As the world changes, so too do our perceptions, attitudes and legal frameworks around health law, policy, ethics and regulation.
The Australian Centre for Health Law Research (ACHLR) conducts research that improves health outcomes for patients and their families, as well as benefiting health professionals and systems.
Our legal research experts bring their knowledge and deep understanding of the law to work alongside our public health leaders.
Their expertise helps us to understand and interpret a changing public health landscape, including health law, policy, technological advances, systems thinking and population health.
Our research students are our agents of change, and the centre welcomes high-achieving early career researchers and research students into their community.
Research students bring contemporary and creative approaches to new and emerging fields of health law research, contributing to our evolving perspective and growing knowledge base.
Areas of focus
As baby boomers age and advances in technology allow us to prolong life, legal and ethical issues in death, dying and decision-making become increasingly important. Researchers at ACHLR are exploring end-of-life issues like: withholding and withdrawing treatment; euthanasia; advance care planning; palliative care; and coronial systems.
Children’s health and the beginning of life
Children’s health and welfare and the emergence of technologies at the beginning of human life raise significant societal issues. Our researchers are investigating issues around: child abuse and cultural violence; conception, pregnancy and birth, including assisted reproduction, surrogacy and abortion; gender dysphoria; and embryonic stem cell research.
Governance and regulation
Effective governance and regulation of health care is critical to the delivery of quality health services and systems, and improving health outcomes. Our researchers are contributing to understanding of: negligence and patient safety; organisational ethics; work health and safety regulation; 3D printing, privacy and health data; and the regulation of emerging technologies.
Impacts and outcomes
Influencing law reform
The Queensland Law Reform Commission’s review of Queensland’s guardianship laws drew extensively on our research in formulating reform recommendations to address problems and inconsistencies in end-of-life law in Queensland.
We’ve also influenced law reform in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and at a federal level.
Mandatory reporting laws
Our researchers conducted a national 10 year data study, which became a key driver behind the enactment of the Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting - Mason’s Law) Amendment Bill 2016. This reform was enacted to require practitioners who work in early childhood education and care sectors to report suspected cases of significant harm to children caused by physical abuse and sexual abuse.
Setting the standard for health initiatives
Our researchers are conducting a systematic evaluation of how international health initiatives are designed and developed, and evaluating their efficacy in the short and long term.
By advancing our understanding of what makes a health initiative a political and economic success, we can improve the outcomes of future health programs and new initiatives.