Obiter Dicta

December 2020


Glowing laptop in darkMinderoo Tech &Policy Lab at UWA

The exciting, culture-driven Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab opened its doors at the UWA Law School in September 2020. Headed by associate professors Julia Powles and Jacqueline Alderson, the Lab is underpinned by an understanding of where the crucial gaps exist in technology, law and policy. It will collaborate with other Minderoo centres and intiatives at the University of Cambridge, the University of California, Los Angeles, and New York University; at UWA the Lab will specifically tackle lawlessness in the technology ecosystem. 


UWA Law School Dean's Circle  welcome to new members

The Dean’s Circle, launched in November 2019 celebrates philanthropy and the individuals who have committed to making a vital contribution to the future of legal education at UWA. We welcome new Dean’s Circle members Liam Elphick and Jill Murdoch.


New scholarships for JD students

The JD Scholarship for the Promotion of Social Justice, generously established by Bruno Fiannaca and Julie Grbavac has been awarded for the first time. This is a $5,000 scholarship for a student in their third year of the JD who has a passion for social justice and is experiencing financial hardship. 

The Paul Bendat Memorial Indigenous Scholarship in Law, worth $5000, is funded by the Bendat Family Foundation to encourage and assist high-achieving Indigenous Australian students experiencing financial hardship to pursue a Juris Doctor at the University.

The Melvin Yeo Jessup Moot Scholarship, worth $5000, is funded by Melvin Yeo to encourage and assist a high-achieving student who is experiencing financial hardship to undertake the LAWS5162 Jessup International Moot Competition as part of a Juris Doctor at the University.


Ian William Payne McCall 19262020

Ian McCall
Ian McCall

Ian McCall will probably be remembered by most as the Chief Judge of the Family Court of Western 
Australia from 1989 to 1996, and – before his elevation to Chief Judge – as one of the original judges of that Court from 1976 onwards. However, before being appointed to the Family Court, he was a member of the Law School staff for nearly twenty years, rising to the rank of associate professor, and deputising for Eric Edwards as Dean in 1975 and 1976. He was appointed to the bench direct from the Law School, an unusual distinction either in Western Australia or anywhere else.

After leaving school in 1944, Ian served in the Navy for the last two years of the war, and then enrolled in the Law School in 1947. As an ex-service student, he was paid a living wage during his student years, and was allowed to serve one of the two years in articles then required concurrently with his last year at Law School. In the same class as Ian were Bob Hawke and John Toohey, but also – and more importantly for McCall’s career – Alan Barblett and David Anderson. The three, who all started Law School on the same day, were all appointed as original judges of the Family Court in 1976. In his last year, McCall was President of the Blackstone Society.

In 1957, he was persuaded by Professor Frank Beasley to leave practice and join him as a full-time member of the Law School staff. Beasley had already recruited Eric Edwards the previous year. It is difficult for present-day staff and students to contemplate the fact that the Law School staff at this time only numbered about four; all the other lectures were given by visiting practitioners. McCall had been employed as a part-time lecturer a year or two earlier, to teach the new subject of Domestic Relations (the ancestor of Family Law). While at the Law School he also taught various other subjects including Torts and Public and Private International Law. McCall kept close links with the practising profession, and spent a study leave back in practice. When asked to join the Family Court bench, the transition was not as major as might be the case today.

Students remembered McCall as smartly dressed, a car owner in days when car ownership was comparatively rare, and an enthusiastic participant in staff-student cricket matches and golf days. He and Eric Edwards used their contacts to find articles for students who wanted to enter the legal profession. McCall clearly got on very well with Frank Beasley; he also acted as a mentor to a young Anthony Dickey when he joined the staff in the 1970s, encouraging him to become admitted to practice and develop an interest in Family Law. Today, Dickey is a QC and the author of one of Australia’s leading Family Law texts. 

The Law School extends its sincere condolences to the late Ian McCall’s family.

Emeritus Professor Peter Handford. 
Peter is writing a history of the Law School, to be published when the Law School reaches its centenary in 2027.


