Health, family and communities research network current research activities
Health-related research projects
Leanne Houston’s primary research interests are in health care law. Currently, her research is focusing on the role of imaging technology and the legal implications that may arise due to technological advancements.
Isabel Karpin specialises in feminist legal theory, health law, genetics and the law, disability and law and culture. Her current scholarship is in the area of law that can broadly be described as regulating bodies. This includes laws governing reproductive technologies, biotechnology as well as the legal responses to developments in genetic technologies and the challenges these pose to legal understandings of normality, disability, individuality, and family. One of her ARC funded projects has been to investigate the legal meaning of ‘serious disability’ in prenatal and neonatal decision-making.
Karen O'Connell's research interests are at the intersection of equality laws and emerging biotechnologies of the body, including neurotechnologies and genetics. She is currently researching the implications of contemporary neuroscience on law and identity, specifically the way that changing ideas of the brain are impacting concepts of disability and discrimination. She has a related research interest in the way that law deals with people perceived as simultaneously vulnerable and threatening due to brain-based conditions, such as school children with behavioural disabilities and parents with intellectual disabilities who are the subject of care and protection orders. Download research poster.
Anita Stuhmcke has an active interest in research in the exploration of the limits and ability of the Law to accommodate social, political and economic change. This interest focuses upon regulatory issues which cross administrative, tort and biomedical law. In all three areas the interaction between law and society raises issues of regulatory efficacy and social justice. For example, her dominant research interest in administrative law is ombudsman and the meeting of public and private regulatory regimes which has been brought about through transformation of the relationship between the governed and the government.
Family-related research projects
Jenni Millbank is an active researcher in the areas of family and relationship law and reproductive technologies. Jenni is widely published and has undertaken a major law reform work on non-traditional family recognition, including same-sex couples and non-genetic parents including, more recently, surrogacy families and legal parentage. Jenni has been working with Isabel Karpin and Anita Stuhmcke on a 2009-2011 ARC funded project Enhancing Reproductive Opportunity which examines the barriers to gamete and embryo donation for the reproductive use of others in Australia.
Communities and other research projects
Laurie Berg’s doctoral thesis explores the rights violations experienced by low-waged migrant workers in Australia, working with or without legal authorisation. Based on qualitative interviews of visa overstayers and lawful temporary workers, this work explores the justice claims of these largely invisible communities. Laurie's broader research interests span political theories of inclusion, international human rights jurisprudence and Australian public law.
Maxine Evers’ research focuses on ethics and the legal profession.
Terri Libesman's child welfare research is focused on Indigenous child welfare and more broadly Indigenous children's well being. Her work considers Indigenous child welfare within a human rights framework with a focus on principles of self determination, cultural rights and intergenerational trauma. She looks at comparative national and international frameworks for the delivery of child welfare services to Indigenous communities.
Honni van Rijswijk specialises in interdisciplinary research on law and culture. Her current scholarship focuses on the representation of suffering and responsibility in the adjudication of historical injuries, in both legal and cultural domains. One of her current projects involves investigating the gaps in the legal response to injuries suffered by the Stolen Generations, and arguing that formulations of responsibility in cultural texts can assist the law in finding new languages of responsibility.
Sally Varnham is interested in legal issues as they relate to all sectors of education. Widely the issues could be said to be embraced within ‘the right to education’. They range from areas which concern physical, emotional, mental and intellectual safety in schools and include family law issues, equal opportunity, rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, school choice, natural justice, and rights and responsibilities in the area of school discipline. Current projects relate to restorative justice and citizenship in schools, and the changing nature of higher education and the student/university relationship.