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

CURRENT ISSUE

39(2) Public Interest — Private Rights

  • Whose security?
  • Open and closed justice
  • Vulnerable before the law

Free Content:

DownUnderAllOver

Law & Culture

Sit Down Girlie

The Last Word

Using the law to turn down the Vulnerability Thermostat

Graeme Innes

I was a lucky teenager. My family didn’t ‘wrap me in cotton wool’ because of my disability, and I knew the career I wanted when I ‘grew up’. The law.

I had a solidly middle-class family, with strong Christian ethics and values. While recognising the strengths of Australian society, I was not content. I saw ‘vulnerability’ and ‘disadvantage’. I wasn’t sure what I could do, but I knew the law would help.

Forty odd years later, as I complete my term as Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, I can reflect on our society — how it has changed, and whether it has improved. Such reflection is appropriate in this edition of the AltLJ, dealing with vulnerability.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 72

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Girlie Goes to Court

Madge E Strait

First Stop – Drug Court

In 2012 Victoria’s Children’s Court magistrate Greg Levine, with the assistance of a Churchill Fellowship, travelled to the UK and the US to research a successful drug treatment model. The result of his efforts was the opening, on 16 May 2014, of Australia’s first family drug treatment court. Between 30 and 50 families, in which children have been removed from their parents because of drug and alcohol problems, will take part in a three-year pilot. The goal will be reunification of the children with their families within one year with parents required to attend court weekly and have three drug tests per week. The parents will be offered drug rehabilitation treatments, housing assistance, counselling, mental health, anti-violence services and parenting education. Magistrate Levine says it is obvious that current child protection and adversarial court processes are not successful in these cases. In the US, 40 per cent of participating families have been successful. (Rachel Baxendale, ‘Magistrate gives hope to drug-hit families’, The Weekend Australian, 17–18 May 2014.)

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 137

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China And The Environment: The Green Revolution

Evan Hamman

china-and-the-environment150Sam Geall (Ed); Zed Books, 2013; 256 pages; $135.95 (hardback)

The Green Revolution is a collection of five essays on how law, media and civil society can influence environmental outcomes in China. Despite the grassroots success stories described in the book, it is hard to believe there has been a green ‘revolution’ in China, let alone the ‘green shoots’ of one. Dominant power still resides very much with the State and its relentless pursuit of economic growth, often at the expense of the natural environment. If there was one overriding criticism of Geall’s book then, it would be that it lacks a convincing argument tying the separate essays together. Without this, the title might better be served by posing a question rather than a conclusion: China and the Environment: A Green Revolution? But semantics aside, there are several fascinating and highly topical issues that Geall invites us to consider and he should be commended for that.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 144

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WADJDA

Jess Naylor

wadjda-posterDirector/writer: Haifaa Al Mansour; starring Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed; eOne/Hopscotch film distributors, 2012; 98 mins. Available on DVD, July 2014.

The star of Haifaa Al Mansour’s groundbreaking new film could be any other teenager. Wadjda blasts indie music in her room when her parents are talking to her and argues constantly with her mother, she talks about boys with her friends at school and hides electric blue nail polish from her teachers. However, it is the simple concepts of time and place that force both the film and Wadjda’s life into a territory that is worlds apart from any other teen movie.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 145

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Threats to Victoria’s Abortion Laws

Ronli Sifris
Victoria

An assessment of reproductive rights in Australia, particularly the right to access abortion services, reveals a political and legal landscape in which progress on one front is frequently accompanied by regression on another front. For example, in recent years there has been significant progress in the form of the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria (2008) and Tasmania (2013). At the same time, threats to the right of women to terminate a pregnancy have taken various forms. For example, in 2008 there was a failed attempt to remove Medicare funding for second trimester abortions, and legislation (known as Zoe’s Law) which explicitly recognises the foetus as a person in certain circumstances is currently before the New South Wales Parliament.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 142

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Sentenced to a job scheme

Sue Erickson
Northern Territory

The Sentenced to a Job scheme — an initiative of the Country Liberal government — commenced in the Northern Territory last year as part of an overall reform of the prison system. The government is calling on local businesses to employ low-security prisoners and those businesses are eligible for grants to support the scheme. The government encourages local businesses that specialise in food services, laundry, horticulture, mechanical, textiles, upholstery, metal fabrication, number plate production, screen printing, furniture products, construction, maintenance, and packaging and assembly to recruit prisoners while they are serving their sentence. Prisoners who may participate in the scheme are assessed by the Department of Correctional Services and are generally within the last 12 months of their sentence of imprisonment.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 140

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Federal Budget cuts to community legal centres

Liana Buchanan
Federal

In the week of the May Federal Budget, community legal centres learned of several decisions they say will cut free legal help and further reduce access to justice.

Fifty seven centres across Australia have been told they will lose funding in 2015–16 and 2016–17. These cuts represent a funding loss in each of those years of around $6 million and will affect the last two years of four-year funding agreements signed by the former government. This funding has been used to open new outreach offices, provide new family violence duty lawyer services, extend advice clinics for the homeless and deliver other, much needed frontline services.

(2014) 39(2) AltLJ 138

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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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