Faculty Research Seminar Series

Melbourne Law School's Faculty Research Seminar Series is a place to present and discuss work-in-progress, promising arguments and early drafts to interested staff, graduate researchers and visitors

In Semester 2, 2020 seminars will be organised and hosted by Dr Scott Stephenson and Dr Inbar Levy.

The seminars are held weekly on Mondays during semester from 1.00pm - 2.00pm.

The presenter will speak for about 30 minutes, followed by time for questions.

2020 Semester 2 Program

  • 10 August 2020 - Professor Beth Gaze, Professor Julian Webb and Rachel Doyle

    Title - Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession and Judiciary

  • 17 August 2020 - Professor Kirsty Gover with Eddie Cubillo and Dr Amanda Porter as discussants

    Title - Recognising and Understanding Indigenous Law and Legal Systems

    Abstract - This project will generate knowledge that will enable settler and Indigenous officials, decision-makers, scholars and members of the public to better understand and recognise key distinctive features of Indigenous laws and legal systems. This will assist them to:

    (a) Make settler laws more responsive to Indigenous values and aspirations;
    (b) Design durable Indigenous representative institutions;
    (c) Facilitate Indigenous efforts to be self-sufficient and self-governing; and,
    (d) Successfully negotiate just and durable treaties and other agreements, where appropriate.

  • 31 August 2020 - Professor Farrah Ahmed, Professor Michelle Foster, Professor Jeff Redding, Balu Nair, Dr Christoph Sperfeldt along with Dr Adil Hasan Khan

    Title - Indian Citizenship & Statelessness Panel

    Abstract - India is in the midst of a crisis around citizenship and statelessness. The experience with the National Register of Citizens in the State of Assam, as well as the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 by the Indian Parliament, have given rise to fears of mass statelessness for a large section of Indian population, especially minorities and other vulnerable people. The Indian Citizenship and Statelessness Research Project aims to generate research oriented to this on-going citizenship and statelessness crisis in India, with focus on international law, empirical research, gender and public law. This panel presentation will introduce our research plans and early findings.

  • 7 September 2020 - Associate Professor William Partlett with Dr Tanya Josev as discussant

    Title - Remembering Australian Constitutional Exceptionalism

    Abstract - This paper will describe how, in the final decades of the twentieth century, historians broke free from the dominant historical account of Australian Federation as an economic union and the Constitution as an uninspiring, lawyers’ document.  They instead described how the Constitution reflected one of the most radical movements toward inclusive representative democracy in the world at that time. The High Court has recognized that this history underpins Australia’s constitutional guarantee of representative democracy.  This jurisprudence suggests that the Constitution is not just a thin, lawyerly document—at least with respect to representative democracy. Remembering this uniquely Australian form of constitutional exceptionalism shows that history does not just support conservative forms of constitutional interpretation.  More broadly, it shows that critically scrutinizing history can ensure a fuller understanding of important constitutional questions.

  • 14 September 2020 - Professor Lee Godden, Professor Jacqueline Peel, Alice Palmer, Robin Gardner, Rebekkah Markey-Towler along with Astari Kusumawardani

    Title - PacwastePlus – Managing A Research Project in the Pacific

    Abstract - This seminar will discuss the approaches used in tendering for, carrying out and managing a large scale consultancy project. In the PacWastePlus waste legislative review project, a team of researchers from MLS and CREEL worked in close collaboration with personnel from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) to undertake a review and assessment of the waste and environmental laws and governing institutions in 15 participating Pacific Region countries. Over a five month period, the project team carried out over 60 interviews with in-country stakeholders in the participating countries, including government staff and legal counsel, both in person and then by remote means as COVID-19 travel restrictions were imposed to safeguard these nations.  The project involved extensive legal research in jurisdictions where sometimes the relevant laws were difficult to locate, necessitating the Academic Research Service working in conjunction with the project team to identify and collate these laws. The project has built a valuable research resource and established research networks in the participating Pacific nations and Timor-Leste. It has also given the project team new insight into managing a large scale consultancy project and the differences between this kind of work and more standard ARC-funded grant projects.

