Associate Professor Rita Shackel
BSc LLB GradDipEd MA PhD (Sydney) GradDipLegalPrac (College of Law)
Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)
F10 - Law School (Camperdown)
The University of Sydney
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Papers on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN)
My research program revolves around two broad areas of interest. First, I have a research program broadly focused on the evaluation and reform of legal and social justice processes, particularly, vis-à-vis victims of crime with a specific focus on gender based violence and children’s interaction with the law. My research in this area combines doctrinal analysis in evidence and procedure with interdisciplinary perspectives and research, drawing particularly on psychological theories and empirical findings and methodologies. Secondly, I have a research program in the pedagogy of legal education, legal professionalism and ethics. My research in this area again is interdisciplinary in nature and draws on empirical analysis, methodologies and data.
Rita is a graduate of the University of Sydney holding undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in law, science (pure mathematics), psychology and education. Rita’s academic awards include the Jones Memorial University Medal for most outstanding academic and professional record. Rita has worked as a lawyer, legal policy officer and academic in a range of settings including the NSW Cabinet Office, The NSW Office of Youth Affairs and The Australian Law Reform Commission. She has participated on a number of government, institutional and professional committees and working groups and has delivered professional training and CLE programs to legal practitioners and judicial officers in Australia and overseas. Rita’s PhD thesis examined the use of expert evidence in child sexual assault cases. Rita has worked and published widely in the field of child sexual abuse. She has a particular interest in the dynamics of child sexual assault and how victims and survivors disclose their assaults. Rita is committed to public interest and community work and has worked as a volunteer in community legal centres both in Australia and overseas. In the second half of 2013 Rita will be based at the UNICEF Office of Research as an Innocenti Senior Fellow and will also visit the Faculty of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the USyd-CUHK Faculty Exchange Programme.
- Psychological and expert evidence
- Prosecution of child sexual assault cases
- Victims of crime
- Children and law
- Criminal processes
- International criminal justice
- Gender based violence
- Legal professional responsibility and ethics
- Legal education
Teaching and supervision
- The Legal Profession (S1)
- The Legal Profession
- Child Sexual Abuse - Diverse Perspective
- Academic Mentor & Thought Leader– LawWithOutWalls
- Foundations of Law (graduate & combined)
- Law, Lawyers & Justice
Dr Shackel supervises research students across a broad range of topics related to criminal justice and children’s interaction with the law.
- AusAID Australian Development Research Awards Scheme 2012 Funding Round (with Dr Wendy Lambourne & Dr Lucy Fiske & ActionAid as a partner organisation): Making Transitional Justice Work for Women: Rights, Resilience and Responses to Violence Against Women.
- Faculty of Law Legal Support Scholarship Program December 2012: The Impact on Victims of the Timing of Disclosure of Child Sexual Abuse.
- Faculty of Law Legal Support Scholarship Fund October 2011: Ethical Issues in Research Involving Victims of Crimes.
Dr Shackel is also currently undertaking research into changed perceptions of childhood and the Child’s Right to Play and Recreation pursuant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Admitted Legal Practitioner, NSW Supreme Court
- Member, Specialist Accreditation Children's Law Advisory Committee (1 July 2012 - 30 June 2014)
- Member Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
- Member TEQSA Register of Experts 2013 in Criminal Law, Legal Practice, Law n.e.c., Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Curriculum Development & Design
- Academic Member, Bar Association Professional Conduct Committee #2
- Member, Committee on Legal Ethics and Regulation Education Around the Globe
- Critical Friend to the Safe Families Program, Aboriginal Affairs NSW (June 2011-June 2012)
Awards and honours
- National Reporter on The Rights of The Child for the International Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law (Vienna, 2014)
- Associate, Sydney Centre for International Law, The University of Sydney
- Book Review Editor, Current Issues in Criminal Justice (2011-)
In the media
- Interviewed by ABC Radio (Adelaide) Mornings with Stan Thomson: Royal Commission into child abuse - how will it work? (20 November 2012)
- Interviewed by Radio Atticus on Radio 2SER: DNA Evidence in Criminal Trials (16 April 2010)
Conference papers and seminar presentations
- F. Bell, R. Shackel & L. Steele, ‘The Books Don’t Talk to Me!: Postgraduate Student Groups and Research Student Identity Formation.’ HERDSA 2013, 1-4 July 2013, Auckland, New Zealand.
