Alternative Law Journal:
an Australian, refereed law journal

Welcome to the Alternative Law Journal! Here you can sample our journal with free previews (under the ‘News & Views’ menu). To purchase the full journal — with our signature mix of legal news, opinions, articles, as well as regular columns, art and cartoons — please visit our subscription page.

The AltLJ, focusing on

  •  social justice, human rights and law reform
  •  critique of the legal system
  •  developments in alternative practice
  •  community legal education


39(3) Law In Open And Closed Environments

  • Wild wild law
  • Accessing justice
  • Regulating refugees

Free Content:


Law & Culture

Sit Down Girlie

The Last Word

Convenience voting: The end of election day?

Graeme Orr

When and where we vote is a central element of the ritual of electoral democracy. Over the past decade there has been a significant shift towards ‘convenience’ voting in many western democracies; a shift which threatens to deconstruct the very notion of election day.

Convenience voting involves ‘relaxed administrative rules and procedures by which citizens can cast a ballot at a time and place other than the precinct on election day’.1 The idea is to offer electors numerous different paths to the ballot box besides the traditional practice of attending a local polling station on election day. The assumption is that increasing numbers of people are either so time-poor or unmotivated by electoral politics that turning out on election day is an unreasonable expectation.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 151


Racial Vilification Law Unites Australians

Tim Soutphommasane

Few political debates have the effect of uniting Australians. Yet, in one sense, the contest over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act did precisely that. There has been an emphatic affirmation of our commitment to racial tolerance.

The federal government made the right decision in abandoning its proposed repeal of section 18C. There remains no good or compelling reason for changing the law — let alone in the manner proposed by the government. Its exposure draft, had it been enacted, would have risked emboldening racial prejudice and discrimination. Such concerns were widespread. They came not only from multicultural and Aboriginal communities, but from all sections of Australian society.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 150


Deaths in custody

Steven Castan
Western Australia

An aboriginal woman died in custody in the Pilbara region on Monday 4 August 2014 after complaining of feeling unwell and being taken to hospital three times over the weekend. Medical staff provided a ‘medical fitness to be held in custody’ certificate before she was returned to the lockup, yet she still died in custody.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 201


Electoral law

Allan Ardill

Following a swing of 18.5 per cent away from the Liberal National Party (‘LNP’) government in the July 2014 Stafford 
by-election the Premier flagged policy changes. Among these was a return to bi-partisan appointment of the Chair of the Crime and Corruption Commission (‘CCC’), abandoning bikie-only prisons under the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act, and parliamentary estimates committees no longer to be held simultaneously.

The LNP still enjoys a considerable majority with Labor now holding just nine of the 89 seats. The by-election was the first to apply LNP amendments to the Electoral Act 1992. Among the new laws was the requirement for voters to provide identification under s 107(3). The changes also saw the lifting of political donation disclosure from $1000 to $12 400 under s 201A Electoral Act 1992.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 198


National security law update

Andrew Zammit

Australian citizens continue to join proscribed terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq. This has gone from being a neglected security concern to becoming the Australian government’s ‘number one national security priority’.

The result is that three sets of new national security legislation are being introduced in quick succession, which carries great risks for human rights and effective counter-terrorism.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 195


Launch of Community Legal Centre Hub

Naomi Gould

After a prolonged period in cramped and unsuitable premises, a collection of Community Legal Centres have now settled in to a new ‘CLC Hub’. The premises were officially opened by the ACT Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, in March 2014. The new hub houses Welfare Rights & Legal Centre (which incorporates StreetLaw, Night Time Legal Advice Service, and the Disability Discrimination Legal Service), Women’s Legal Centre and the Tenants’ Union of the ACT.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 196


GIRLIE Goes Good, Bad and Dumb

Lee-Gail Ease

AIDS 2014

Congratulations, Melbourne, on hosting a truly fabulous 20th AIDS International 2014 Conference in July. The meeting was clouded by the loss of friends and delegates on the crashed M17 Malaysia Airlines flight, including Joep Lange, one of six researchers and activists travelling to the Conference. Lange, a past-President of the IAS, was a brilliant researcher — the type of person whose contributions change the history of epidemics. However this is a community that is no stranger to loss and bereavement and the overall spirit of AIDS 2014 was inspirational. Talk about unity in diversity! Girlie loved it.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 193


The Death Of The Sun

Luke Rowe

The lament of Charles Dickens, and the NSW Criminal Courts

WL Morison said that Lord Denning could recite the opening paragraphs of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House by heart.1 I suppose Lord Denning hoped nothing of the sort could be said about any court that he presided over. Bleak House opens as follows:

LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. … And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.2

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 206


Charlie’s Country

Samuel Blashki

charliescountryDirector: Rolf de Heer; starring David Gulpilil; eOne film distributor, 2013; 108 minutes.

Available on DVD November 2014.

Charlie’s Country tells the story of Charlie, an indigenous man living in a remote community whose traditional way of life becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. Charlie is exasperated by frequent visits from the police, interfering with his life and trying to enforce laws that his community doesn’t understand. Charlie, played by David Gulpilil, desperately clings to traditional ways as he attempts to find his place in a country that has drastically changed.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 203


From the Vault

Click on the links below to download free articles from the archives...

Female Friends, Nicola Roxon & Kris Walker
Alternative Law Journal 19(3), June 1994

Advocacy before the Parole Board, Viginia Bell & Merrilyn Walton
Legal Service Bulletin, June 1984


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