Fiona Allison

    Fiona Allison

    PhD student

    Cairns

     

    Biographical outline

    When Fiona, a lawyer, was working at the Australian Human Rights Commission she was acutely aware of the few Indigenous people who came forward to lodge complaints. Later when working in Indigenous communities she saw that discrimination is a hugely important issue in these communities with significant and negative impacts.

    Research topic

    Indigenous Australian’s access to racial discrimination law

    Research outline

    I see access to justice generally as a human right, including access to domestic human rights legislation; and I have seen how discrimination is part of the broader social oppression and disempowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    My research seeks to explore to what extent Aboriginal people have been able to access justice in response to racial discrimination through appropriate laws; and to consider what these laws have achieved, in reality, for this particular group in terms of increased equality.

    I hope to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a voice about how best to respond to discrimination in and outside of the law, as legislative measures are likely to be only a small part of effective responses

    Research questions

    • To what extent was racial discrimination law developed in order to reduce racial inequality and racial discrimination suffered by Indigenous Australians, in particular?
    • What did Indigenous people anticipate or hope that racial discrimination law would achieve for them at the time of enactment?
    • What has racial discrimination law ultimately achieved for Indigenous people, in terms of addressing racial inequality and race discrimination?
    • What is the nature of Indigenous experiences of racial discrimination in contemporary Australia?
    • If racial discrimination is still a serious issue for Indigenous Australians:
      • Has racial discrimination law failed Indigenous people in not reducing discrimination?
      • Might this failing be attributable in part to problems of Indigenous access to justice in this area?
      • To what extent are Indigenous people accessing the law in response to racial discrimination?
      • What is effective access to justice and why is Indigenous access to justice important in this area of law?
    • If levels of Indigenous access to racial justice through racial discrimination law are low, what administrative and legislative barriers inhibit access?
    • What strategies and recommendations might be proposed to address any identified barriers?

    Supervisory team

    Professor Chris Cunneen (JCU/UNSW)

    Professor Simon Rice (ANU)

    Research outputs

    • The research will suggest initiatives and policy changes that might be implemented to improve responses for Indigenous people to racial discrimination.
    • Publications (listed below) are from the Indigenous Legal Needs Project and deal with access to justice in relation to racial discrimination, amongst other areas of civil and family law and my current research.

    Conference papers

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., & Schwartz, M. (2012). The civil and family law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia: The indigenous legal needs project. Paper presented at the 2012 National Community Legal Centres Conference, Adelaide, SA.

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., & Schwartz, M. (2013). The civil and family law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people II. Paper presented at the National Community Legal Centres’ Conference, Cairns, QLD.

    Indigenous Legal Needs Project. (2015). The civil and family law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia: The Indigenous legal needs project. Paper presented at the Financial Counselling Australia Conference, Canberra, ACT, 20 May 2015.

    Indigenous Legal Needs Project. (2015). The civil and family law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia: The indigenous legal needs project. Paper presented at the Legal Aid Summer Series, Perth, WA.

    Indigenous Legal Needs Project. (2015). The civil and family law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia: The indigenous legal needs project. Paper presented at the Victorian Federation of Community Legal Centres Indigenous Legal Needs forum, Melbourne, VIC.

    Indigenous Legal Needs Project. (2012). The Indigenous legal needs project. Paper presented at the ANZ Critical Criminology Conference, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS.

    Publications

    Allison, F. (2014). A limited right to equality: Evaluating the effectiveness of racial discrimination law for Indigenous Australians through an access to justice lens. Australian Indigenous Law Review, 17(2), 3-25.

    Allison, F., & Cunneen, C. (2013). Indigenous justice agreements. Current Initiatives Paper, 4, 1-8.

    Allison, F., & Cunneen, C. (2010). The role of Indigenous Justice Agreements in improving legal and social outcomes for Indigenous people. Sydney Law Review, 32(4), 645-669.

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., Loban, H., Luke, G., & Munro, K. (2011). Sentencing and punishment in the Indigenous Justices of the Peace Courts. Australian Indigenous Law Review, 16(1), 15-36.

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., & Schwartz, M. (2013). That's discrimination! Indigenous peoples' experiences of discrimination in the Northern Territory. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 8(5).

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., Schwartz, M., & Behrendt, L. (2012). Indigenous legal needs project: Northern Territory report.  Cairns: James Cook University.

    Crock, M., Kenny, M. A., & Allison, F. (2008). Children and immigration and citizenship law. In G. Monahan & L. Young (Eds.), Children and the law in Australia (pp. 238-253). Chatswood, NSW: LexisNexis Butterworths.

    Cunneen, C., Allison, F., & Schwartz, M. (2014). Access to justice for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The Australian Journal of Social Issues, 49(2), 219-240.

    Cunneen, C., Allison, F., & Schwartz, M. (2014). The civil and family law needs of Indigenous people in Queensland. Cairns: The Cairns Institute, James Cook University.

    Reports

    Allison, F. (2016). Justice reinvestment in Katherine: Report on initial community consultations. Cairns: James Cook University.

    Allison, F., & Cunneen, C. (2008). Indigenous justice strategies - Analysis and findings on current policy framework: Report to the Indigenous Law and Justice Branch, Commonwealth Attorney-Generals. [Unpublished report].

    Allison, F., & Cunneen, C. (2009). Indigenous Bail Diversion: Program Options for Indigenous Offenders in Victoria, Department of Justice (Koori Unit) VIC. Sydney: University of New South Wales.

    Allison, F., & Cunneen, C. (2012). National caseload comparison for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services. [Unpublished report].

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., Loban, H., Luke, G., & Munro, K. (2010). Evaluation of the Remote JP Magistrates Court Program: Final Report, Department of Justice and Attorney General (Qld). [Unpublished report]

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., & Schwartz, M. (2015). Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Access to Legal Assistance Services.

    Allison, F., Cunneen, C., Schwartz, M., & Behrendt, L. (2012). Indigenous legal needs project: NT report. Cairns: James Cook University.

    Allison, F., Schwartz, M., & Cunneen, C. (2014). Indigenous legal needs project: WA report. Cairns: Cairns Institute, James Cook University.

    Cunneen, C., Allison, F., & Schwartz, M. (2014). The civil and family law needs of Indigenous people in Queensland. Cairns: James Cook University.

    Indigenous Legal Needs Project. (2013). Submission to Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Access to Justice Arrangements.

    Schwartz, M., Allison, F., & Cunneen, C. (2013). The civil and family law needs of indigenous people in Victoria. Cairns: James Cook University.

    Video

    This animated video explaining justice reinvestment (JR), was produced in conjunction with Amnesty International and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA). The film aims to improve engagement of Indigenous communities with JR to reduce incarceration of young Aboriginal people. 

    Allison, F. (2016). What is justice reinvestment? [video].

    Teaching experience

    • JCU, Cairns: Taught human rights and law-related subjects to PNG Correctional and other Department of Justice Staff , 2014
    • Tranby Aboriginal College, Sydney: Taught law subjects to adult Indigenous students of the National Indigenous Legal Advocacy (NILA) program, 2004-2007.

    Extended Profile

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