NAIDOC Perth Program of the Year Awards runner-up

The Law School’s Indigenisation of the Juris Doctor Curriculum Project was runner-up in the NAIDOC Perth Program of the Year Awards. It was fitting that JD student Andrew Dhu attended the ceremony to receive the award on behalf of the School. It is recognition in particular of the excellent work Ambelin Kwaymullina has put into developing and implementing the project and developing our JD curriculum.


Book launch: The Tuning Cymbal

Cover of book The Tuning Cymbal

The Tuning Cymbal – Selected Papers and Speeches of the Hon Robert French AC, edited by Robert Pascoe, published by The Federation Press and sponsored by the Australian Academy of Law, will be launched online on Tuesday 15 December.

“This collection of papers and speeches draws on the papers and speeches of one of Australia's leading jurists, the Hon Robert French AC. The book is divided into ten parts, each reflecting an aspect of Robert French's career, including indigenous issues, human rights, public law, commercial dispute resolution and the judicial system. Robert French's contributions are given context through commentaries by judges, legal academics and



Contractual Interpretation: Local and International Perspectives

The Law School and Ashurst hosted a free two-hour Zoom seminar on Contractual Interpretation. The Chair, Dr Felicity Maher, introduced the three eminent speakers:    
  • Joshua Thomson SC, Solicitor General
  • Justice Ken Martin, Supreme Court of WA
  • Associate Professor Solene Rowan, London School of Economics 
The Solicitor-General spoke on the process of construction generally, highlighting some particular principles. Justice Martin considered two classic cases, BP v Hastings and Codelfa, and what they tell us about the scope of evidence admissible to support an ad hoc implied term in written contracts. Dr Rowan took a comparative approach, analysing some problematic aspects of contractual interpretation in England and France.


WA second legal symposium on unmet need in protection and care

The Law School was pleased to host this symposium on 1 December 2020, pictured below, highlighting unmet need for legal representation in protection and care. The keynote address by Professor Helen Milroy emphasised the importance of trauma-informed practice. Participants also heard from panels of experts about Aboriginal Family Led Decision-Making and Innovative Practice, and received advocacy tips from experienced legal practitioners.

Legal Symposium

UWA Law School online CPD series

The UWA Law School online CPD series allows practitioners to earn CPD points by attending live webinars delivered by UWA Law School academics who have deep expertise in their respective fields.

The webinars are held on Wednesdays from 1–2pm. To register, visit the UWA Law School website.


Latest issue of the UWA Law Review

UWA Law Review

The latest edition of the Law Review features articles by authors including UWA Law School staff and alumni. This special edition on environmental law covers a range of fascinating topics, including the legal geographies of the troposphere, Germany's climate change agenda, and disaster risk reduction, vulnerability and the law.

Student achievements

2020 Ciara Glennon Memorial Scholarship

Dennis Glennon, Isobel Philip, Adrian Chai (Ashurst) at Glennon Scholarship presentation

The 2020 Ciara Glennon Memorial Scholarship was awarded to second-year Juris Doctor student Isabel Philip in May 2020Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the formal presentation was held in October. 

Associate Meredith Blake, Ciara Glennon Memorial Scholarship Selection Committee Academic Member, describes the event:

"2020's award ceremony of the Ciara Glennon scholarship was a much smaller affair as a result of COVID19 restrictions. However, as always, the occasion was characterised by its warm and reflective spirit, commemorating Ciara’s life and legacy. This year's recipient spoke movingly of her gratitude for the opportunities the scholarship has given her to help lead law-reform efforts in relation to Indigenous children."

"In the beautiful gardens outside the Prescott Room, two of the scholarship's past winners, Grant Gilmour and Zoe Bush, presented Denis and Una Glennon with an album containing penned reflections of many past winners on the enduring impact the scholarship has had on their lives and careers."

"The ceremony continues to be one of the most significant events in the Law School's calendar, but we were all especially grateful for the opportunity to hold it this year."

Hear Isabel explain her volunteer work and what the scholarship means to her.

