Realizing the Right to Health for the Most Disadvantaged-Dr Liz Curran (ANU)
01 Nov 2016, 1pm | Room F, Law Faculty, Oxford University

How can we as a society ensure that people who are the most vulnerable or have little voice can avail themselves of the protection in law that befit civilised society? Empirical Studies in Australia (similar to the UK LSRC findings) reveal that the most excluded are likely to have multiple legal problems and least likely (only 16%) to gain access to legal assistance for problems capable of a legal solution like debt, poor housing, discrimination, consumer issues and access to essential services for survival.

Yet that same research reveals they often turn to health and allied health professionals for help but their legal problems still remain un-identified. Research tells us that unresolved legal problems lead to poor health outcomes. In this seminar, using her recent research into Multi-Disciplinary Practice (MDP), and practice informed experience Dr Curran will break down ways to enhance access to justice, improve outcomes and the social determinants of health. An MDP for example Health Justice Partnerships (HJP) sees a lawyer/s working in a multi-disciplinary practice alongside health and allied health professionals. The aim is to reach those members of the community who would otherwise not gain legal assistance with their legal problems (84%) but are most likely to have a range of legal problems as the research tells us due to a range of barriers they are unlikely to receive help but are likely to turn to their trusted health professional.  This seminar explores the challenges of such work and gives suggestions on how it can be done effectively and efficiently to make a difference in people’s lives. The seminar will discuss recent empirical research by Dr Curran with findings that multi-disciplinary practices are reaching those who are most at risk of having their human rights ignored or intruded upon.


Dr Elizabeth Curran
Melbourne based, Dr Liz Curran is Senior Lecturer in the Australian National University (ANU) Legal Workshop (an Australia-wide Professional Legal Education course). Dr Curran is Associate Director of ANUs international Profession, Education and Regulation in Law Centre (PEARL). She is also the Leader of the ‘Access to Justice’ stream of PEARL. Liz was the recipient of the Australian Centenary Medal for ‘services to community and lecturing’.

Dr Curran’s research focuses on access to justice; the rule of law; human rights of people in disadvantage; building legal and advocacy capacity of community; impact and effectiveness of service delivery. She has published research reports (2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016) on outcomes, quality and effectiveness and on a ‘Strategic Approaches to Problem Solving’ (March 2013). Between 2014 and end 2018 Liz is commissioned to conduct a number of research evaluations of Multi –Disciplinary practice including Health Justice Partnerships (HJP) in Australia and advising in Canada and recently, in the UK. She evaluated a family violence prevention program in May 2015 which informed the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Liz is a regular media commentator on human rights and access to justice.

Her recent research on HJP’s aims to better reach clients in most need of legal help, who currently have no access, through multi-disciplinary practice. Liz’s research on effective legal and community service practice, impact and positive client outcomes examining what improves the social determinants of health has led to considerable interest domestically and overseas. Liz is advising the Legal Services Board Victoria (LSB) on evaluation to support and guide eight LSB HJP funded services. Her research uses empirical study to find what works and why and gives a voice to people who are often invisible and experience social exclusion. Liz is also a practicing solicitor and undertakes community development and professional training for legal and non -legal professionals.

Liz is heavily cited in the Productivity Commission’s Reports on ‘Access to Justice Arrangements’ (Volumes One and Two), the Allen Consulting ‘Review of the National Partnership Agreement of Legal Assistance Service in Australia’. She has sat on government and statutory advisories and many of her law reform suggestions have been implemented.