Professor Sarah Murray

Started at UWA: 2007

Applying legal expertise to improve community justice

This work is important because the Australian criminal justice system is in crisis. Marred by recidivism, addiction, family violence, overflowing courtrooms, crippling prison spending and disproportionate incarceration rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the system is broken. Community Justice Centres are a potential panacea and can begin to transform society and communities by operating outside the traditional legal frame and matching the real needs of people.Professor Sarah Murray

Sarah Murray’s legal and professional career is underpinned by her interest and expertise in community justice and using the law to create a positive impact on society. Practising first as a commercial and community lawyer, Sarah Murray is Professor at UWA and the Deputy Head of School, Community and Engagement. She strongly believes in combining intellectual endeavours with making a difference, and takes great fulfilment from her work.

Professor Murray explores areas of public law and legal institutional change through her research, with a particular interest in community justice centres and the constitutional law implications of less-adversarial curial processes.

Professor Murray was awarded the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Law by Monash University in 2011, and her thesis was published in 2014.

She is also an accomplished author, publishing two books and works across a range of Australian and international journals. A particular highlight for Professor Murray was visiting the Centre for Court Innovation in New York as the 2017 recipient of the Fay Gale Fellowship. This enabled her to visit some of the first community justice centres in the world, including the Midtown Community Court and the Red Hook Community Justice Centre.

Professor Murray has held numerous internal and external positions including:

  • Advisory Board Member – Constitutional Centre of Western Australia
  • WA Convenor and Co-opted Council Member of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law
  • WA Co-Convenor of the Electoral Regulation Research Network


  • BA (Hons), LLB (Hons), PhD

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Winner of the UWA Fay Gale Fellowship, 2017

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UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Distinguished Early Career Fellowship for the Humanities, 2015

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Winner of the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Law at Monash University, 2011

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Winner of the National Mediation Conference Scholarship, 2010


Pocketing the Proceeds of Crime: The Legislation, Criminological Perspectives and Experiences

The overall aim of this project is to produce a suite of best practice recommendations for the reform of Australian proceeds of crime legislation with a view to ensuring just, valid and effective statutory schemes that achieve their legitimate objectives. This aim will be achieved through the first ever comparative criminological and legal analysis of Australian proceeds of crime legislation in three Australian jurisdictions: New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. These recommendations will contribute to Australia being a key player in the international effort to address organised drug-related crime and terrorism.

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Public Purposes Trust Family Violence and Property Disputes: A pilot research project

This is an exploratory research project into a perceived unmet need for separated parties caught in a family violence dynamic to have access to legal assistance in order to resolve their property disputes.

The aim of the project is to scope the extent of the apparent problem and to explore ways of increasing the provision of legal and dispute resolution services to this sector of the community.

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WA Neighbourhood Justice Centre Feasibility Study

Dr Murray is conducting a feasibility study with Professor Harry Blagg and Suzie May for a pilot community justice centre in Western Australia. In a community justice centre, the court works with an interdisciplinary team to address the causes of criminality such as drug addiction, cognitive impairment, mental illness, poverty, abuse and intergenerational trauma. The community becomes a key agent of change, partnering with the centre to tackle local issues and improve safety and community cohesion.

The experience in Australia and overseas indicates that community justice centres, if properly designed, evaluated and resourced, can have enormous social benefits and can become hubs for justice innovation. In addressing the root causes of criminality, they can fuel significant reductions in crime, rates of reoffending and justice expenditure as well as creating culturally safer justice experiences, and courts which operate more efficiently and which the public respect and trust.

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Professor Murray has received many teaching awards and nominations throughout her career. Her teaching of constitutional law is interactive and engaging as she seeks to connect with each student.

A stimulating discussion and gaining insights during learning are cornerstones of her classrooms. Professor Murray believes in creating a personal experience for students, staying in contact with many students throughout their degree and beyond. She believes UWA’s Law School is a place where the love of the law filters through everything we do.

Professor Murray's areas of teaching expertise include Constitutional Law (especially Chapter III, referendums and electoral research), Foundation of Public Law, and Court Innovation and Court Reform.

Related research hubs

Professor Murray works with a number of research entities on a range of legal issues, particularly around social justice and government policy.


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Fay Gale Fellowship recipient

Criminology Research Grant

  • 'Pocketing the Proceeds of Crime: The Legislation, Criminological Perspectives and Experiences'
  • Natalie Skead, Hilde Tubex and Tamara Tulich

Public Purposes Trust Family Violence and Property Disputes: A pilot research project' Collaborative team

WA Neighbourhood Justice Centre Feasibility Study


Institute of Advanced Studies Distinguished Early Career Fellowship

More grants and publications



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Supervisor opportunities

Contact Sarah Murray