In the photo to the left are Dennis Glennon, Isabel Philip, and Adrian Chai from Ashurst.


Megan Menon
Megan Menon


2020 McCusker Law Scholarship

A presentation to the inaugural recipient of this scholarship, Megan Menon – delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions  was held on 24 November.


JD scholarship recipients

Congratulations to the following JD scholarship recipients:

  • Ava Hill-De Monchaux – inaugural recipient of the JD Scholarship for the Promotion of Social Justice
  • Aleasha Sanchez-Lawson – the Anna & Nicoletta Ciffolilli Scholarship for Women in Law
  • Julia Symons – inaugural recipient of the Melvin Yeo Jessup Moot Scholarship
  • Tyson McEwan – inaugural recipient of the Paul Bendat Memorial Indigenous Scholarship in Law


Higher Degrees by Research completed in 2020

This was an outstanding year for Higher Degree by Research success at the Law School. Below are the students who will complete or have completed in 2020. The thesis is for a PhD unless otherwise stated to be for the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil). 

  • A proposed new military justice regime for the Australian Defence Force during peacetime and in time of war – David Denton QC
  • The relationship between climate change, sustainable development and human rights – Olufunto Soje (MPhil)
  • Facing north, reading China: How the Australian press frames China through the lens of the one-child policy – Runping (Serene) Zhu
  • Perth gaol and colonial penality 1875-1888 – Taruia Nicholls
  • How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the fossil fuel Industry? A comparative analysis of Australian and Norwegian legislation and policies – Christine Henry (SJD)
  • Comparative tax law: The foundations of a discipline and its potential to advance knowledge  Professor Kimberley Brooks
  • Evaluation of the transplantability of the doctrine of proper law of the contract from Australian law into the Jordanian legal system – Mohammad Rasmi Yousef Al-umari
  • Reforming the recognition of expenditure in Australian income tax law: A principled framework for the characterisation of capital outgoings and timing deductions – Christina Allen


Students visit the WA Court of Appeal

Students at WA Court of Appeal

By invitation of the President of the Court of Appeal, groups of our JD students attended the Court to observe the hearing of appeals and to speak with the judges and counsel involved. The court visits enable students to obtain a better understanding of the roles of judges and counsel, and bring the law to life.

The visits have made a real impression on those students who attended. We would like to share with you the thanks and words of some of the students themselves, following the visit in October:

"...the Court of Appeal visit reminded me of the reasons why I wanted to study law..."

"These visits are, in my opinion, rare learning opportunities and a real privilege..."

"It was a great experience. I loved having the opportunity to speak to the judges before watching the trial. I learnt so much. I know I will not forget the legal principles that were on appeal."

In the photo, left to right, are Yi Ling Ho, Ben Wong, Siema Safaeefar, Registrar Gillich, Leigh Oldfield, Narissa Suresh and Anis Rezae.


Blackstone news

The Law School congratulates 2021 Blackstone President Bec Lu.

Staff updates

Research excellence

Stella Tarrant
Stella Tarrant

Australian Legal Research Awards, Council of Australian Law Deans

Congratulation to Associate Professor Stella Tarrant (pictured right) – joint winner in the Non-Traditional Outputs category for the report co-authored with Professor Julia Tolmie (The University of Auckland) and Mr George Giudice (Principal, George Giudice Law Chambers) entitled Transforming Legal Understandings of Intimate Partner Violence.


Congratulations also to Senior Lecturer Jacinta Dharmananda who was shortlisted for the national Article/Chapter in the Early Career Researcher Article category and Adjunct Professor Simon Young in the Best Book Chapter/Article category.


Criminology article award

Congratulations Professor Harry Blagg and Dr Tamara Tulich, awarded Best Academic Article on Restorative Justice 2020 by the European Society of Criminology's Restorative Justice, for the article: H Blagg, T Tulich and S May, ‘Aboriginal youth with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and enmeshment in the Australian justice system: can an intercultural form of restorative justice make a difference?’ (2019) 22(2) Contemporary Justice Review 105-121.


