Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    A Defence of Scholarly Activism
    Stone, A (National Inquiry Services Center (NISC), 2023-12-01)
    This article offers a defence of ‘activism’ by constitutional scholars in the face of critiques that cast activist scholarship as unscholarly or subject to systemic distorting pressures. It seeks, first, to frame the inquiry as one about ‘role morality’, which is in turn closely related to the nature of academic inquiry in law. Second, relying upon a plural notion of the nature of academic inquiry within law, it shows that scholarly activism poses no special challenge to scholarly integrity. Finally, the article argues that an activist motivation has plausible epistemic benefits for scholarship that critics of scholar-activists overlook.
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    The absence of mandatory pregnancy warning labels in online alcohol purchasing contexts
    Pettigrew, S ; Davies, T ; O'Brien, P ; Strauli, B ; Petticrew, M ; Bowden, J (WILEY, 2024-07)
    INTRODUCTION: As people increasingly migrate to online shopping platforms, hard-won improvements in requirements for consumer information provision at the point of sale are being eroded. An example is the alcohol pregnancy warning label for packaged alcoholic beverages that has been recently introduced in Australia and New Zealand. The aim of the present study was to assess the extent to which the pregnancy warning was visible at the online point of sale when the requirement became mandatory in August 2023. METHODS: Data for alcohol products sold on the websites of the two largest alcohol retailers in Australia were web-scraped from 1 to 3 August 2023. The captured data for 8343 alcoholic beverages were inspected to determine whether the pregnancy warning was visible. RESULTS: Virtually no products (0.1%) had the mandatory warning visible on the main sales page, and only 7% enabled visibility of the warning via optional product image rotation functionality. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The almost complete absence of the mandatory pregnancy warnings on the main product pages of major alcohol retailers' websites highlights the regulatory problems posed by the emerging shift to online shopping. The very low prevalence of visible pregnancy warnings is likely to be an overestimate of the extent to which consumers would be exposed to warnings due to images being counted as being present regardless of their quality or readability. New regulation is needed to ensure that mandatory information requirements for harmful products are applied to online shopping contexts.
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    'Fledgling Financial Needs', Affordability and Attitudes as Drivers of Noninsurance Among Young Australians
    Bourova, E ; Ramsay, I ; Ali, P (WILEY, 2024-06)
    Building, home contents and comprehensive car insurance promise protection against loss or damage from fire, flooding, accident and theft. In Australia, young people aged 18–24 are among the groups most likely to forego these insurance products. Yet research on the reasons for this remains limited, as noninsurance among young people is attributed to their dependent or ‘fledgling’ life stage, with minimal income and assets warranting protection. In this article, we argue that noninsurance may have serious consequences for young people, particularly if they have limited savings and cannot count on financial assistance from their families. Drawing upon survey findings, we undertake an in‐depth investigation into the role of asset levels, affordability and attitudes in driving young people to forego insurance. Our findings suggest that young people are not especially predisposed to distrust insurers, to consider insurance inessential or to oppose insurance on principle. However, other attitudes—including lesser risk aversion, higher confidence in their capacity to mitigate risks and perceptions of insurance as irrelevant to their circumstances or ‘not for them’—may be more prevalent in this age group, driving them to remain uninsured even when they have assets warranting protection and sufficient income to offset affordability concerns.
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    Strangulation During Sex Among Undergraduate Students in Australia: Toward Understanding Participation, Harms, and Education
    Sharman, LS ; Fitzgerald, R ; Douglas, H (SPRINGER, 2024-01-01)
    Abstract Background Strangulation is becoming a more common sexual practice despite its potentially fatal consequences and associated short- and long-term sequelae. This research provides a preliminary examination of participation and perception toward strangulation during sex among Australian undergraduates. Methods This study utilized a confidential, cross-sectional online survey collected in 2022–2023. Analysis included 168 undergraduate students at an Australian University and explored their awareness of the harms of strangulation, understanding of criminalization, and the impact of education on these attitudes. Results In total, 56% reported ever being strangled during sex and 51% ever strangling a partner. Seventeen percent of participants reported being strangled and 13% strangling a partner during their last sexual experience. Higher frequency, wanting, and positive perceptions of strangulation were associated with more liberal sexual attitudes. However, there were differences depending on gender. Participants generally did not perceive strangulation to be harmful and had limited knowledge about its criminalization. Lastly, a brief education intervention on strangulation harms revealed reductions in positive perceptions of strangulation that were pronounced among women. Conclusions In this convenience survey, Australian university students commonly reported previously engaging in strangulation during sex but with limited awareness of the potential consequences. Our results indicate that education on these consequences could reduce positive perceptions of strangulation, particularly among women. Policy Implications Education on strangulation harms are likely more effective than criminalization alone in improving awareness of its consequences and changing perceptions of strangulation. These findings could help guide targeted policy and education on strangulation within sexual health contexts.
