Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Sam Boyle
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law
Associate Professor Tina Cockburn
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law
Adjunct Professor Anne-Maree Kelly
Adjunct Professor
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law
Dr Jodhi Rutherford
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law


The recent inquests of Nelson (Victoria) and Trotta (South Australia) - both findings currently pending - have raised serious concerns about access to appropriate healthcare and quality of care for persons in custody. States have ethical and legal responsibilities towards those in custody, but doubts have been raised about if, and how, these responsibilities might be met.

Research activities

Research activities include:

  1. Identification and interpretation of relevant common law negligence principles and civil liability legislation.
  2. Consideration of ethical principles that apply to delivery of health services to person in custody.
  3. Searches of coronial decisions for deaths in custody from 2012- and their findings related to the provision of healthcare.
  4. Searches of relevant resources for articles/cases that relate to provision of health services in custodial settings.

Research questions

  1. What legal and ethical issues regarding healthcare in custody have been raised by coronial cases in Australia in the last 10 years?
  2. What ethical principles apply to the provision of healthcare in custody?
  3. What is the nature and extent of the duty of care owed to persons in custody in the various Australian civil jurisdictions?
  4. What recommendations might be made to improve healthcare for persons in custody?


The outputs may include:

  1. Summary of relevant coronial cases and their recommendations as they relate to delivery of health services (approx. 1000 words).
  2. A report of the research including ethical principles, summary of coronial and case findings and recommendations for improving delivery of health services in Australian custodial settings. (approx. 3000 words plus a 750-word summary). The report will be in a format that may be suitable for publication in a journal. Note there will be some overlap between output 1 and output 2.
  3. A short presentation at the end of the program.

Skills and experience

You must have:

  • a strong academic record, particularly in research-focussed assessments
  • an interest broadly in justice, and
  • an interest specifically in how legal rules might be used to protect vulnerable people.



Contact the supervisor for more information.