Research areas

The Centre’s research program draws on existing and emerging research strengths of academic staff aligned with the Centre. The program aims to facilitate interdisciplinary research and collaborations which explore the relationship between law and health within the University, nationally and internationally. The Centre’s current research program is focused on five main areas: health governance, gender and sexuality; the human body; mental health and disability; and public health.CHLS research areas

Health Governance

Centre Members have research expertise in a number of fields which examine aspects of health governance including policy-making, institutional arrangements, regulation, and multi-level governance and systems. Specific areas of interest include the design and implementation of regulatory regimes involving human tissue (organs, blood, gametes), analysis of case law and legislation, institutional arrangements and administrative review for schemes, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and no-fault compensation for medical injury; and the relationship between local, regional and global governance arrangements and their impact in (public) health.

CHLS Members working in this area include Professor Anne-Maree Farrell, Associate Professor Fiona Kelly, Professor Patrick Keyzer and Dr Darren O’Donovan.

Human Body

Members of the Centre have research expertise in a number of fields which explore the relationship between law and the human body and its parts/tissue. We are particular interested in socio-legal research in this area and draw on a range of disciplinary perspectives from sociology, anthropology, philosophical bioethics, politics and gender studies. Particular areas of interest include blood donation and supply; organ donation and transplantation; breast milk donation and breastfeeding; stem cell donation and research; brain-body and neuroscience; biotechnology; reproduction and the law; reproductive technologies (such as IVF); dead bodies and the law; coronial law and forensic medicine; sporting bodies; and human enhancement and the law.

CHLS Members working in this area include Professor Anne-Maree Farrell, Dr Laura Griffin, Associate Professor Fiona Kelly, Professor Patrick Keyzer, Ms Hannah Robert, and Mr Marc Trabsky.

Gender and Sexuality

Members of the Centre have expertise in a number of fields related to gender and sexuality, including the regulation of assisted reproduction, LGBT fertility decision-making and parenting, reproductive loss, abortion law, and the regulation of access to medical treatment for transgender youth. Examples of recent projects include (i) an exploration of the socio-legal implications of donor-conceived people or their parents making contact with sperm donors and/or donor siblings; (ii) an analysis of the impact of legislative reforms enabling same-sex couples and single women to access IVF clinics on LGBT fertility decision-making; and (iii) an exploration of the implications of criminalising harm to late-term foetuses that die due to injuries inflicted on their mother. Partners include the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.

CHLS Members working in the area of Gender and Sexuality include Associate Professor Fiona Kelly, Dr Laura Griffin, Ms Hannah Robert, and Mr Marc Trabsky.

Mental Health and Disability

Members of our Centre have expertise in examining law’s role in the area of mental health. Areas of research interest include: (i) mental health laws, human rights and legal capacity; and (ii) legal decision-making about the supervision and release of people found not guilty of an offence by reason of mental impairment. Other research interests include broader relationships between mental health and the law, disability and principles of criminal responsibility, and the implications of Mad studies and neurodiversity for the law.

There is also research expertise in exploring the role of law in the area of disability, with a particular focus on (i) promoting the rights of people with a disability; and (ii) access to justice. In relation to (i), a recent example can be found in the NDIS-commissioned publication by Professor Patrick Keyzer and Dr Darren O’Donovan, Discover: the National Disability Insurance Scheme Help Guide, which explores the challenges in implementing the Scheme, and how its complex legislative framework can be translated into concrete outcomes for participants in ways that fully recognise the rights of people with disabilities.  In relation to (ii), recent research and impact activities have included taking an active role in in legislative submissions and proposed reforms concerning the treatment of cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system.

CHLS Members working in this area include Dr Fleur Beaupert, Professor Patrick Keyzer and Dr Darren O’Donovan.

Public Health

Members of the Centre have research expertise in public health governance, which includes examining the role of law in this context. Particular areas of interest include examining (i) the role of law as a mechanism for health promotion at local, national and global levels; (ii) the role of law in health security in the context of infectious diseases; and (iii) the relationship between international and regional trade, health and the law. In this regard, there is a particular focus on the role of legal mechanisms in relation and global trade, such as intellectual property law and regulation, and their impact on public health.

CHLS Members working in this area include Professor Anne-Maree Farrell and Dr Deborah Gleeson.