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Law a university for the real world

Australian Centre for Health Law Research

Shaping law, policy and practice

We are a group of transdisciplinary researchers who conduct innovative research at the intersection of law, health, ethics, and policy. We aim to generate new knowledge to inform reforms to law, policy and practice.

Our research has had significant impact: our recommendations have been adopted by parliaments, courts and tribunals, and law reform commissions. Our work has also influenced state and national policy, prompting changes to clinical education in universities, hospitals and health departments.

We have been awarded significant competitive grants, awards and contracts to conduct research and training.

Our centre directors are Associate Professor Tina Cockburn and Associate Professor Fiona McDonald.

Research expertise

End of life

Challenging legal issues must be addressed at the end of life to ensure that people can die as well as possible.

Our research explores legal, ethical and policy issues in death and dying, including:

  • withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment
  • provision of futile treatment at the end of life
  • advance care planning
  • palliative care
  • euthanasia and assisted dying
  • coronial systems and regulation
  • organ and tissue donation.

Theme leaders: Professor Ben White & Professor Lindy Willmott

Health, society and regulation

Law has an impact on individuals and populations when they seek health care. We study the social, regulatory, and ethical challenges associated with the regulation of health care.

Our research interests include:

  • children’s health and the beginning of life
  • consent and decision making, including substitute and supported decision making
  • guardianship
  • mental health law
  • public health - for example, tobacco plain packaging
  • compensation and civil liability
  • disability and discrimination law
  • health professional regulation and system governance
  • information privacy.

Theme leader: Dr Shih-Ning Then

Ageing and aged care

Ageing populations internationally raise pressing legal, health, social and policy issues. Our researchers are investigating ways to address these issues.

Our work focuses on:

  • elder abuse
  • capacity assessment
  • decision making
  • housing and care
  • future planning including wills, enduring powers of attorney and advance health directives
  • cognitive impairment including dementia
  • human rights and ageing
  • ageism.

Theme leaders: Dr Kelly Purser and Associate Professor Tina Cockburn

Technology, innovation and health

Our researchers are investigating the social, legal and regulatory implications of technology and innovation in health care. We are leading debates on the role of law in regulating emerging and disruptive technologies, with a focus on:

  • regulation of new innovative medical technologies
  • privacy and health data
  • genomics and proteomics
  • gene patenting
  • artificial intelligence and robotics
  • assistive technology
  • bio-printing.

Theme leader: Professor Belinda Bennett

Research with us

We welcome engagement with government, industry, hospitals and health care providers, health professionals, non-governmental agencies, and community and patient groups, as well as other researchers across many disciplines.

Study with us

We're looking for higher degree research students in many health law topics. We offer a vibrant research culture and strong focus on collaborative, multidisciplinary projects.

Our researchers

We are internationally renowned for our studies in health law, ethics, technology, governance and public policy. Our members have published in leading journals and presented at conferences nationally and internationally. We collaborate with other researchers from a variety of disciplines and have been awarded significant research and training grants, awards and contracts.

Our publications

Access our researchers' books and articles on a range of health law topics.

Real-world impact

The work of Professors Ben White and Lindy Willmott has influenced end-of-life law.

Public lectures online

Hear from health law experts via our YouTube channel.

Connect with us

11 Jun 2019

'The Three Partnerships' Public Lecture - Presented by Mark Pesce

Join us for a thought-provoking lecture with leading futurist, author, entrepreneur and innovator, Mark Pesce. Mark has been at the forefront of the digital revolution for thirty-five years, bringing clarity, understanding and insight.

15 May 2019

ACHLR / HEAL Public Lecture - Capacity, Supported and Substitute Decision-Making

Since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the concept and practice of supported decision-making, as opposed to substituted decision-making, has been extensively discussed. How does supported decision-making fit into our current legal system of substitute decision-making and what role does ‘capacity’ play?