Research areas

Our research programs draw on existing and emerging research strengths of academic staff aligned with the Centre for Health, Law and Society. The programs aim to facilitate interdisciplinary research and collaborations that explore institutional, material and technological aspects of the relationships between health, law and society. The Centre is aligned with La Trobe University’s Research Theme of ‘A healthy, safe and equitable life course for everyone’ and draws on a range of disciplinary perspectives from outside of law, such as sociology, anthropology, bioethics, visual arts, public health, politics, and gender and queer studies. The Centre’s current research programs are focused in four main areas: Public Health, Policy and End of Life; Gender, Reproduction and Law; Health, Social Justice and Equity; and Health Governance and Rights.

Public Health, Policy and End of Life

Members of the Centre have research expertise in a number of fields related to public health, policy and end of life. Specific areas of interest include coronial law and forensic medicine; death registration and certification systems; organ and tissue donation and transplantation; legislative frameworks for palliative care and voluntary assisted dying; the regulation of health, life and funeral insurance; and end of life care planning and risk management. Recent projects include bereaved people's experiences of the coronial system; understanding the forensic, socio-legal and social value of human taphonomy; socio-legal implications of virtual autopsies in coronial investigations; and developing indicators for the public health factors contributing to the quality of end of life.

Gender, Reproduction and Law

Members of the Centre have research expertise in a number of fields related to gender, reproduction and the law, including the regulation of assisted reproduction; LGBTIQ+ fertility decision-making and parenting; abortion, stillbirth and reproductive loss; socio-legal support for reproductive decision-making; and the regulation of access to medical treatment for transgender youth. Recent projects include the nature and extent of institutional abortion stigma in law and healthcare; the socio-legal implications of donor linking; regulating the technological transformations of sex; and legislative reforms enabling same-sex couples and single women to access IVF.

Health, Social Justice and Equity

Members of the Centre have research expertise in a number of fields related to health, social justice and equity including, Disability Studies; equitable healthcare provisions for women and LGBTIQ+ prisoners; the health effects of LGBTIQ+ conversion practices; and the intersections between human rights and public health, especially in the context of the global Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Recent projects include media analysis of coverage of the Victorian Government’s 2020 ‘Tower Lockdown’; guidelines for inclusive online education for people with a disability; the intersections between unmet civil legal and social needs and women’s criminalisation; the health effects of climate change; and a qualitative analysis of how the Victorian Government’s ‘hard’ lockdowns in 2020 affected the mental health of arts and creative-sector workers.

Health Governance and Rights

Members of the Centre have research expertise in a number of fields related to health governance and rights, including policymaking, institutional arrangements, regulatory regimes, and multi-level governance and systems. Specific areas of interest include multi-jurisdictional agreements on global trade, pharmaceuticals and intellectual property; legal recognition of emergent and contested illnesses; 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. Recent projects include trade agreements and transparency in the pharmaceutical sector; multi-sectoral approaches to addressing non-communicable diseases in the Pacific; and social norm feedback to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in China.