- R. Shackel, 'The Ethics of Research Involving Victims of Crime'. Paper to be presented at the 33rd International Congress on Law and Mental Health, 14-19 July 2013, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- Workshop participant, Centre for Global Development, Leeds and Transformative Justice Network, ‘Transforming Women’s Lives: Devising Gender-Responsive Approaches to Transitional Justice in the African Context’, Leeds, 12 September 2013.
- R. Shackel, ‘Navigating E-Spaces in Legal Education.’ Legal Education Conference, 50th Anniversary CUHK, Hong Kong, 26 October 2013 [Invited Speaker].
- R. Shackel, 'The dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse and Assessing Credibility'. Invited speaker to Family Consultants, Family Court of Australia, 20 March 2013.
- R. Shackel, ''Understanding the dynamics of child sexual assault and implications for prosecution', NSW DPP Solicitor's Conference, Sydney, 20 December 2012 [Invited Speaker].
- R. Shackel, 'Disclosure of Child Sexual Abuse by Children.' Invited speaker, Family Court of Australia and Federal Magistrates Court Concurrent Conference, Hobart, 12 October 2012 (Invited speaker).
- R. Shackel, ‘Ethics for Government Lawyers’, Government Solicitors Conference, Sydney, 28 August 2012 (Invited Speaker).
- R. Shackel, ‘Child Sexual Abuse: Perspectives from Recent Research’, Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians, 2012 Professor C.C. de Silva Memorial Oration, Colombo Sri Lanka, 11 August 2012 (By invitation - awarded Oration Medal).
- R. Shackel, ‘Child Sexual Abuse – The Psychological Dimensions’. Annual Academic Sessions of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians, Colombo Sri Lanka, 11-12 August 2012 (By invitation).
- R. Shackel, ‘The Need for Multidisciplinary Understandings in Forensic Responses to Sexual Assault’, 2012 Medico-Legal Society of Sri Lanka Oration, Colombo Sri Lanka 10 August 2012 (By invitation - awarded Oration Medal).
- R. Shackel, 'Legal Education and Regulation Education Around the Globe: Round Table', International Legal Ethics Conference V, Banff Alberta, 12-14 July 2012.
- R. Shackel, Law Without Walls Panel - 'Technology and Social Media', International Legal Ethics Conference V, Banff Alberta, 12-14 July 2012.
- L. Steele, R. Shackel, F. Bell, 'A Comparative Analysis of Networking and Discussion Groups as a Strategy for Postgraduate Research Learning', ALTA 2012, The University of Sydney 1-4 July 2012.
- R. Shackel, Academic Mentor Address - 'Alternative Courts on the Brain: Psychologically Based, But are they Sound?', Law Without Walls Composium, Miami USA, 14-16 April 2012
- R. Shackel, ‘Understanding the Basis for Overturning Convictions in Child Sexual Assault Cases.’ 32nd Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Berlin, 17-23 July 2011.
- R.Shackel, 'Child Sexual Abuse: A Cloak of Secrecy.' Invited presentation NSW Aboriginal Affairs, Sydney, 7 July 2011.
- R. Shackel, ‘Preliminary findings of a qualitative study on the needs of victims of crime in Australia.’ Australian Institute of Criminology, Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime, Sydney, 18-19 May 2011.
- R. Shackel, ‘Guilty or Not-Guilty: Lab Rats in the Courtroom.’ Degree in a Day Sessions, University of Sydney, September 2010.
- R. Shackel, Prosecuting Child Sexual Assault Cases: An Empirical Study of the Use of Evidence, Sydney Evidence Conference, Sydney School of Law, 25 September 2010.
- R. Shackel, ‘Child Sexual Abuse – Legal & Therapeutic Dimensions’, Australian Society Sex Educators Researchers and Therapists (ASSERT) Conference, University of Sydney, 30-31 October.
- R. Shackel, ‘The Role of Forensic Opinion and Evaluation of Victim Impact Statements in Child Sexual Assault Cases’, RANZCP Section of Forensic Psychiatry - An International Conference, Prato, Italy, 12-15 October 2010.