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    Domestic Violence, Sex, Strangulation and the 'Blurry' Question of Consent
    Douglas, H ; Sharman, L ; Fitzgerald, R (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2024-02)
    A stand-alone strangulation offence was introduced in Queensland, Australia in 2016. One of the elements of the Queensland strangulation offence is that the victim did not consent to the strangulation. This paper reviews the harms and dangers associated with strangulation before overviewing the debates about the use of strangulation during sex. Drawing on focus group discussions conducted with domestic violence support workers and men's behaviour change workers, we discuss four overlapping themes identified in the discussions. These were perceptions that: strangulation during sex is normalised; consent is not informed; it happens in the context of coercive control; and the requirement of consent opens a loophole in the strangulation offence. Considering the issues raised, and the clear risks and harms, we suggest that consideration should be given to whether it is ever possible to consent to strangulation and we consider possible reforms such as following the two-tiered approaches to consent used in the England and Wales law and elsewhere in Australia. We also conclude that law reforms such as these are partial solutions and there is significant need for more community education about the risks and harms of strangulation.
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    By Students, For Students: A History of the Melbourne University Union
    Waghorne, J (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2022-05-09)
    The Melbourne University Union was and is the very heart of social life for students, and this book tells its story from its origins in 1884 until today.
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    No, the Voice isn’t a ‘radical’ change to our Constitution
    Stephenson, S (The Conversation, 2023-02-23)
    Some people have criticised the draft proposal for a First Nations Voice as a radical change to Australia’s Constitution. This view is reflected in recent calls by some Liberal members of parliament for a different model that will be palatable to constitutional conservatives, and in concerns expressed by some commentators. But this is incorrect – the current model for the Voice is constitutionally conservative. Here’s why.
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    The future of work in an ageing world: Priorities for advancing age equality at work
    Blackham, A (Legal Service Bulletin Co-operative Ltd, 2024)
    In an ageing world, age equality is critical for securing the future of work. Yet workplaces have not been designed with demographic ageing in mind, and age discrimination remains prevalent. This article offers a provocation to encourage the use of an age lens when considering the future of work and workplace change. It puts forward suggestions for future research and scholarship, to reframe equality law, and to build a research agenda that helps advance workplace equality for people of all ages.
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    Pluralist Theories of Wrongful Discrimination
    Smith, D (Cambridge University Press, 2024-04)
    In Faces of Inequality, Sophia Moreau offers a pluralist theory of discrimination, according to which discriminatory conduct involves one or more of (at least) three types of wrong. She claims, further, that each of these wrongs represents a failure to treat some people as the equal of others. I argue that this further claim is mistaken. I also suggest that there may be no need for a pluralist theory of discrimination to identify a property that is shared by the different types of wrong recognised by the theory (beyond the fact that each is present in cases of wrongful discrimination).
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    Enacting Intersectionality: A Case Study of Gender Equality Law and Positive Equality Duties in Victoria
    Blackham, A ; Ryan, L ; Ruppanner, L (Monash University, 2024)
    While intersectionality offers important ideas to advance and extend understandings of inequality, it can be difficult to operationalise in practice. Intersectionality has rarely been integrated into the Australian legal framework. The Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic) is one of the first discrimination statutes in Australia seeking to operationalise intersectionality. The Act establishes a new positive equality duty for the Victorian public sector, including requirements for ‘defined entities’ to report data on intersectional gender equality. The Act, and its implementation, therefore offers a critical case study for evaluating an intersectional approach to equality. Drawing on legal doctrinal research; 44 qualitative expert interviews with those involved in the development and implementation of the Act; and documentary analysis, we consider how the Victorian public sector has responded to this new legal regime, and identify barriers and difficulties in advancing an intersectional approach to equality in practice. We argue that major implementation gaps have emerged in Victoria, reflecting intersectional inequality in the public service itself, and the developing understanding of intersectionality by key players. We put forward suggestions and reforms to address these limitations.