other leadership positions. Launched by the Honourable Acting Justice Jane Matthews AO, patron of WLANSW and Visiting Professorial Fellow in the LIRC, the project responds to the significant under-representation of women in senior positions within the legal profession, and their higher rates of attrition.

This study reveals that four of the top-achieving national law firms in Australia on gender equity criteria are engaging with many of the best practice initiatives for diversity and inclusion recommended by the current national and international research and scholarship. These best practice initiatives include: a commitment by leaders at the top of the firms; a focus on inclusive cultures; the introduction of retention strategies; professional development opportunities; mentoring; affinity groups; flexible work policies; engagement in evaluation and self-assessment processes; and, in some instances, providing specialised administrative support and the implementation of targets. What is apparent, however, is that the current best practices have yet to achieve significant advancement of women, or to break through the glass ceilings that continue to operate for women in large Australian law firms.

There are plans for the findings of this study to feed into a larger collaborative project, which will respond to calls for research done in partnership between academics, professional bodies and law firms. It will focus on producing new models for partnership that value all competencies necessary for law firm success in the 21st century, for reaching diversity goals, equity and justice, and for shifting firm culture consistent with these changes.

 A full copy of the report can be found here