Social Justice

Social Justice at the School of Law

If you are passionate about social justice, the University of Notre Dame Australia School of Law offers many exciting opportunities for you to follow your passion.

The School of Law, Fremantle campus, has made social justice a key focus of the School. A number of initiatives give students the opportunity to develop their legal knowledge and skills in areas of social justice.

  • Law students at the appropriate stage in their course structure are able to take elective units in social-justice focused areas such as: Human Rights Law, Law and War, Mental Health Law, Indigenous Law and Refugee Law.
  • There are also experience-based units available with Fremantle law students completing the compulsory community service component that is part of the Ethics and the Law unit early in their degree. Students are encouraged to view Law as a profession which has a responsibility to provide service to others.
  • The elective unit Law in Context allows a number of upper-year students to gain experience working with a social-justice-focused legal organisation while receiving credit towards their degree. As part of this unit, students volunteer on a weekly basis at a Community Legal Centre which provides legal services to those who would otherwise be unlikely to have access to legal advice.
  • In Summer Term 2017, the School offered Law in Context as an immersion program in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Students visited the United Nations' Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia as well as non-government organisations (NGOs) which engage with issues of human rights and the provision of legal services to disadvantaged groups in Cambodia.
  • The University 'pop up' Legal Clinic is based at the School of Law, Fremantle Campus. Beginning in 2016, the Clinic aims to provide initial legal advice to those who do not have the financial resources for representation, but who do not qualify for assistance from other legal advice agencies. Students are able to assist the experienced lawyers – currently alumni and practitioner members of academic staff – who volunteer their time to provide this valuable service to the community.
  • In 2016, the School sponsored the 'Social Justice Opportunities Evening' run by the Young Lawyers Committee of the Law Society of Western Australia.

The School of Law, Sydney campus also has a commitment to ensuring their graduates have a thorough engagement with issues of social justice.

  • Law students at the appropriate stage in their course structure are able to take elective units in social-justice focused areas such as: Bioethics and the Law, Human Rights Law, Mental Health Law and Law and Religion.
  • In line with Notre Dame's objects of producing ethical, "profession ready" graduates, law students at the appropriate stage in their course structure may also participate in the elective unit Law in Context. Students gain credit for their degree while they work, in an unpaid capacity, with experienced legal professionals. Students are particularly encouraged to volunteer with lawyers who work in NGOs, charitable or religious organisations or may work with law firms, in-house legal teams or barristers with a social-justice focus.
  • The School also hosts an annual Religious Liberty Lecture, which, in 2016 was incorporated into the inaugural Religious Liberty Conference.
  • The School's weekly newsletter, The Jury's In, often features opportunities to gain experience in the social justice field.

Student immersion program in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Enrolment in experience-based electives on both campuses is subject to conditions and is only with approval from the unit coordinator. Participation in the unit may also be subject to availability and approval from an approved host organisation. Students should speak to the Law School Administration as to the application process for particular units.

Student Clubs

The students at both campuses of the Notre Dame Law School have shown a commitment to social justice. Both the 'Notre Dame Sydney Law Students' (NDSLS) and "Notre Dame Law Students Society" (NDLSS) on the Fremantle Campus have Social Justice Representatives who are responsible for organising events and communicating news about social justice opportunities to the law student communities.

The NDSLS is proactive in organising guest speakers on campus, including Australia's former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM, the Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs and human rights campaigner Father Frank Brennan.

In 2016, NDLSS on the Fremantle Campus held the inaugural Red Cross International Humanitarian Moot. The final was judged by The Hon. Kevin Parker AC and Mr Greg McIntyre QC. Judge Parker is a former WA Supreme Court Justice and former Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. Mr McIntyre, an Adjunct Professor at the Fremantle Campus, is well known for his advocacy of social justice issues such as Native Title and Immigration law in the Federal and High Courts of Australia.

The Social Justice Representative information and events can be found at the following websites: