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Law, Justice and Social Change examines the ways in which law can be seen and used as both an instrument of positive social change and yet also as a means of confirming existing social arrangements and resisting social change. Through a series of case studies, it critically reflects on the key goals of law reform (such as access to justice and equality) and different ways of understanding what constitutes a just outcome. It looks at a selection of issues such as gender politics, ethnicity, race, disability, indigenous politics, class and economic struggles and sexual orientation and social dissent. There is also a strong practical component to the subject - students learn about the law reform process and choose a current law reform issue to consider in light of the issues discussed in the subject and interview a staff member from a community legal centre or government body involved in writing a report or submission that advocates for legal change. These organisations have in the past included the Human Rights Law Centre, Youthlaw, Victorian Council of Social Services, YACVic, Liberty Victoria, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, JobWatch, Berry Street, the Federation of Community Legal Centres. the Mental Health Legal Centre, amongst others.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- Be able to examine the ways in which law can be seen as both an instrument of positive social change and yet also a means of confirming existing social arrangements and resisting social change;
- Be able to explore theoretical perspectives on law, justice and the community;
- Critically analyse a series of case studies concerning the struggles for access to justice and involvement in legal processes and institutions by particular groups and individuals;
- Consider a selection of issues such as gender politics, ethnicity, race, indigenous politics, sexual orientation, class and economic struggles, social dissent and the experience of non-English speaking background individuals;
- Work productively in groups.
Last updated: 26 May 2022