News

Endeavour Foundation Endowment Fund Research Award



10 August 2012

Sydney Law School would like to congratulate lecturer and PhD candidate, Linda Steele on winning the Endeavour Foundation Endowment Fund Research Award.

Upon receiving the award, Linda said it will go towards her research about how the criminal law mechanism of diversion from the criminal justice system can challenge the criminalisation of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system.

"The overrepresentation of, discrimination against and vulnerability of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system continue to be significant issues across Australia," she said.

"I approach the criminalisation of people with cognitive disability in a broad sense as multi-faceted, systemic and long term and as characterised by extreme social marginalisation, complex and unstable diagnoses, and persisting negative ideas that link disability with abnormality, deviancy and criminality.

"My research will help by suggesting to disability service providers and disability rights and social justice advocates how diversion can be used to address the criminalisation of people with cognitive disability in this broad sense."

Linda said there is an absence of data on the broader social marginalisation of people with cognitive disability who have been the subject of diversion.

"With the Endeavour Foundation Endowment Challenge Fund grant and after gaining ethics approval, I will obtain data from a large dataset created in an ARC Linkage Project: People with mental health disorders and cognitive disabilities in the NSW criminal justice system led by researchers at UNSW (Chief Investigators include Professor Eileen Baldry and Dr Leanne Dowse).

"Working with the researchers at UNSW I will construct case studies on the criminal justice and human service pathways of individuals, all of whom have been in prison, have cognitive disability, and who have been subject to diversion at some point in their lives.

"This will flesh out the complex dynamics in criminalisation of diagnosis, service use, social marginalisation and incarceration of people with cognitive disability and draw out the criminal law's complex role in both supporting and addressing criminalisation.

"I am hoping that this will provide a greater understanding of how diversion can be more effectively used to challenge the criminalisation of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system.

"This can be drawn upon by disability service providers and disability rights and social justice advocates in their ongoing advocacy and service provision in this area.

"I am very grateful to the Endeavour Foundation for supporting me inundertaking this exciting research."

Linda Steele is a PhD candidate at the Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney.

She has been the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award (2009-2012) and the Longworth Scholarship (2012), as well as top-up scholarships John O'Brien Memorial Scholarship in Criminal Law and Criminology (2009, 2010) and The Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey and Littlejohn Scholarship (2012).

Linda has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) / Bachelor of Arts (gender studies) from the University of Wollongong and a Masters of Public and International Law from the University of Melbourne.

Linda teaches legal research and criminal law at Sydney Law School.

She is active in law reform and systemic advocacy around issues concerning the links between disability, the criminal law and social marginalisation.

She is presently an executive member of the Women in Prison Advocacy Network where she is particularly focused on issues for women with disabilities who are in the criminal justice system.

Linda has previously worked as a solicitor at the Intellectual Disability Rights Service Inc during which she engaged in individual legal advocacy and systemic policy and law reform in a wide range of legal matters including defendants and victims with disability in the criminal justice system, parents with disability in the child care and protection system and people with disability under guardianship.


Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 20463c0977140d26382d5d5f43375671394c12372d366b20541166232f