The Editorial Board of Law Text Culture is seeking proposals for the 2020 edition of the Journal (Volume 24), due for publication in December 2020.
Law Text Culture is a transcontinental, peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal which aims to produce fresh insights and knowledges about law and jurisprudence across three interconnected axes:
Politics:engaging the relationship of force and resistance
Aesthetics:eliciting the relationship of judgment and expression
Ethics:exploring the relationship of self and other.
The annual thematic special issue, curated by guest editors, is selected by the editorial board. Each issue explores its theme across a range of genres, with scholarly essays and articles sitting alongside visual and literary engagements. In this way, Law Text Culture excites unique intersectional and interdisciplinary encounters with law in all its forms.
Proposals by potential guest editors should include:
a concise description of the proposed theme;
a draft call for papers setting out the aims and concepts of the issue; and how it fits within the remit of the journal;
an indication of the intended authors and how they are to be identified/contacted (eg whether the proposal arises out of a seminar series, conference or workshop);
the range of genres (poetry, scholarly essays, visual arts etc) expected to be included;
an explanation of how the copy-editing will be completed, including whether the guest editor/s will secure appropriate funding for copy-editing (usually approx $1000), or undertake the copy-editing themselves; and
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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.