Law School law reform projects 2020-2021

The following members of our staff have been awarded funds to conduct research on three law reform topics:


Teaching excellence

UWA Teaching Awards

The Law School warmly congratulates 

  • Dr Fiona McGaughey, who received a University Teaching Excellence Award
  • Kate Offer, announced as one of UWA’s national teaching award nominees 


Welcome to new staff

Joining the new Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab are:

  • Associate Professor Jacqueline Alderson, Tech Director. Jacqueline is a bioengineer and applied machine learning expert. As the Lab’s Tech Director, she provides domain expertise and leadership in championing public interest data stewardship and use, anticipating and resisting the ever-growing appetite of conglomerates and big tech firms in sourcing and leveraging human data. 
  • Kate Dromey, PhD Candidate. Kate’s work explores the increasingly blurred lines between public and private accountability within the tech ecosystem.
  • Tomas Fitzgerald, Research Fellow. As a former in-house counsel at an ASX200 company and current local-government councillor, Tomas brings extensive practical experience with governance and regulatory regimes. His work considers how best to develop coherent, robust, and effective regulatory controls for the tech sector.
  • Helen Stamp, PhD Candidate. Helen researches concepts of control, responsibility, and accountability when it comes to the development and use of autonomous vehicles and autonomous weapons.
  • Elisha Thompson, Lab Administrator. Elisha is an experienced administrator and executive assistant who joined UWA in 2019 after 15 years in the private sector
  • Jason Weber, Research Fellow. Jason is working on the Lab’s flagship projects on data governance and sport.

Law School spotlights

Associate Professors Jacqueline Alderson and Julia Powles
Associate Professor Julia Powles
Associate Professor Julia Powles

Your elevator pitch: who are you and what do you do?

We co-direct the new Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab that will soon take up residence on the ground floor of the Law Link Building. Our aim is to drive law, policy and tech reform to tackle lawlessness in the tech ecosystem and reimagine the data economy. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and we’re committed to cultivating the best culture on campus to empower our team and broad network of collaborators in doing this essential, challenging work. 


What are the key projects you are working on at the moment that would be interesting for everyone to know about?

We kick off with two major projects on data and sport. Who is winning, and who is losing, when it comes to the untrammelled aggregation and use of intimate information on athletes in the sporting arena? One project focuses on professional sport and involves partnering with the Australian Academies of Science and Law on the state of tech in sport and a set of associated policy questions, ranging from athlete protections and one-sided contracts to fair competition and the regulation of ‘technological doping’. The second focuses on the high-performance system and helping shift the Australian Institute of Sport into a best-practice government agency and a global leader when it comes to data governance.

Why is this work important?

Technology companies – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon – are now the most powerful companies on the planet. They are also potent cultural and political forces, shaping and curtailing so much of our collective futures. Future Says_: if we don’t contend with this power, this decade, humanity will be irreversibly short-changed. Future Says_: tackle lawlessness, empower workers, reimagine tech.


Associate Professor Jacqueline Alderson
Associate Professor Jacqueline Alderson

What is the one thing in your workplace you can’t live without?

Jacq: Parking permit, UniClub membership, coffee…
Jules: Bit literal, Jacq – for me it’s our wonderful, smiley colleagues. 
Jacq: [beams broadly] Goes without saying, JP.


If you were a superhero who would you be?

Jacq: Taking on dark and lawless bad actors – you’d definitely be Batman, Julia …
Jules: And you’d be my alter ego Bruce Wayne – the tech guru who saves the day while making me look good! 


What has been the highlight of your time in the Law School? 

Jacq: I joined the Law School only in August, after 18 years in Science. The warm, friendly and genuine welcome I’ve received from every single person I’ve interacted with has been truly heartening. 
Jules: Welcome to the heart of the campus, Jacq!

Tomas Fitzgerald

Tomas FitzgeraldYou are a Research Fellow in the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab.  What is your research background?

