2019 Seminar List

Seminar Recordings

A copy of the Seminar recordings are available at the 2019 Kirby Seminar Series Echo Centre.

Seminar Abstracts

Professor Eileen Webb

Professor Eileen Webb

Professor Eileen Webb joined the UniSA School of Law in 2019. She was previously Professor of Law at Curtin Law School, Perth, Western Australia, where she continues as an Adjunct Professor. Eileen teaches and researches in real property law, particularly housing and tenancy law, competition and consumer law (including small business law) and elder law. Eileen was formerly an Associate Dean of UWA Law School and a member of the Western Australian Law Reform Commission.

Eileen is passionate about housing issues affecting vulnerable members of our society. Her recent research has focused on security of tenure for older people, particularly how the operation of existing laws may make Seniors susceptible to financial exploitation. She has also examined how revised property and planning laws could facilitate more downsizing options for

Seniors, canvassed the need for law reforms addressing contentious issue of assets for care arrangements and considered whether human rights principles in property law could help to alleviate the plight of older homeless women.

Eileen has been a member of two national AHURI projects examining the scope for social impact investment to alleviate housing vulnerability, a BCEC project on security of tenure for older renters, a Queensland Government project reviewing the prevalence and characteristics of elder abuse in Queensland and, most recently, a National Survey on the Impact of Tenancy Laws on Women and Children Escaping Violence.

She is a member of the Expert Reference Group for the international cross-organisational research initiative, The Implications of the Tenure Revolution for New Zealand and its Ageing Society.

Eileen is a foundation member of the Australian Research Network on Law and Ageing (ARNLA) and a member of the Australian Association of Gerontology, including the Housing and Built Environment and Elder Abuse special interest groups. She is also a member of the ACCC’s Small Business and Franchising Consultative Committee.


Accommodation agreements between older people and their families: A legal and emotional minefield

With housing affordability declining and an ageing population, family arrangements involving shared property and/or pooled resources are commonplace and will become more so. Problems arise when such arrangements break down. Often, there is a lack of legal recourse for the older person, leaving him or her without funds, accommodation and care.

It is assumed that the law can accommodate recognition, and protection, of such arrangements. However, the issue is not straightforward.  As these are familial arrangements, in most cases the parties have not entered into a contract, nor have any certainty regarding the parties’ rights and obligations under the agreement. In the absence of a contract, and again in most cases, no interest in the land, the older person must seek assistance through various equitable doctrines that provide little practical assistance.

This Kirby Research seminar discusses the distinctive characteristics of these transactions, and the legal pitfalls for older people. In so doing, recent cases analysing the nature of the agreements and remedies will be discussed. The presentation will conclude with some suggestions as to how the law can best respond to these arrangements either by adapting existing principles, or through legislative amendments.

Rob Fowler

Professor Rob Fowler


Sustainability and the Law

There is mounting evidence that a transition to sustainability is required in the coming decades if we are to avoid some form of significant collapse on a global scale. This transition will require multiple responses across different disciplines and stakeholders and must encompass all three “pillars” of sustainability (economic, social and environmental).  This presentation will consider the role of law as an instrument to support and facilitate this transition, acknowledging at the same time that law alone cannot deliver it. A starting point could be the major reform of two existing areas of law: environmental law and laws endorsing various principles of sustainable development, each of which has evolved rapidly in recent decades. However, whilst such reform is highly desirable, this alone will be unlikely to provide adequate support for the required transition.

In addition, a new body of innovative laws that focuses specifically on the goal of sustainability is needed (“sustainability laws”). This topic is relatively uncharted territory. A starting point could be an examination of how innovative laws might address the underlying drivers of collapse (such as excessive consumption, population and economic growth). For example, a radical reform of resource allocation laws might allow for extraction only where it is possible to replace each resource (if renewable) or to reuse or recycle it (if non-renewable).  At the international level, the idea that sovereignty includes the right to exploit natural resources may need to give way to an over-riding duty upon nations to conserve and protect their resources.

