Law and Poverty in Australia: 40 years after the Poverty Commission | Law

Law and Poverty in Australia: 40 years after the Poverty Commission

The AHRCentre and UNSW Law were delighted to host the former High Court Chief Justice, Robert French to launch Law and Poverty in Australia: 40 Years after the Poverty Commission, co-edited by Andrea Durbach, Brendan Edgeworth and Vicki Sentas (published by Federation Press).

The launch of the book coincides with the recent appointment of Justice French to lead the Law Council of Australia’s inquiry, the Justice Project, a national review which will investigate barriers to justice encountered by those facing significant economic and social disadvantage.

A number of factors led to the publication of Law and Poverty, however the key focus was to explore the social, economic and legal changes that have emerged in the four decades since the publication of the Report of the Australian Government Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, Law and Poverty in Australia, known as the Sackville Report, and the Henderson Report on Poverty in Australia that preceded it.

The essays that make up the book began as contributions to a workshop organised by the editors in October 2015 to reflect on the 40th anniversary of the Sackville Report.

The workshop brought together many of the civil society organisations, community advocates and researchers advocating for change before and since the Report. Professor Ronald Sackville, Head of the Law and Poverty Commission and primary author of the Report (and former Dean of UNSW Law School) was a primary participant in the workshop, offering valuable commentary on the authors’ interpretations of the Report’s foundational concepts and its enduring impact across diverse fields of law reform, community legal work and grassroots advocacy and service provision.

The book is a product of the exchanges between workshop participants and considers the progress made following the Report’s recommendations, how the idea of poverty has changed over time, and whether the law has served to reinforce or constrain the impact of poverty on a range of social groups.