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(3) Visualising Law

  • Risks and rights
  • Consumers and credit
  • Detention and detection

Free Content:



Law & Culture

Sit Down Girlie

The Last Word

A new chapter for the Alternative Law Journal

Melissa Castan, Bronwyn Naylor and Deb Candy

Friends, after more than 40 years of independent publishing, the Alternative Law Journal is turning over a fresh page with a new publishing arrangement. From 2017, we will be joining Sage Publications which will coordinate the production and delivery of the Journal.

As many of you know, the traditional models of academic publishing face increasing pressures on all fronts: financial, technological and in production. In evaluating our future in the evolving publishing world, we believe that the Journal required the financial and production support available from a larger organisation. We have been fortunate in coming to an arrangement with one of the world's largest academic publishers which will ensure the on-going sustainability of our journal.

Our topical, critical and informative analysis will not change, however the back-of-house production and subscription management will be supported by the expertise and international reach of Sage.

With this new relationship, the AltLJ will be able to process the administration and editing of submissions more efficiently and easily, and provide a global audience for the journal's articles and commentary.

We are honoured to have been involved over the past decades in the editorial coordination and publication of the AltLJ; it has been wonderful to be part of an incredible community of authors, referees, editors, readers and subscribers who have sustained this unique publication. This community would not have been successful without the commitment of all who have contributed in so many different ways. We are proud of the journal we have all helped to shape, and look forward to your continued involvement.

The editorial team remain committed to bringing you the best in Australian scholarly writing on law reform, human rights, and social justice issues. Many of our readers have been long-standing supporters of the values embedded in our journal, and recognise the important part that it plays in the Australian legal landscape.

We hope you will continue on this journey with us, and support the journal in its next chapter.

Melissa Castan, Bronwyn Naylor and Deb Candy
The AltLJ editorial team

From 1 January 2017, subscriptions to the Journal will be handled by Sage at There will be some adjustment in subscription prices; we thank you for continuing to support the journal.

If you have any queries regarding your subscription to the Alternative Law Journal, please contact SAGE:

SAGE Publications Ltd, 1, Oliver's Yard, 55 City Road, London EC1Y 1SP.
Subscriptions Department: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7324 8701


Girlie Stands Up

Ann Arkie, May Hemm and Kay Oss

On Top of the Hill

Check out the papers from the Australian Women Lawyers (‘AWL’) 6th National Conference held in Perth in April 2016. Topics include, ‘Unintended consequence of government “metadata” legislation that enables domestic and family violence’ by Kylie Hillard, and gender equity in the law. AWL promotes the advancement of women in the legal profession and works to prevent discrimination against women and to make the legal system and the administration of justice more responsive to women’s needs. Its Patron is the Honourable Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO QC who told delegates in her Keynote Address, ‘In contemplating what this keynote should focus upon, I was struck by the thought that, as I approach my retirement (which is 18 months away), I feel as though I have quite a unique view of the Australian legal landscape and the place of women in it. From the top of the hill (not over it!) I can see both forward and back. I can see the past we have endured, the triumphs we have celebrated and the current challenges that will shape our futures’. Yes, women in the law have come a long way and have overcome many hurdles but there is still a long way to go, at home and internationally, before equality becomes a reality. Family, domestic and other violence, gender discrimination, unfriendly to families working conditions and men’s club attitudes still prevail in law and society in general.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 208


2016 Census debacle

Melissa deZwart

The Census website is unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience. There will be no fines for completing the Census after August 9. We will keep you updated.

