New Research Grants

DFAT Grant - "Death Penalty Litigation Study Tour"

Professor Pip Nicholson and Reprieve Australia

Year(s): 2019
Value: A$27,661

This grant will provide funding for a visit to Melbourne for a structured study tour by 6 death penalty litigators from India, Indonesia and Pakistan in 2019.

The study tour will allow these lawyers to study various aspects of the criminal justice system, use of evidence in criminal cases in Victoria and meet with legal professionals in Victoria, including judges, lawyers, forensic experts and academics.  The visit will be tailored to cover the areas of interest relevant to the specific participants.

Hallmark Research Initiative - "Indonesia Democracy Research Initiative"

Initiative Chair: Professor Tim Lindsey AO
Academic Convenor: Dr Helen Pausacker 

Year(s): 2019-2021
Value: A$450,000

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority society and third-largest democracy. This initiative seeks to build a more cohesive Indonesian studies community at the University of Melbourne, create new collaborations between scholars working on Indonesia, democracy or Islam, and boost external recognition of Melbourne’s Indonesia expertise. As policymakers, law enforcement agencies, aid agencies and scholars struggle to meet the challenge of ‘Indonesia rising’, this initiative will provide rigorous analysis of Indonesia’s flawed democratic system and how Islam interacts with liberal democracy.

Understanding the key dynamics of governance in Indonesia is now a pressing need, given a clear decline in the quality of Indonesian democracy in recent years has been accompanied by rising Muslim conservatism that seems to reflect wider regional and global Islamist movements. These trends directly challenge liberal democratic norms. This initiative therefore seeks to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of Indonesian governance in comparative context, developing insights into both the function of its democracy and comparisons with the broader Islamic world.

This Initiative will create a mechanism for bringing research-active Indonesia-interested staff at the University of Melbourne together, trigger new research, including inter-disciplinary research (with democracy as an over-arching theme relevant to almost all disciplines), and help the University better profile itself as a national and global centre for Indonesian expertise.

Hong Kong General Research Fund - "Investigating the Professional Identity of Hong Kong Solicitors"

Associate Professor Amanda Whiting and Dr Karen Lee Man Yee (The Education University of Hong Kong)

Years(s): 2018-2020
Value: HK$441,000 (approx. A$78,600) 

Whether law is a profession for public service or a self-serving monopoly has been the subject of perennial academic contestations. This project seeks to shed some light on the debate by investigating the professional identity of Hong Kong solicitors. By exploring the lived experiences of a cross-section of solicitors who practice law in a variety of settings, this project will create new knowledge in two ways. First, it transcends a dominant research paradigm that focuses on prominent members of the profession or elite lawyers in international law firms by shifting focus to ordinary legal practitioners. Second, it goes beyond a widely held assumption that Hong Kong solicitors are profit-driven and inward-looking through an investigation of their professional identity and its relationships with the process of professional socialization. In doing so, this project will help highlight the diversities and complexities within the legal profession and enrich the international literature on lawyers and professionalism with a case study from Hong Kong.

This project is set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s transformation from a British colony to China’s Special Administrative Region, and hence uses the year of 1997 as a watershed. Sovereignty change in 1997 ushered in a new political era including the merger of two different legal systems, common law and socialist law, which subtly (yet fundamentally) changed the legal framework within which Hong Kong lawyers practice – most of them solicitors. To investigate whether and how solicitors’ professional identity and their perceptions to the profession and society have changed along Hong Kong’s trajectory, this project will employ the methods of event analysis and in-depth interviews. A critical analysis of major legal and political milestones since 1997 sets the context for the semi-structured interviews with a cross-section of solicitors. A sample of at least 60 solicitors will be drawn equally from those who entered the profession before and after 1997, which will cover solicitors who belong to different levels of seniority, social and education backgrounds, areas of expertise, and practice settings. This in-depth study of a cross-section of solicitors will produce valuable insights about how they perceive the current state of the legal profession, the public roles of lawyers, their views about Hong Kong’s future, as well as how their views might have changed through time, experience, and socio-political changes.

The Letten Prize - "Indian Equality Law Programme"

Associate Professor Tarun Khaitan

Year(s): 2019-2021
Value: NOK 2 million (approx. A$250,000)

In 2018, the Letten Prize was awarded to Associate Professor Tarun Khaitan for his ground-breaking interdisciplinary research which examines root causes of inequality and injustice.

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