Equality of Access to Justice in the Criminal Justice System

Closing Date

31st March 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

People with complex communication needs (including children, people with cognitive, physical and mental impairments and people with language impairments) face significant barriers in obtaining equal access to justice in both civil and criminal jurisdictions. A number of special measures have been implemented across Australia to enhance these people’s participation in the justice process, including pre-trial recording of their evidence, the use of communication assistants, enabling them to have a support person with them while testifying and transmitting their evidence via CCTV so that they do not need to testify in court. Most of these measures apply only in the criminal jurisdiction at trial. There is a dearth of measures available during civil trials and tribunal proceedings and to assist people in interacting with lawyers and the police. There are many issues that arise in this context that provide opportunities for post-graduate research including:

  • Cross-jurisdictional comparative analysis of the different models implemented in Australia to assist people with complex communication needs in navigating the justice system. There is considerable diversity between the current schemes on offer;
  • Whether and how models adopted in some Scandinavian countries, like the Barnehus, might be implemented in Australia;
  • How an integrated approach to dealing with the problems faced by people with complex communication needs might be developed for Australian jurisdictions;
  • Whether it is necessary to abandon altogether the adversarial approach in enabling people with complex communication needs to participate on a more equal footing in the justice system;
  • Cross-jurisdictional research on the different models operating in Australia and key stakeholder responses to them, including those of judges, lawyers, the police and witness support agencies.


The following eligibility criteria apply to this scholarship:

  • The scholarship is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international candidates;
  • The degree must be undertaken on a full-time basis;
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a First Class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector;
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills.

Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Knowledge and skills that will be ranked highly include:

  • Legal  service delivery
  • Qualitative  research methods, particularly in depth interviewing

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor.

Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact Associate Professor Terese Henning for more information.