I’ve been involved in teaching and research in a variety of areas of law for the last decade, and have published a fairly eclectic mix of work. My black-letter law publications have ranged across international trade, taxation, patents and trademarks. Other publications have looked at women’s representation at the Bar in WA, recent international legislation aimed at ‘body image law’, and the legislative framework around imprisonment for fine default in Western Australia. I was also the editor of the University of Notre Dame Australia Law Review between 2017 and 2019.

More recently, I’ve been finalising my PhD, and have published part chapters on epistemology and law. That work deals with the New Haven School of Jurisprudence – a Cold War-era legal theory that came out of Yale. My thesis considers why the New Haven School has had such a contentious reception, and examines some of the recent criticisms of the theory in light of its recently renewed popularity, particularly in China. 

What are your research interests and priorities?

My main research priority is considering how we can build robust, democratic processes at all levels of the legal system. Often there’s a reticence in legal research to engage with the political issues at stake in law-reform proposals. In one respect, this is understandable and quite appropriate; legal academia should strive to be free of partisan bias. However, we have to take care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, when we deliver cautious, non-partisan analysis we can sometimes lose sight of the need for an unapologetic defence of broader democratic values within law.

This is one of the reasons I was so attracted to the work being undertaken at the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab, which describes itself as ‘alab for law and technology, tuned to politics and power. Pro-public. Collective. Future-making.’

What are your aspirations for the Law School in taking up this appointment?

The Lab has already made some interesting and powerful submissions to departments on the public interest in tech regulation. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue that work and to build the case for a thoroughly democratic approach to regulation of the tech industry. In particular, I’m excited to help build a body of work that makes the Lab and UWA known for high-quality, pro-public research and scholarship in law reform.
Ellen Tetley
Ellen Tetley

You completed your Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) majoring in Law and Society this semester and will begin the JD in 2021.


What have you enjoyed most about your studies at UWA so far?

The independence I have been given. Throughout my Honours year especially, I have learned the value of independent research and critical thinking, as my supervisors have pushed me to expand my horizons and develop new skills. While it was definitely hard work at the time, being challenged academically has ultimately made me a better student and prepared me really well for postgraduate studies.


What advice would you offer a prospective student undertaking a Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) in Law and Society?

Take up every opportunity you are offered. Both the BPhil program and the Law and Society major have allowed me to meet brilliant academics, attend numerous networking opportunities and gain invaluable experience in my field of study. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of university and home life, it is so easy to turn down these opportunities but looking back, I am grateful for each one I decided to undertake and would recommend to other students to do the same, as much as possible.


What are you most looking forward to in undertaking the Juris Doctor (JD) next year?

The challenging and fast-paced nature of the JD coursework. I love what I study, so learning more about the law is always exciting to me. I am also really looking forward to meeting lots of like-minded people in the JD and getting more involved in campus life throughout the year. 

Alumni news

Belinda Teh, LLB, BCom '16

Belinda TehBelinda Teh, LLB, BCom ‘16

Voluntary Assisted Dying advocate, Go Gentle Australia

Belinda was recently nominated for Young Australian of the Year 2021, following her work to ensure better end-of-life choices for all Australians, including the passing of voluntary assisted dying laws. 

She graduated from UWA with a Bachelor of Laws and Commerce in 2016. Eight days after Belinda's final law exam, her mother, Mareia was diagnosed with aggressive terminal breast cancer, and Belinda became a full-time carer at age 23. Upon being told she had weeks left to live, Mareia twice asked for medical assistance to die peacefully, but her requests were refused as there was no such legal option in existence at the time in Australia.

The traumatic circumstances of Mareia’s death motivated Belinda to walk 3500km from Melbourne to Perth last year in support of the WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, catalysing public debate about a dying person’s right to choose. She engaged with local, state and national media to share her mother's story, sparking a groundswell of community support and ultimately influenced some crucial MPs to vote for the bill. Belinda's advocacy saw the successful passage of voluntary assisted dying laws in WA, which will be available to eligible Western Australians from mid-2021. She hopes for a future where there are more compassionate end of life choices for all Australians.

