Ms Marcelle Burns

Lecturer - School of Law

Marcelle Burns

Phone: +61 2 6773 2686



Marcelle Burns is a Gomeroi-Kamilaroi first nations’ woman and lecturer at the School of Law, University of New England (UNE). She has over twenty years’ experience in the field of Indigenous peoples and law, working as both as a lawyer and academic.  Her legal professional experience includes working as a solicitor with the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited, the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, and in private practice assisting in native title and land rights claims.  As an academic she has contributed to developing Indigenous inclusive legal curriculum at UNE, Queensland University of Technology and Southern Cross University.  Her main research interests include the recognition of First Nations in international and domestic laws, and Indigenous knowledges and cultural competency in legal education.


BA/LLB (Hons) (SCU)
Graduate Diploma Legal Practice (COL)
Solicitor, Supreme Court of New South Wales


Southern Cross University’s School of Law and Justice Alumnus of the Year - 2017.

UNE Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Research - 2018.

Teaching Areas

LAW101- Law in Context

LAW 164 - Indigenous Australians and Law

LAW314 - Advanced Criminal Law

Primary Research Area/s

Indigenous law; Indigenous knowledges and cultural competency in legal education

Research Interests

Current research: Marcelle is a PhD candidate at the University of South Australia, with her thesis examining the concept of society and the recognition of First Nations peoples in international and domestic law.

Research Grants:

2015-2018 Project Leader, Indigenous Cultural Competency for Legal Academics Program (Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching Grant ID 14-3906) -

2012-2015 Network Member, National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN), (Australian Research Council Grant ID SR 120100005) -


Book Chapters

Marcelle Burns, 'The "natural" law of nations: society and the exclusion of First Nations as subjects of international law', in Irene Watson (ed), Indigenous Peoples as Subjects in International Law (Routledge, 2018), 38-53.

Marcelle Burns, Russell Cavanagh and Melissa O'Donnell, 'Yarning about Lawyering with and for Rural and Regional Aboriginal Communities', in Trish Mundy, Amanda Kennedy and Jennifer Nielsen (eds), The Place of Practice: Lawyering in Rural and Regional Australia (Federated Press, 2017), 167-194.

Irene Watson and Marcelle Burns, 'Indigenous Knowledges: A Strategy for Indigenous Peoples Engagement in Higher Education', in Sally Varnham, Patty Kamvounias and Joan Squelch (eds), Higher Education and the Law (Federation Press, 2015), 167-194.

Marcelle Burns, 'Shifting Global Power and Shifting State Power: DRIP, BRICs and CANZUS', in Rowena Maguire, Bridget Lewis and Charles Sampford (eds), Shifting Global Powers and International Law: Challenges and Opportunities (Routledge, 2013), 154-170.

Peer Reviewed Articles

Marcelle Burns, 'Are We There Yet? Indigenous Cultural Competency in Legal Education' (2018), Legal Education Review 28(2), 215-243.

Marcelle Burns and Jennifer Nielsen, 'Dealing with the "Wicked" Problem of Race and the Law: A Critical Journal for Students (and Academics)' (2018), Legal Education Review 28(2), 375-403.

Marcelle Burns, Simon Young and Jennifer Nielsen, 'The Difficulties of Communication Encountered by Indigenous Peoples: Moving Beyond Indigenous Deficit in the Model Admission Rules for Legal Practitioners' (2018), Legal Education Review 28(2), 405-431.

Angela Dwyer, Bridget Lewis, Fiona McDonald and Marcelle Burns, 'It's always a pleasure: Exploring productivity and pleasure in a writing group for early career academics' (2012), Studies in Continuing Education, 1-16.

Marcelle Burns, 'Closing the Gap between Policy and "Law": Indigenous Homelands and a Working Future' (2011), Law in Context 27(2), 114-134.

Marcelle Burns, 'Challenging the Assumptions of Positivism: An Analysis of the Concept of Society in Sampi on Behalf of the Bardi and Jawi People v Western Australia [2010] and Bodney v Bennell [2008], Land, Rights, Laws: Issues of Native Title, Issues Paper No. 4(7).

Marcelle Burns, 'The Unfinished Business of the Apology: Senate rejects Stolen Generations Compensation Bill 2008 (Cth)' (2008), Indigenous Law Bulletin 7, 10-14.

Research Reports

Marcelle Burns, Anita Lee Hong and Asmi Wood, Indigenous Cultural Competency for Legal Academics Program: Final Report (Department of Education and Training, 2019).

Indigenous Cultural Competency for Legal Academics Program, ICCLAP Consultation Workshop Report (2016).

Scholarly Works

Marcelle Burns, 'Special Issue Editorial: Indigenous Cultural Competency in Law' (2018-19), Legal Education Review 28(2), 209-214.

Marcelle Burns, 'Guest Editorial: World Indigenous Legal Conference 2014 - Special Forum' (2015), Queensland University of Technology Law Review (1).

Marcelle Burns, 'Book Review: Indigenous Nations' Rights in the Balance: An Analysis of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' (2014), International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies 7, 14.

Marcelle Burns, 'Book Review: Indigenous Legal Relations in Australia', Queensland University of Technology Law Review, 101-104.

Marcelle Burns, 'Indigenous Australians and a National Charter of Human Rights: Issues for Consideration' (2009), Indigenous Law Bulletin 7(10), 2.

Clinical Skills and Experience

Criminal law


Member – Friends of Myall Creek Memorial (Armidale Chapter)

Member - Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Member – National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network