Mark Fowler

Mark Fowler

Mark Fowler is a practicing lawyer whose specialist areas of advice include the law applying to schools, international aid organisations, retirement villages, aged care facilities and religious organisations. Mark also has a breadth of experience in property and commercial law, with a particular focus on the affordable, community and social housing sectors and advises many leading national and international charities.
Prior to establishing Fowler Charity Law Pty Ltd, Mark was a Partner in leading national charity and not-for-profit law firms located in Sydney and Brisbane. He is an Appeals Panel member for the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak body for Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) involved in international development and humanitarian action. He is a member of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Professional Users Group and has served as a member of the Queensland Law Society’s Human Rights Working Group. He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame Law School and a graduate of UNE School of Law.


The Bounds of Charitable Speech

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s ability to revoke a charity’s tax exempt status for its political advocacy has created some recent controversy in Australia. A law that can be wielded first against the environmental movement and then against Catholic Education Melbourne has almost unlimited entertainment potential. A law that can unite Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten in common outrage holds a decidedly unique prospect for reform. Recently the Australian Law Reform Commission concluded that the limitations imposed by sections 5 and 11 of the Charities Act may be ‘characterised as interfering with freedom of speech and expression.’ In this address Mr Fowler will consider the implications of these limitations against the experience in other Anglophone common law jurisdictions and the merits of the case for reform

Gary Johns

The Hon Dr Gary Johns

Commissioner – Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commissions

The Hon Dr Gary John took up the role of Commissioner following a long and varied career in public service and policy advice, including as the author of eight books on public policy. He was an inaugural board member of Volunteers Australia, a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Community partnership, and the committee to design the Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sex abuse.

Gary was a member of the House of Representatives from 19871996 and served variously as Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, and Special Minister of State and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations. He served as an Associate Commissioner of the Associate Commissioner of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission 2002-2004. He received the Centenary Medal in 2001 and the Fulbright Professional Award in Australian-United States Alliance Studies in 2002, which was served at Georgetown University, Washington DC.

He was Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, senior consultant with ACIL Tasman, Associate Professor, Australian Catholic University, and Visiting Fellow at QUT Business School.


ACNC strategy: a more visible charity market

There exists a market in charitable intentions that involves exchanges between donors (funders) and charities (representing beneficiaries). Information and trust are vital in these exchanges. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission collects important information about the 57,000 charities registered with it. The Commission is exploring how this data could be made publicly available in a way that would create a more informed market, leading to a better functioning charity market and enhanced discussion about the sector’s performance. To this end, the Commission has embarked on two data projects. The first is the ‘Program Marketplace’ project, the aim of which is to enable users of the ACNC Register to search for comparable charity programs provided for specific beneficiaries, in specific locations. The second project aims to enable the Commissioner to publish a regular series of statistics that provide a measure of the positive attributes referred to in the second object of the ACNC Act, that is: the extent to which the charity sector is robust, vibrant, independent and innovative

Professor Matthew Rimmer 

Professor Matthew Rimmer

Dr Matthew Rimmer is a professor in Intellectual property and Innovation Law at the Faculty of Law, at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). He is a leader of the QUT Intellectual Property and Innovation Law research program, and a member of the QUT Digital Media Research Centre (QUT DMRC) the QUT International Law and Global Governance Research Program (QUT IPIL). Rimmer has published widely on copyright law and information technology, patent law and biotechnology, access to medicines, plain packaging of tobacco products, intellectual property and climate change, and Indigenous  Intellectual Property. He is currently working on research on intellectual property, the creative industries, and #D printing; intellectual property and public health; and intellectual property and trade, looking at the Trans-pacfic Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Inverstments Partnership, and the Trade in Services Agreement. His work is archived at QUT ePrints, SSRN Abstracts, and Bepress Selected Works.


3D Printing and Beyond: Intellectual Property and Regulation

This presentation will consider the legal and intellectual property (IP) implications relating to 3D printing and emerging technologies from the perspective of UK, USA and Australia. It will provide an in-depth consideration of the intellectual property implications of 3D printing, before moving on to a consideration of the legal and intellectual property challenges posed by future and emerging technologies. As such, the talk will set out some of the most pressing challenges for intellectual property in the present times, as a result of 3D printing before moving on to a consideration of the future by discussing not only intellectual property, but also other legal challenges (i.e., contractual, privacy, ethical issues) as a result of emerging technologies. The presentation will also consider the scope for 3D printing and additive manufacturing in rural makerspaces. It will also consider how 3D printing may help bolster regional and rural innovation in Australia.