Census of Population and Housing Website, Tuesday 9 August 2016

So read the message on the Australian Census website, after hours of users attempting to submit their 2016 Census returns being frustrated by error messages. Behind this fairly simple and apparently reassuring message that service would be reinstated shortly, lay a complicated trail of user confusion, fear of privacy invasions, fines and government cutbacks.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 209


Disability rights

Caitlin McInnes

At the federal level there have been a number of developments in relation to disability rights and elder rights. First, two Senate reports in the past year have highlighted issues of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disabilities in residential and care settings, as well as the poor state of education for people with disabilities. The first report made some very clear comments on the root causes of violence, abuse and neglect, noting it ‘begins with the de-valuing of people with disability … [which] permeates the attitudes of individual disability workers, service delivery organisations and most disturbingly, government systems designed to protect the rights of individuals’. Both reports are now available on the Parliamentary website.

Second, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (‘NDIS’) has begun to roll out, an initiative that was championed by both sides of politics as well as disability groups. In addition, Alastair McEwin was recently appointed as the new Disability Discrimination Commissioner. He was formerly the president of the Deaf Society and chairman of the Disability Council of NSW. He has been appointed in a full time capacity — a welcome restoration of this important role at the Australian Human Rights Commission (the last full time Commissioner was Graeme Innes, whose term ended in 2014).

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 210


Judicial Independence In Australia: Contemporary Challenges, Future Directions

Harry Hobbs

judicial-independence-in-australia-smRebecca Ananian-Welsh and Jonathan Crowe (eds); The Federation Press, 2016; 272 pages; $165.00 (hardback)

On 1 August this year, former Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Brian Martin stood down as head of the Royal Commission into Detention of Children in the Northern Territory. In announcing that he had requested the Governor-General to revoke the Letters Patent, Martin declared that ‘it is essential’ that the community has ‘full confidence in the independence and competence of the Commissioner’ as well as the findings of the Commissioner. Appointed only a few days previously, concern was mounting — particularly among the Indigenous community — that Martin was too closely connected to the Northern Territory corrections systems. There was no suggestion that Martin would not be scrupulously independent in carrying out his duties as Royal Commissioner, and his long judicial service evidences the contrary. Rather, the perception of a lack of independence was critical.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 217


Indigenous Peoples And Human Rights: International and Regional Jurisprudence

Katie O'Bryan

indigenous-peoples-and-human-rights-smBen Saul; Bloomsbury/Hart Publishing, 2016; 248 pp; $74.99 (paperback)

The human rights of Indigenous peoples came into clear focus with the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (‘UNDRIP’) in 2007. But it was not until 2009 that Australia came to the party, despite Indigenous Australians having a significant input into its development. Yet Indigenous peoples around the world had already been using various existing human rights mechanisms to promote and protect their rights, albeit with mixed results. In this book, Ben Saul draws together, in an accessible and readable form, the international and regional jurisprudence on human rights as it relates specifically to Indigenous peoples, and which was influential in the development of the UNDRIP.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 218


Leading Cases In Australian Law: A guide to the 200 most frequently cited judgments

Rohit Sud

leading-cases-in-australian-law-smDaniel Reynolds and Lyndon Goddard; The Federation Press, 2016; 480pp; $79.95 (paperback) 

Leading Cases in Australian Law is the first casebook in Australia, and the only casebook published in the 21st century, to provide succinct summaries and analysis of the most significant cases in Australian law at large. As Chief Justice Robert French notes in his foreword to the book, the text is part of a venerable tradition of casebooks dealing with leading cases in all areas of law. However, Leading Cases is a thoroughly modern iteration of its predecessors, and will serve as a very useful point of reference for present day students and practitioners.

The tradition of which the Chief Justice speaks began in 1837, when John Smith wrote A Selection of Leading Cases on Various Branches of the Law with Notes (Sweet and Maxwell, 1st ed, 1837)By the time the final edition was published in 1927, this book had evolved into a portly tome stretching across two volumes.  Well before the final edition was published, a further navigational guide had become necessary, in the form of John Indermaur’s An Epitome of Leading Common Law Cases: With Some Short Notes Thereon: Chiefly Intended as a Guide to ‘Smith’s Leading Cases’ (Stevens & Haynes, 1st ed, 1873)Thankfully, Leading Cases is shorter in both the length of its title and its text.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 219


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