  • 21 September 2020 - Dr Amanda Porter with Professor Katy Barnett as discussant

    Title - Sugar, Slavery and the Birth of Preventive Policing

    Abstract - This article examines the important though often neglected history of the Thames Water Police in Wapping, London from 1798 through to its integration into the Metropolitan Police Service in 1839.  Despite the direct links between the slave industry and the modern preventive police, legal historians and policing/criminological scholarship seldom reflects on the deeply embedded relationships between policing, imperialism and racist violence.  This article has two core aims: first, to provide a counter narrative to the conventional origin story of the development of English police and, second; to examine the widespread and popular resistance to the idea of the police in late 18th century England.  I conclude by reflecting on the relevance of these ideas for contemporary campaigns such as the ‘Movement for Black Lives’ (M4BL) and ‘Defund the Police’.

  • 28 September 2020 - Professor Hilary Charlesworth with Professor John Tobin as discussant

    Title - The Travels of Human Rights: The UNESCO Human Rights Exhibition 1950-53

    Abstract - The focus of this paper is a travelling exhibition designed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1950 to introduce the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 10 December 1948. I first describe the provenance of the UNESCO exhibition and then discuss how its images relate to the rights contained in the UDHR. While designed to shore up the claims that the rights in the UDHR had a universal origin, these images tell us more than their curators intended about the specificity of the human at the centre of international human rights law.

    Please find Charlesworth’s paper here.

  • 12 October 2020 - Professor Megan Richardson, Professor Christine Parker Professor Andrew Kenyon, Associate Professor Andy Roberts and Dr Jake Goldenfein

    Title - Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society

    Abstract - The rapid expansion of data-driven automated decision-making enabled by technologies from machine learning to blockchain has great potential benefits, while it also creates serious new risks, both tangible and intangible. Potential harms include discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment against individuals, disadvantaged communities and the spread of disinformation for political and commercial ends. Increasing inequality and diminished economic security have been noted as risks in the coming decade.

    Please find CoE paper here.

  • 19 October 2020 - Dr Boyd van Dijk with Professor Sundhya Pahuja as discussant

    Title - Internationalizing Colonial War: On the Making of the Geneva Conventions in South-East Asia, 1945-1949

    Abstract - What is the relationship between decolonization and international law? Most historians agree that empires framed their colonial wars as emergencies in order to escape international scrutiny. After 1945, however, those same imperial powers invited the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene in their wars of decolonization while resisting an official state of war. This article seeks to solve this puzzle by drawing attention to the ICRC’s critical part in reshaping the international legal system regarding colonial war in the years before the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62) and the Bandung Conference (1955). In this formative period, the organization, together with anti-colonial activists, played a transformative role in contesting accepted ideas of global governance and the Geneva Conventions while providing a new stage for anti-colonial resistance, with far-reaching consequences, not just for the ICRC’s own institutional future, but also for the legitimization of (post-)colonial sovereignty in the twentieth century.

    Please find paper here.

  • 26 October 2020 - Professor Ann O'Connell with Professor Matthew Harding as discussant

    Title - Is it really a Charity? Membership-based entities as charities

    Abstract - The establishment of the ACNC in 2012 as the independent regulator of charities has had a profound impact on the amount of information available about charities that access tax concessions, such as the exemption from income tax. We now know how many entities have been registered ie approved as eligible to receive federal tax concessions (approximately 56,000), and a result of reporting obligations we know quite a lot about the financial position of these entities (including that some entities have more than $2 billion in untaxed revenue). However, there is still a lot we do not know.

    For example, we do not know how much revenue is forgone as result of these concessions. And we know almost nothing about BRCs (that are exempt from reporting) or about how much the executives of these charities are paid or about other 140,000 income tax exempt entities (such as the AFL, NRL and Cricket Australia) that continue to self-assess their eligibility for tax concessions. My focus in this paper is on entities that have been found to be charities despite the fact that in many ways they are the opposite of what we might expect a charity to be ie member-serving rather than for the public benefit.

    Please find paper here.