Research Grants

ARC Grants

 
Project title: Legal and Ethical Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza
Researchers: Bennett, B & Carney, T
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2009-December 2011
Funding: $430,000
Project Summary: Over 40 million people in the world died in the 1918 Influenza pandemic. Any repetition could have devastating social and economic costs for Australia and the Region. Community confidence in quarantine or other restrictions in the medical management of pandemics depends on balancing protection of public health against the rights of citizens to go about their work and daily lives. By studying the adequacy of existing human pandemic influenza planning in Australia and the Asian region, this project will contribute to law reform and policy development needed to command community confidence in the ethical and public policy balances embodied in national pandemic plans, and the laws and practices which support them.
   
Project title: Juror confidence in justice: democratic participation or deference to authority?
Researchers: Tait, D, Parker, S, Carney, T & Goodman-Delahunty, J
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2009-December 2011
Funding: $245,000
Project summary: Australia will be better protected from terrorism and crime if its justice system has the confidence of its citizens.  Currently it does not. Without such confidence, justice offers neither a credible deterrent nor a protector of rights. Courts are typically designed and run using a hierarchical model of authority, while new therapeutic and restorative approaches make justice processes more democratic.  There is little evidence of how either of these impacts on justice for participants. Understanding the process by which people develop trust during one critical adjudicative process, the jury trial, will allow juries, and other forms of lay decision making in judicial processes, to be used more effectively in the justice system.
   
Project title: The Legal Function of Serious Disability in Prenatal and Neonatal Health Care Settings
Researchers: Savell, K & Karpin, I
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2009 - December 2011
Funding: $229,000
Project summary: Increasing numbers of Australians are using prenatal testing technologies to avoid having a disabled child. Australians also have access to a range of sophisticated life-sustaining technologies for premature newborns and seriously imperiled infants. Legal guidance on the appropriate uses of these technologies is piecemeal and inconsistent across Australia's States and Territories, and the meaning of serious disability varies amongst members of the community. This project will benefit Australians by providing greater consistency in decision-making about disability. This will be achieved by assessing the value of a uniform framework for governing legal responses to serious disability in the context of reproduction.
   
Project title: Gateways to Justice: Improving video-mediated communications for justice participants
Researchers: Tait, D, Carney, T, Goodman-Delahunty, J, Lennard, C, Brawn, G, Battye, G, Blackman, D, Wallace, A, Robertson, J, Jones, D, Auty, K, Missingham, G & Refshauge, R
Grant type: ARC Linkage
Duration: July 2007-June 2010
Funding: $295,603
Project summary: Justice hearings are increasingly likely to employ video communication facilities to provide access for remote participants. This project brings together a critical mass of researchers from seven disciplines together with courts, prosecutors, police and technology companies to develop best practice guidelines for introducing new video technologies. The project tests the impact of technological change on participants' sense of presence and the effectiveness of communication; tests the impact of social and environmental changes; and their combined effects. Real courtroom environments are modified, based on results of the experiments, and impacts of the changes on users are measured and analysed.
   
Project title: Gender Inequities in Health Research: Towards a New Regulatory Framework
Researchers: Bennett, B, Rogers, W & Karpin, I
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2006-December 2008
Funding: $300,000
Project summary: This project will benefit Australian women by identifying better and fairer ways for the legal system to ensure that health research performed in Australia provides meaningful information about the significance of new health treatments for Australian women. The research undertaken in this project will make recommendations for the development of Australian laws and policies that will promote and maintain good health by encouraging equal participation of men and women in health research and analysis by gender of research results. This is particularly important given the ageing of the Australian population and the greater longevity of women compared to men.
   
Project title: Lifestyle Wars: Law's role in responding to the challenges of non-communicable diseases
Researchers: Magnusson, R 
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2006-December 2008
Funding: $156,000
Project summary: In economic, social and personal terms, non communicable diseases impose a massive health burden upon Australian society. Law is a potent tool that could influence the economic, environmental and social structures, as well as the personal choices, that generate poor health outcomes. Very little work has been carried out on law's relationship with non communicable diseases, either in Australia or internationally. By exploring and promoting the contribution that public health law can make to health policy on non communicable diseases, this project will contribute to the promotion and maintenance of good health in Australia.
   
Project title: Mental Health Tribunals: Balancing fairness, freedom, protection and right to treatment?
Researchers: Carney, T, Tait, D, Chappell, D & Coumarelos, C
Grant type: ARC Linkage
Duration: January 2005-December 2007
Funding: $285,000
Project summary: In determining treatment options for mentally ill people, mental health tribunals must balance the person's right to treatment with rights to safety, justice and freedom from coercion. Much studied overseas, Australia lacks information about the 'fairness' of hearings. Applying popular 'therapeutic jurisprudence' literature, this project studies the impacts of hearings in three diverse Australian jurisdictions (NSW, Vic & ACT). It uses field observations, interviews and file reviews to isolate best practice reforms. Broader than overseas work, it assesses the actual and perceived fairness of hearings, and the therapeutic outcomes for patients. As in Britain, the project will inform legislative reform and tribunal practices.
   
