Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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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.
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    Mixed methods research
    Blackham, A ; Blackham, A ; Cooney, S (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2024-08)
    Mixed methods research designs meaningfully integrate both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand a research problem. Mixed methods research methodologies can be used to cast a nuanced light on complex legal problems, generating new answers which would not be perceived with one data source alone. However, mixed methods research appears rare in labour law research, perhaps reflecting gaps in legal data, the time and cost of undertaking such studies, and limited training in quantitative methods in some jurisdictions. This chapter identifies data sources that could enable a new generation of mixed methods labour law research.
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    Equality Law Protection for Legal Education: Internships, Volunteering and Clinics
    Blackham, A (Faculty of Law, Bond University, 2024)
    ‘Practical’ legal education offers significant educational and personal benefits. However, it also comes with risks that need to be actively managed, including the risk of students experiencing harassment and discrimination. This article considers the scope of equality law, and how it applies to different forms of ‘practical’ legal education activities. It considers how equality law applies to ‘volunteer’ positions, including those in law firm partnerships, barristers’ chambers, and community organisations, legal internships and law school-run legal clinics. It considers the complexity of the legal framework, and the resulting difficulties law students might have in asserting their equality rights. It argues there is a particular need to address three gaps in the current legal framework for practical legal education activities, by: adopting a broader definition of ‘work’ to include unpaid roles; regulating harassment on grounds other than sex; and protecting law students from the actions of third parties, such as clients and members of the public.
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    Faces of Inequality: Reflections on Exceptional Developments
    Blackham, A (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2024-04)
    In Faces of Inequality, Sophia Moreau puts forward a pluralistic theory of how discrimination wrongs people. I approach Moreau's ideas not as a legal philosopher or theorist, but as an empirical and socio-legal scholar of equality law. In this commentary, I pick up on five provocations that emerge for me from Moreau's work: on reasonable accommodations, on comparison in equality law, on the public/private divide, on the justification of discrimination, and on discrimination as a personal wrong. While Moreau's work is grounded in the common themes or shared features that emerge from equality laws across jurisdictions, I consider what these themes mean for the uncommon ground, drawing on exceptional developments in discrimination law in some Australian jurisdictions, and our experience with the “exceptional” protected characteristic of age.
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    Corporate Culture and Systems Intentionality: part of the regulator's essential toolkit
    Bant, E ; Faugno, R (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2023-07-03)
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    Changing climates, compounding challenges: a participatory study on how disasters affect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in Fiji.
    Murphy, N ; Rarama, T ; Atama, A ; Kauyaca, I ; Batibasaga, K ; Azzopardi, P ; Bowen, KJ ; Bohren, MA (BMJ, 2023-12-16)
    Pacific youth are at the forefront of the climate crisis, which has important implications for their health and rights. Youth in Fiji currently bear a disproportionate burden of poor experiences and outcomes related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). There is limited information about how the increasing climate impacts may affect their SRHR, and what the implications may be for climate action and disaster risk reduction. We aimed to explore the experiences of 21 Fijian youth in fulfilling their SRHR when living through multiple natural hazards. We conducted 2 workshops and 18 individual semistructured interviews using visual and storytelling methods. Irrespective of the type of hazard or context of disasters, participants identified limited agency as the main challenge that increased SRHR risks. Through reflexive thematic analysis, we identified four themes centred around 'youth SRHR agency'; (1) information and knowledge, (2) community and belonging, (3) needs and resources, and (4) collective risks. These themes encompassed multiple factors that limited youth agency and increased their SRHR risks. Participants highlighted how existing challenges to their SRHR, such as access to SRHR information being controlled by community gatekeepers, and discrimination of sexual and gender diverse youth, were exacerbated in disasters. In disaster contexts, immediate priorities such as water, food and financial insecurity increased risks of transactional early marriage and transactional sex to access these resources. Daily SRHR risks related to normalisation of sexual and gender-based violence and taboos limited youth agency and influenced their perceptions of disasters and SRHR risks. Findings offer important insights into factors that limited youth SRHR agency before, during and after disasters. We underscore the urgency for addressing existing social and health inequities in climate and disaster governance. We highlight four key implications for reducing youth SRHR risks through whole-of-society approaches at multiple (sociocultural, institutional, governance) levels.
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    Making robo-advisers careful? Duties of care in providing automated financial advice to consumers
    Paterson, JM (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-01-01)
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    Boulevards of broken dreams
    Thorburn, M ; Weir, B ; Bell, M (Law Institute of Victoria, 2024-03-01)
    Lawyers commencing legal action to enforce clients' rights can feel like they are confronted with an impenetrable maze. A raft of regulatory reforms proposed or in train at the start of 2024 offer a pathway through that, maze, but one which requires careful navigation.