Professional awards
Kevin Edwards AM: 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours List
Professional achievements
  • Ainslie van Onselen, LLB ’95: appointed as the CEO of Chartered accountants Australia and New Zealand earlier this year.
Heading overseas to study

Two recent graduates have commenced postgraduate study at the University of Oxford:

  • Alex Cook (JD 2018) is studying a Master of Science in Law and Finance at Christ Church College.
  • Harry Sanderson (JD 2020) is completing a Master of Studies in Literature at Brasenose College.
Law grad profile Lauren Butterly

Lauren ButterlyDr Lauren Butterly

BA/LLB (1 Hons) (UWA, 2009)
Senior Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office

My interest in the intersection of environmental law and Indigenous rights and governance started when I was at UWA Law. I was able to study units in these areas at UWA, and also undertook a student exchange where I studied the Treaty of Waitangi and comparative environmental law in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

I now work in the Perth office of the Environmental Defenders Office – the largest environmental legal centre in the southern hemisphere. I specialise in Aboriginal cultural heritage laws, legal issues relating to freshwater, and administrative law. Just this year I was also awarded my PhD in Law on Indigenous rights and governance in sea country in the Northern Territory from the University of New South Wales.

The deeper understanding of structural issues that I gained from such rigorous doctoral research has hugely enriched my day-to-day legal practice.

Careers in the Law panel - 10 October 2020

Careers in the Law panel members at event

Current law students were presented with valuable insights from three high-achieving law graduates into what to expect when they enter the workforce. The panel consisted of Catriona McCleod and the following three alumni:

  • Chris Bates, LLB, BCom ’07 
    Chairman at Mason Ledger, one of Western Australia’s fastest-growing full-service commercial law firms. 
  • Mark Borrello, LLB ’06 
    Founding Principal of LSV Borrello Lawyers which, on 1 July 2019, became the foundation Western Australian office of national law firm Thomson Geer.
  • Aaron McDonald, LLB ’07, LLM ’16
    Dispute resolution lawyer at Pragma Lawyers. Co-founded the Subiaco Justice Centre Inc. and sits on the Centre’s Board as Chair.
UWA Law grad in the fight against climate change – Alumni Voices Podcast episode

Jessica PanegyresJessica Panegyres, LLB, BA(Hons) '10, holds first class honours degrees in Law and Arts from UWA, and a master’s degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Oxford where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Jess has since presented on climate change at the UN, featured on the ABC documentary Fight for Planet A, worked for Greenpeace and The Wilderness Society, and currently manages environmental philanthropy at the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN).

Kirsty Brooks, BSc(Hons) '12, chats to Jess about Australia's position on climate change, what led her down this career pathway, and how we can all help.

Listen to this Alumni Voices podcast episode.

Appointments to District Court of WA

Congratulations to the two UWA Law alumni appointed to the District Court of Western Australia:

  • Judge Gary Massey (BJuris '86, LLB '87)
  • Judge Karen Shepherd (BA and LLB '92)
Appointments to Senior Counsel

Congratulations to the four UWA Law alumni appointed as Senior Counsel on Wednesday 25 November, by the Chief Justice of Western Australia, the Hon Justice Peter Quinlan.

  • Mr Graham Droppert (BJuris '81, LLB '82, BA '89)
  • Mr Matthew Curwood (LLB '93)
  • Mr Lindsay Fox (LLB, BA '02)
  • Ms Kim Lendich (LLB '99)
WA Attorney General's Community Service Law Awards for 2020
Independent children's lawyer Julia Johnston (BJuris ’79, LLB ’80) won the Individual Award for her decades of work protecting children in need as a legal counsel and an adviser to non-profit legal services and refuges, including a lifelong association with family services provider Wanslea. She has practised exclusively in the area of family law since 1985 and has been involved in more than 2000 Independent Children’s Lawyers and Separate Representative cases.
2021 Law Society President
Congratulations to Jocelyne Boujos BJuris ('76, LLB '90) for her election to President of the Law Society of WA.