Project title: Globalisation and Biomedicine: Harmonisation of local and global regulatory demands
Researchers: Rothwell, D R & Bennett, B
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2004-December 2005
Funding: $120,000
Project summary: The pursuit of biotechnological research and development requires a clear and effective regulatory structure at both the global and national level. Australia's strengths in biotechnology and biomedicine and the Federal Government's strategy to support and promote Australian expertise demand the formulation of appropriate regulatory structures. This project will assess these issues with a focus on globalisation, Australia's federal legal system, the patient in society and health law, and the scope of effective legal regulation. The project will provide insights into and a theoretical understanding of existing global and national legal regulation of this sector as well as assisting in the formulation of future regulatory measures.
   
Project title: Involuntary treatment of severely ill anorexia nervosa patients: A role for law in therapy?
Researchers: Carney, T, Beumont, P, Touyz, S & Tait, D
Grant type: ARC Discovery
Duration: January 2001-December 2003
Funding: $142,381
Project summary: Balancing individual autonomy against ethical duties to save life vexes society, clinicians and lawyers. Coercion in treatment of severely ill young women suffering intractable chronic anorexia highlights these dilemmas. Various legal machinery regulates coercion in treatment, some, like clinical practices, uniquely Australian. Adults in NSW & SA obtain guardians from Guardianship Boards, but Victoria uses mental health powers. Children are covered by child protection, wardship and Family Court powers. Consent and accountability rules differ, as do experiences of patients, families and clinicians. This study examines how legal institutions shape and interact with clinical and life experience, to found best practice medico-legal guidelines.
   

University Grants

 
Project title: The Regulation of PGD in Australia and New Zealand : Assessing the Attitudes of Key Stakeholders
Researchers: Karpin, I & Bennett, B 
Grant type: USyd Bridging Support Grant
Duration: January 2008-December 2008
Funding: $40,000
Project summary: This project aims to provide a critical analysis of the current Australian regulatory landscape at the interface between genetic technologies and reproductive decision-making and develop a series of policy and legislative recommendations. It involves a comparative analysis with other countries and international law and a contextual examination of the way law regulates concepts such as disease, disability and health. Specific genetic technologies will be considered including prenatal genetic testing, preimplantation genetic diagnosis and genetic modification.
   
Project title: Regulating Reproductive Decision-Making in Australia and the Impact of Genetic Technologies
Researchers: Karpin, I & Bennett, B 
Grant type: USyd Bridging Support Grant
Duration: January 2007-December 2007
Funding: $20,000
Project summary: This project aims to provide a critical analysis of the current Australian regulatory landscape at the interface between genetics and reproductive decision-making and develop a series of policy and legislative recommendations. The project involves a comparative analysis with other countries and international law and a contextual examination of the way law regulates concepts such as disease and health, abnormality and normality. Specific genetic testing technologies will be considered including prenatal genetic testing, preimplantation genetic diagnosis and inheritable genetic modification.
   
Project title: Chronic Diseases in National and Global Perspective: Healthy People, Healthy Places, Prosperous Societies
Researchers: Magnusson, R 
Grant type: USyd International Visiting Fellowships
Duration: March 2009-March 2010
Funding: $20,000
Project summary: USyd International Visiting Fellowship for Professor Lawrence Gostin from Georgetown University Law Center.
   

Law Faculty Grants

 
 
Project title: The construction of the victim in determinations of criminal liability in medical settings
Researchers: Savell, K 
Grant type: Faculty R & D Scheme
Duration: January 2008-December 2008
Funding: $13,815
Project summary: This project asks whether, in the context of a broader cultural turn toward utilitarian ethics, the medical management of seriously disabled individuals poses serious challenges for the criminal law of homicide. The project will draw upon current legal and policy debates around (1) the withdrawal of treatment in adults and children; (2) proposals to relax the prohibition on active killing; and (3) the sacrificial separation of conjoined twins. The primary focus will be to analyse the jurisprudence relating to 'end of life' medical treatment as an intermingling of distinct paradigms (family and criminal) which has been made possible, perhaps necessary, by the failure of criminal law theory to fully engage with the construction of the victim.
   
