Implementing law reform: The outcomes and value of empirical research

Associate Professor Wendy Larcombe (University of Melbourne), Dr Anastasia Powell (RMIT), Dr Natalia Hanley (University of Melbourne), and Dr Nicola Henry (Department of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University)

Using a proposal to amend the definition of rape in Victoria as a case study, this project will investigate ways to identify divergent interpretations of legislative reform. The first stage of data collection will involve interviewing law reform experts and professionals who work in the sexual assault field, including lawyers, police, victim support staff and legal education providers. The second stage will involve conducting focus group interviews with legal and non-legal personnel, and lay people in the community.

This project is funded by the Melbourne School of Government (MSoG), Incubator Grant (2014-2015)


Hanley, N, Fileborn, B, Larcombe, W, Henry, N & Powell, A (2016) 'Improving the law reform process: opportunities for empirical qualitative research', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.

Larcombe, W, Fileborn, B, Powell, A, Hanley, N. & Henry, N (2016) 'I think it's rape and I think he would be found not guilty: focus group perceptions of (un)reasonable belief in consent in rape law', Social & Legal Studies.

Fileborn, B, Larcombe, W, Powell, A, Henry, N & Hanley, N (2015) 'Reforming the legal definition of rape in Victoria: what do stakeholders think?', QUT Law Review, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 30-49.

Powell, A. & Henry, N. (2014). Blurred lines? Responding to "sexting" and gender-based violence among young people. Children Australia, 39, 119-124.