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


41(2) Public Law, Protecting Rights

  • Domestic relations
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Legal Practices

Free Content:



Law & Culture

Sit Down Girlie

The Last Word

Girlie feels like growling

Anne Gwish and Miss Errry

Zika Virus and Abortion

Writing online in Motherboard (22 February 2016) Leticia Naisa presents an excellent expose of the situation facing pregnant women in Brazil. Fuelled by the Zika virus and babies born with microcephaly, the abortion debate has reignited. Abortion is unlawful in Brazil and desperate women seek backyard abortions which may lead to horrible infections and deaths, and are expensive. Naisa writes that over a million illegal abortions are performed annually in Brazil and they are the fifth highest cause of maternal deaths.

Led by anthropologist Debora Diniz, a group of activists plans to ask the Federal Court of Brazil to change the law banning abortion: 'Our proposal for action is not only a discussion about abortion, but it is also for a social policy focused on these women and children that may now be born.' The group wants social protection and assistance for women who decide not to have an abortion particularly as the government has been negligent in not controlling the mosquitoes which carry the Zika virus.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 134


Implications of the PNG Supreme Court decision on offshore detention

Maria O’Sullivan

In April 2016, the highest court in Papua New Guinea found (in a unanimous decision) that detention of refugees and asylum seekers in its Australian-funded 'processing' centres is unconstitutional, Namah v Pato [2016] PJSC 13 (26 April 2016). Although the Supreme Court decision is not directly enforceable under Australian law, it will have significant legal and political implications for the continuing operation of Australia's offshore processing centres.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 135


Further curbs to political protest

Kira Levin
New South Wales

The Inclosed Lands Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 is the most recent example of the ongoing and cumulative legislative restriction of political protest in Australia. It comes after similar legislative reforms in Western Australia and Tasmania which have attempted to reduce the scope of effective non-violent forms of protest while at the same time privileging the rights of business and mining operations.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 136


Victoria begins Indigenous Treaty talks

Robert Corr

In February 2016, a meeting of about 500 Victorian Indigenous people voted unanimously against the Recognise campaign for a referendum to amend the Australian Constitution.

Dja Dja Wurrung elder Gary Murray told The Guardian, 'Recognition is about removing racist clauses in a white man's document that didn't even look after white women, let alone black people'.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 140


Native title from Mabo to Akiba: A Vehicle for Change and Empowerment?

Kate Galloway

Native title from Mabo to Akiba: A Vehicle for Change and Empowerment?
Sean Brennan, Megan Davis, Brendan Edgeworth, Leon Terrill (eds);
The Federation Press, 2015; 292 pages; $84.95 (paperback)

Beyond communal and individual ownership cover

Beyond communal and individual ownership: Indigenous Land Reform in Australia
Leon Terrill;
Routledge, 2015; 303 pages; UK£95 (hardback)

When I first encountered native title as a legal practitioner, having come from a commercial law background, I was surprised to see what I perceived to be negotiated yet largely-accepted strictures on native title claimants’ interests and the routine exclusion of commercial rights. Over a decade later, the landscape looks quite different. This edited book, Native Title from Mabo to Akiba, provides a comprehensive picture of key features of contemporary native title including the context for the shift in how we understand its potential.

The book has two parts. It commences with eight chapters on the legal dynamics in the development of native title, followed by a further nine chapters specifically on native title as a vehicle for Indigenous empowerment. The authors come from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, including policy, lawmaking, negotiation, research, and front line work with traditional owners. This provides the reader with wide-ranging viewpoints that canvass a spectrum of issues relevant to understanding what native title might deliver for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and, importantly, how.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 143


Judging for the people: A Social History of the Victorian Supreme Court 1841–2016

Stephen Gray

Judging-for-the-People-264x307Simon Smith (ed); RHSV/Allen & Unwin, 2016; $60 (hardcover)

In 2014, when Helen Garner published her account of the trial of Robert Farquharson for the murder of his three young sons in a Winchelsea dam, she dedicated her book to the Victorian Supreme Court, ‘this treasury of pain, this house of power and grief’. 

Reading this history of the Victorian Supreme Court, auspiced by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and edited by Simon Smith to mark the Court’s 175th anniversary, it is easy to see why.

A social history of the Court is, in a sense, a condensed history of Victoria itself, filtered through the lens of an institution built to accommodate and resolve its most intense political and social conflicts. These range from wills and gold rush crimes to Victoria’s own version of Dickens’ Jarndyce v Jarndyce, the fifty-year long battle over the construction contract for the Geelong-Ballarat railway (p 115), to the trials of Ned Kelly and Ronald Ryan. 

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 144


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