Law research to help victims of child abuse

Photograph of Ben Mathews

Professor Ben Mathews’s research on the law relating to child abuse and neglect has influenced legislative reform and policy development across Australia and internationally, including reforms to mandatory reporting laws and laws relating to civil claims for injury through child sexual abuse.

Mandatory reporting of suspected abuse

Each year, thousands of Australian children are sexually abused, causing lifelong psychological and social cost, and vast socioeconomic costs. Professor Mathews’s work was a key driver behind the enactment of the Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting—Mason’s Law) Amendment Bill 2016, which requires early childhood educators and carers to report suspected cases of child physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Reform of statute of limitations for civil claims

Until recently, survivors of child abuse had only three years after turning 18 in which to make a claim. The time limit, in addition to psychological injuries, made it almost impossible for survivors to bring civil claims. Professor Mathews recognised the need for change, and has worked systematically since 2003 to bring about reform across Australia.

Professor Mathews’s research was cited extensively by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2015, which recommended that the time limits for civil claims be removed. The time limit has now been abolished in seven states and territories, opening up the possibility for survivors to make civil claims.

A voice for the vulnerable

Find out more about Professor Mathews’s work in our research impact story, A voice for the vulnerable.

EVENT: Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development

Join some of the leading thinkers in their fields for a one-day symposium on 6 September 2018, on the relationship between intellectual property and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As well as special guest Associate Professor Sara Bannerman, the Canada Research Chair in Communication Policy and Governance at McMaster University, this event will feature speakers from QUT, Griffith University, and the University of Queensland.

Associate Professor Sara Bannerman – Canada Research Chair in Communication Policy and Governance, McMaster University

This event is part of the research theme of international trade and sustainable development at the QUT IP and Innovation Law Research Program. It will cover issues such as access to knowledge, public health, access to clean energy and climate change, and the global economy. Particular focus will be given to global issues within the remit of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Development Agenda.

This event considers the relationship between intellectual property and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres has expressed concerns about the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. ‘Implementation has begun, but the clock is ticking… The rate of progress in many areas is far slower than needed to meet the targets by 2030.’ The Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization Francis Gurry has emphasised the interconnections between intellectual property and the Innovation Goal (SG9). He also stressed that innovation has an impact on a number of other SDGs, such as SDG2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), SDG3, SDG6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), SDG7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), SDG 8, SDG11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable), and SDG13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).

Special guest

Associate Professor Sara Bannerman
Canada Research Chair in Communication Policy and Governance, McMaster University


Dr Md Shahiduzzaman – Research Fellow, QUT Business School, Management, QUT
Muhammad Zaheer Abbas – PhD Law Candidate, QUT
Dr Rowena Maguire – Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Law School, QUT
David J. Jefferson, JD – PhD Candidate, University of Queensland
Dr Carol Richards – Senior Lecturer, School of Management, Business School, QUT
Professor Charles Lawson – Griffith University
Associate Professor Saiful Karim – Faculty of Law, Law School, QUT
Professor Virginia Barbour – Director AOASG, QUT
Professor Matthew Rimmer – Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, Faculty of Law, QUT
Sanath Sameera Wijesinghe – PhD Researcher, QUT
Jocelyn Bosse  – PhD Candidate, University of Queensland
Dr Kamalesh Adhikari – Research Fellow, University of Queensland
Dr Peter Walters – Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland
Dr Frances Humphries – Griffith University

Please follow the link to register –

QUT researchers invited to appear before Committee on Indigenous Affairs

On 16 and 17 July, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous  Affairs held public hearings in Parliament House, Brisbane. The committee is responding to long-standing calls from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, members of the community and industry for action and are tasked with investigating possible legal responses to the growing presence of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘style’ art and crafts products and merchandise for sale across Australia. Read about the inquiry.

Side-on view of Stephanie Parkin, seated as a desk and leaning towards a microphone.

Ms Stephanie Parkin appeared before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs

QUT Law School academics, Professor Matthew Rimmer and Dr Kylie Pappalardo, and intellectual property lawyer and QUT MPhil student, Stephanie Parkin, were invited to appear before the committee. Other members of the community were also invited to give evidence after filing submissions with the committee, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and business owners, wholesalers and representatives from the Queensland Government.

Professor Rimmer spoke about the long history of struggles around Indigenous intellectual property in Australia, and the approaches that international law bodies and other countries have taken to combat similar problems elsewhere. Many of these struggles and approaches are documented in a recent collection on Indigenous Intellectual Property, edited by Professor Rimmer.

Ms Parkin provided a written submission to the committee in November 2017 and at the hearing spoke about why accurate labelling of foreign-created and controlled ‘Aboriginal style’ art and products is not enough to protect the legal interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Ms Parkin, a Quandamooka person from North Stradbroke Island, is undertaking her Master of Philosophy research project on the prevalence of fake art and products in Australia and the gaps in legal protection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Group of people standing side-by-side inside the room for public hearings.

Some of the Brisbane community who attended the public hearings and gave evidence, pictured with members of the committee (left to right): Ted O’Brien MP, John Smith Gumbula, Nancy Bamaga, Bob Weatherall, Warren Snowdown MP, Sharon Claydon MP, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, Michael Connolly, Elliot Bledsoe and Stephanie Parkin. Photo credit: Delvene Cockatoo-Collins.

‘There are a variety of issues at play here and any proposed solution must include both legal reform and non-legal remedies, including educational campaigns for consumers and long-term support for artists and art centres. In my view, the existence of inauthentic Aboriginal art and products must also cause us to reflect how we, as a nation, value and respect Aboriginal cultural expression,’ said Ms Parkin.

Dr Pappalardo discussed the deficiencies in copyright law for protecting Indigenous art from exploitation. She also highlighted lessons raised by Indigenous artists attending a symposium held at QUT in June on Protecting Indigenous Artwork from Exploitation, including the importance of policies to support the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists within Australian communities.

The committee has a continuing schedule of public hearings around the country. They aim to identify ways to prevent the misuse and exploitation of cultural expression through inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and products.

National Reconciliation Week 2018 @ QUT Law

Banner image showing grayscale historical photo of ATSI people, overlaid with text details of National Reconciliation Week 2018

On Tuesday 29 May, Faculty of Law staff gathered for a morning tea as part of National Reconciliation Week.

National Reconciliation Week is a time when we can reflect on Australia’s reconciliation journey. The theme for NRW2018 was ‘Don’t Keep History a Mystery: Learn. Grow. Share.’ and we are encouraged to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories to help us grow as a nation.

Thousands of events were held across the country during National Reconciliation Week, and each year it’s an opportunity for us to think about how we can contribute to reconciliation as a faculty.

Food for the morning tea was provided by the First Food Co, a catering company specialising in bush foods. Gold-coin donations were collected and will go to Reconciliation Australia. Thanks to Wendy Cusack, Bianca Hill-Jarro and Hope Johnson for their assistance in organising and preparing for the event.

Reconciliation is an ongoing process, so for more information and ideas about how you can contribute, explore the Reconciliation Australia website and read QUT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.

Keep an eye out for other reconciliation events coming up at QUT during NAIDOC week (8-15 July) and Murri-Ailan Way (8-10 August).