Cathy van Extel and Professor Heather Douglas in conversation at the Sir Harry Gibbs Law Dinner 2018.

Cathy van Extel (left) of ABC Radio National and Professor Heather Douglas, TC Beirne School of Law, in conversation at the Sir Harry Gibbs Law Dinner 2018.

“Domestic Violence and the Law” — Sir Harry Gibbs Law Dinner 2018

9 October, 2018

Emmanuel College’s twelfth annual Sir Harry Gibbs Law Dinner — named in honour of eminent alumnus Sir Harry Gibbs, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1981 to 1987 — was held on Thursday 30 August 2018. This year’s guest speaker was Professor Heather Douglas, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland, and researcher in domestic and family violence.

The topic, “Domestic Violence and the Law: Achievements and Future Directions”, was delivered as an engaging on-stage discussion between Professor Douglas and ABC Radio National journalist Cathy van Extel. Recorded live, the conversation will reach a wider audience through the Big Ideas program (airing 10 October at 8pm).

Professor Douglas shared notable achievements in improved legal responses to domestic violence, as well as emerging issues and challenges. The discussion drew on her research, including interviews with women of diverse backgrounds who had engaged with the legal system in response to domestic violence. The extent of the issue, the harm caused and the gendered nature of domestic violence were evident in the women’s experiences she shared. The manner in which the Australian legal system deals with domestic violence cases continues to evolve, and Professor Douglas’s research is contributing to positive change in this area of criminal law.

The dinner was hosted by Emmanuel College Principal Dr Jane Thomson and attended by members of the legal community, faculty members of UQ’s TC Beirne School of Law, Emmanuel College law students and student leaders. Special guests included Vanessa Fowler from the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation and all five Sir Harry Gibbs Law Scholars: Simon LaBlack (EMC 2010-16), Anthony Kung (EMC 2012), Crispin Scott (EMC 2012-15), Susanna Connolly (EMC 2016-17) and current recipient Sam Skinner.

In his thank you address to guests, Sam Skinner stressed how important it is “for us to reflect on systemic issues, such as the use of the legal system or new technology to continue abuse”. Sam also noted that, while it is “reassuring to hear of the advances made in the law to address domestic violence, it is evident that the law and society still have a way to come to fully address this issue”.

Listen to the conversation on Big Ideas.

Read the Emmanuel Paper by Professor Heather Douglas.