Friday, October 3, 2003

Law, Power, and Change Conference: Oct 4th - 6th UTS, Sydney

The Progressive Law Students Network was established in 2001 at the University of Technology, Sydney, as a forum for law students interested in human rights, community law and progressive social change.

Since then the network has expanded, and this conference will be the first opportunity to bring together community and student activists, legal scholars/practioners and law students from around the country who have been working on a variety of projects and campaigns. (Name Removed by Request), one of conference's organisers, spoke to Green Left Weekly about the conference. (article 1)

Conference Information:

The conference is open to all to attend, and is most definitely not limited to law students or lawyers. We encourage people from any background to participate. For the agenda and information on registration, location of the conference, accommodation and making donations please check out .

Free childcare can be arranged. For more information, please contact Brigid O'Connor on 0405 185 070 or email Brigid.L.O' For any other inquiries about the conference, please contact, (Name and Contact Removed By Request). In particular, if you cannot attend the conference, and would like to stay in contact with the Progressive Law Students Network, please let us know.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Tim Anderson, Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. Dr. Mary Crock, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Sydney. Kerry Nettle, Australian Greens Senator for NSW. Chris Cunneen, Director, Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney Law School. Rosemary Gillespie, International human rights lawyer and 'human shield' in Iraq. Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association. Ron Callus, Director of the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training (ACCIRT), University of Sydney Mr Colin Gale, Aboriginal Land Rights Corporation Gillian Moon, Visiting Fellow, School of Law, University of New South Wales. Vicki Sentas, Co-ordinator, UTS Community Law and Legal Research Centre. Amanda Tattersall, Special Projects Officer, Labor Council of NSW. Rita Mallia, Senior Legal Officer, Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). Louise Buchanan, Community Liaison/Volunteer Co-ordinator, UTS Community Law and Legal Research Centre. Anthea Vogel, Refugee casework coordinator, University of Sydney (Name Removed by Request), Progressive Law Students Network, University of Technology, Sydney. Yasmin Hunter, Womens Research Officer, UNSW Student Guild. Dale Mills, Legal Observers Project.

Radical activists and the law

By Dale Mills

A national conference of legal activists will be held at the University of Technology, Sydney, on October 4-6. (Name Removed by Request), one of conference's organisers, spoke to Green Left Weekly about the conference. Who is organising the Law, Power and Change conference and what do you hope to achieve at it?

The conference is being organised by the Progressive Law Students Network, which began in 2001 as a small network of students at UTS. We started with a relatively modest vision of trying to inject a progressive current into the law faculty at UTS by involving students in campaigns such as the refugee or anti-war campaigns, providing a space to develop a radical critique of the function of the law in society, and creating opportunities for students to get involved in community legal work for example, by assisting people in detention centres with their legal appeals.

This small project generated a huge amount of interest, initially from students from other Sydney campuses, and then nationally. The conference is the first opportunity to bring together people from around the country to discuss issues of pressing concern to legal activists, and also the possibility of forming a national network. What sort of people do you expect to come along to the conference?

People have already registered from almost every state in Australia, including law students, people representing a variety of legal organisations and community centres, and progressive academics from a range of disciplines. We have also tried to publicise the conference amongst activist networks, and promote the conference as an opportunity to develop relationships between lawyers and law students, and the wider activist community.

You have speakers on everything from terrorism, refugees, native title, rape, the building industry, to feminism and the environment. Why are all these issues being spoken about at the same conference? Do they have anything in common? The broad theme of the conference is an exploration of how the law as an institution reflects/entrenches power relations, and what potential exists to work for progressive social change, both within and outside of the legal system.

This exploration is grounded in an examination of what we believe are some of the key issues facing society today. More importantly, however, the conference highlights issues we believe a national network of radical lawyers and students could take on as a focus for their activity, either by contributing to existing movements or by initiating new campaigns.

What are you hoping to achieve through the conference? We hope that the conference will provide an opportunity to forge enduring relationships between the various participants, initiate new projects or involve people in existing projects, and contribute to developing a current and radical critique of the law.

On a grander scale, we hope that the conference might constitute the beginning of a movement of progressive lawyers and students to combat the pervasive conservatism of the legal profession. Isn't this just a bunch of elite lawyers speaking to each other. Why should ordinary people care?

The issues addressed in the conference relate to how the law as a system is used to implement a particular social order that impact mostly negatively on every element of the lives of ordinary people. In general terms, the law operates as the engine oil that sustains capitalism, with the obvious attendant consequences.

In more specific terms, the topics dealt with in the conference have immediate relevance to ordinary people. For example, the erosion of the right to organise in the workplace has serious consequences for the capacity of working people to seek to improve their working conditions. The use of the criminal justice system to terrorise and disrupt the lives of Indigenous and poor communities has massive implications for the daily lives of people in those communities.

The war on terrorism , implemented in Australia through an ever-expanding executive arm of government, raises a serious threat to the security of Muslim communities, among others. This is not to mention the threat posed to the security of the world's population given the potential for the arbitrary pre-emptive use of force to continue to seriously destabilise particular regions.

Address: Oct 4-6 @ UTS (City & Haymarket Campuses) - (Named Contact Removed by Request).

Green Left Weekly

by Progressive Law Students Network October 3 03


The Daily Propaganda: Bali bombings could have been worse?
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner, Mick Keelty, says the bombs that killed 88 Australians in Bali could have done a lot more damage if they had been built differently.

Judge renews child detainee release call
A Family Court judge, for a second time, has appealed to Immigration Minister, war criminal, Philip Ruddock to address the issue of children in detention.

NSW Terrorist Minister leads the way
New South Wales is hosting a two-day conference of state and territory prisons ministers on how to detain terrorists [scapegoats for the Coalition of the Killing's resource war's in the Middle East.]

Signs of the Times: Aggressive Scepticism
If anyone has known a schizophrenic then you may also know that it is because of some sound or picture that invaded their thoughts which sent them mad. So possibly, any invasion of my time with self, a time to integrate past experiences could send someone mad. However if there is no interference with our own thoughts and ideas we sometimes choose to write down our conclusions and share our ideas with others socially.

Pilger said White House knew Saddam was no threat
Australian investigative journalist John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie which could cost George W Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them.

Civil Liabilities: Howard's diversity? I had a dream?
The war criminal, Prime Minister, John Howard, who only yesterday was claiming he was showing diversity has stepped up pressure on the states to support plans to increase the war criminal, Federal Attorney-General's powers to ban terrorist organisations, [scapegoats and patsies for the Coalition of the Killing's illegal and degrading resource wars in the Middle East.]