Project title: Law School Special Visiting Fellow application for Professor Lawrence Gostin from Law Centre, Georgetown University, USA
Researchers: Magnusson, R & Bennett, B
Grant type: Faculty Special Visiting Fellow Scheme
Duration: June-December 2009
Funding: $10,000
   
Project title: An analysis and critique of the legal regulation of embryonic research for therapeutic purposes and the prohibition of inheritable genetic modification in Australia, the UK & the USA
Researchers: Savell, K
Grant type: Legal Scholarship Support Fund
Duration: December 2008-May 2010
Funding: $5,000
Project summary: This project examines legal responses to embryonic research for therapeutic purposes and inheritable genetic modification. Although the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 (Cth) permits embryonic cloning for research only and pre-emptively prohibits inheritable genetic modification (IGM), there has been scant discussion of the impact of such technologies on reproductive rights generally, and the rights of the disabled in particular. Accordingly, this project will adopt a disability rights perspective to examine and critique the current regulatory and policy landscape with respect to embryonic research for therapeutic purposes and IGM in Australia and key comparator jurisdictions, such as the USA and the UK.
   
Project title: Late abortion and the selective non-treatment of newborns with disabilities
Researchers: Savell, K 
Grant type: Legal Scholarship Support Fund
Duration: October 2006-December 2008
Funding $5,000
Project summary: The project will examine the law relating to the late-term abortion of foetuses with abnormalities and in the selective non-treatment of newborns with disabilities. Currently,  NSW laws make no special provision for these cases, though the Department of Health has guidelines for practitioners engaged in late term abortions for foetal abnormality. The overall purpose of the project is to examine the construction of disability in relation to legal understandings of personhood and medical understandings of futility.
   

External Competitive Grants

 
Project title: Ethical and legal issues surrounding the decision-making process for donating and banking Umbilical Cord Blood 
Researchers:

Kerridge, I, O'Brien, T, Stewart, C, Jordens, C, Nassar, N & Ankeny, R 

Grant type: NHMRC Project Grant 
Duration: January 2008 - December 2010 
Funding:

$402,000

Project summary: Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is curative therapy for many malignant and non-malignant conditions including leukaemia, lymphoma, bone marrow failure syndromes, haemoglobinopathies, immunodeficiencies and inborn errors of metabolisms. Over the past decade transplantation using Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) stem cells has been shown to be as effective as transplants using bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. The success of UCB transplantation in children and in adults has been made possible by the establishment of UCB banks. UCB banking has, however, raised a number of important scientific and ethical concerns, including issues regarding ownership of the blood, the processes for obtaining consent for collection and storage, donor and recipient confidentiality, the ethics and science of commercial non-altruistic banking, and social justice issues relating to equity of access and equity of care. Although these concerns have been widely debated, many have not been resolved. Further, to this point there has been no empirical examination of the UCB donation and banking system in Australia.

This research will be the first comprehensive study to ascertain the knowledge and attitudes of the Australian community for UCB donation and banking, as well as provide both a description of practices for obtaining consent, and a thorough legal analysis of the Australian UCB donation and banking system. The results of this research will provide the basis for recommendations for law reform in this area and for changes to institutional practices surrounding education and consent. It is the expectation of the researchers that this, in turn, may lead to increases in donations to public UCB banks, particularly from under-represented populations, which will ultimately benefit all Australians.
      
Project title: Difficult decisions: a critical analysis of consent to high-risk medical procedures
Researchers: Kerridge, I, Stewart, C, Jordens, C & Carter, S 
Grant type: NHMRC Project Grant 
Duration: January 2007-December 2009 
Funding:

$309,750

Project summary:  It is now widely accepted that individuals have the right to make decisions about their own health care and that their consent is required for the commencement or withdrawal of any intervention or treatment. Consent processes thus codify patient autonomy in health care by ensuring both that competent patients are able to make autonomous choices and that non-competent patients are protected from harm. Although most would agree that the concept of consent is important, the concept is neither clear nor distinct, understanding of its practical application of clinical practice is imperfect, and there are many and conflicting views of its nature and its procedures. This study will re-conceptualise consent to high risk medical procedures through a critical examination of its principles and practices. The hypothesis being that formulaic constructions of consent within a medical context in terms of basic elements fails to adequately capture the specific, complex and deeply contextual nature of decisions about healthcare. 
     
Project title: Deconstructing DTCA: : Towards a differentiated policy response to Direct-to-Consumer Advertising in Australia
Researchers: Kerridge, I, Komesaroff, P, Jordens, C, Stewart, C, Ankeny, R & Carter, S 
Grant type: NHMRC Project Grant 
Duration: January 2007-December 2009 
Funding:

$185,563

Project summary: In recent years attention has turned to the role of the Direct to Consumer Advertising (DCTA) on increasing consumer demand for prescription drugs and the costs of health care. Although DCTA is prohibited in Australia, there are commercial and political pressures to reconsider the current ban. This study will examine the harms and benefits of DCTA, the processes of commercial influence and the opinions of major stakeholders regarding DTCA. The results will allow more informed examination of the legislation and health policy and enable development of resources for increasing literacy among lay people and  health professionals for dealing with commercial influence and DTCA.