- R. Shackel, ‘Emerging Issues in Prosecution of Child Sexual Assault Cases’, Sydney Evidence Conference, 24-25 September 2010, The University of Sydney.
- R. Shackel, ‘Child Sexual Abuse: Changing Lenses’, Sex Researchers Team, 28 September 2010, The University of Sydney.
Selected Previous Presentations
- R. Shackel and A. Loughnan, ‘The PhD Experience in Law: Starting a Conversation’, Sydney Law School Lunchtime Seminar Series, Sydney, 29 April 2010.
- R. Shackel (with B. Smith), ‘Teaching Case Analysis Skills – an Electronic Tool to the Rescue?’ Paper presented at ALTA Conference ’The Doctor as God, The Corporation as Queen, What about the Country?’, Sydney, 5-8 July 2009.
- R. Shackel, ‘Child Victim Responses To Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse.’ Paper presented at the 8th Annual Conference of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services, July 14-16, 2008, Vienna, Austria.
- R. Shackel, ‘Urban Living, Changing Perceptions of Childhood and New Barriers to Children’s Play.’ Paper presented at the IPA/USA Triennial Conference: Children’s Play: Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future, Baltimore MD, April 2004.
- R. Shackel, ‘The Use of Expert Evidence in the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse Cases.’ Paper presented at the AAUW Chapel Hill 80th Anniversary Symposium, Chapel Hill NC, April 2003.
- R. Shackel, ‘A Comparative Study of the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse Cases in Australia and the United States.’ AAUW-NC State Convention, Raleigh NC, April 2003.
- R. Shackel, ‘The Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse Cases in the United States.’ Paper presented at the AAUW Chapel Hill Local Branch Forum, Chapel Hill NC, January 2003.
- R. Shackel, ‘Women, Children and Gender Equity.’ Plenary paper presented at the AAUW International Symposium: Global Voices for Gender Equity, Washington DC, November 2002.
- R. Shackel, ‘The Use of Expert Evidence Relating to the Behaviour of Children who have been Sexually Abused.’ Paper presented at Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, October 2002.
- R. Shackel, ‘The Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome does it have a Forensic Role?’ Paper presented at the 25th International Congress on Law and Mental Health, Siena, 12-15 July 2000.
- R. Woellner, J. Zetler & R. Shackel, ‘Educational Malpractice: Some Recent Australian Developments.’ Paper presented at the ANZELA Conference, Sydney, June 1997.
Selected Professional Seminars and Other Workshops
- R. Shackel, ‘Child Sexual Abuse: Best Practice & Future Directions’ delivered workshop to Forensic Medicine Fellows, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, Colombo Sri Lanka, 13 August 2012.
- R. Shackel, ‘Developing Guidelines for Interviewing Child Victims’, Sri Lanka Ministry of Justice, Colombo Sri Lanka, 9 August 2012 (By invitation).
- A. Loughnan & R. Shackel, ‘Surviving the PhD.’ Plenary paper presented at the Postgraduate Conference, Faculty of Law, The University of Sydney, 31 October 2008.
- J. Cashmore & R. Shackel, ‘Children and the Law.’ Invited presenters at Sydney University Law Society Public Forum, 27 August 2008.
- R. Shackel, ‘The New Anti-Discrimination Regulation.’ College of Law: Continuing Legal Education Program, Tattersalls Club, Sydney, 31 October 2001.
- R. Shackel, ‘Discrimination in the Legal Profession.’ College of Law: Continuing Legal Education Program, Tattersalls Club, Sydney, 5 December 2001.
- R. Shackel, ‘The Dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse: Perceptions in the Criminal Justice System.’ Health Law Postgraduate Thesis Candidates’ Workshop, University of Sydney, 22 June 2001.
- The impact of delayed reporting on the prosecution of child sexual assault cases and the outcomes; Cashmore J, Shackel R, Parkinson P; Attorney Generals Department/Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
- Making Transitional Justice Work for Women: Rights, Resilience and Responses to Violence Against Women in Northern Uganda, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo; Lambourne W, Shackel R; Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID)/Australian Development Research Awards.
- Measuring Access to Justice - A Comparative Study; Shackel R; Tilburg University/Research Support.
- Understanding prosecutorial decision-making in child sexual assault cases; Shackel R; Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales/Donation.
- Not known; Shackel R; University of Sydney/Career Development Awards.