Student research

Children’s medical treatment

Stephanie Jowett, one of the Centre’s PhD students explores the requirement for court involvement in medical decisions for children, including access to ‘special medical procedures’ such as hormonal treatment for gender dysphoria and abortion.


Student research

Our postgraduate research students explore a broad range of topics in the fields of end of life, children’s health and the beginning of life, and governance and regulation of health care.

If you’re interested in pursuing a research degree within our centre, let us know about your interests and we’ll help you find an appropriate supervisor.

You can also take a look at our current student research topics to see examples of some of the research undertaken by our students.

Examples of current student research topics

To give you an idea of the kinds of topics you could study with us, here is a selection of PhD topics that are currently being studied, or have recently been studied, by our research students. You can also read more about our research projects and expertise.

End of life

Enforceability of mental health advance directives in Australia: the legal limits of personal autonomy
Under what circumstances are a person’s wishes respected or overridden? This study examines the relationship between mental health advance directives and the involuntary treatment provisions in mental health legislation.

Patient refusal of ambulance treatment: promoting paramedic decision-making through use of a legal framework to assess the validity of refusals in the pre-hospital setting
How do paramedics respond to patients who refuse treatment in time-critical situations? This study evaluates paramedics’ understanding of the law relating to refusal of treatment. The research also identifies gaps and uncertainties that may hinder their work.

Regulating doctor-initiated decisions to forgo life-sustaining treatment in a health system with limited resources
What is the role of resource considerations in decisions about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in critically ill adult patients? This thesis examines the regulatory complexities around doctors’ dual role as both patient advocate and gatekeeper of medical resources.

Children’s health and the beginning of life

Limits to parental consent for ‘special medical procedures’: A human rights analysis of Australian law
This research explores the requirement for court involvement in medical decisions for children. It considers the human rights of Australian children attempting to access ‘special medical procedures’ such as hormonal treatment for gender dysphoria, and abortion.

Paramedics and children exposed to domestic violence
This research explores paramedics’ understanding and experiences of children exposed to domestic violence in the context of legal, social and health frameworks. It aims to discover whether paramedics as an agency have been overlooked as having responsibilities to children exposed to domestic violence in relation to the broader topic of child abuse and neglect.

Legal and feminist analyses of different Australian and other legislative frameworks for commercial surrogacy will indicate differential legal, theoretical and practical flaws
Why is commercial surrogacy illegal in all Australian jurisdictions except the Northern Territory? This feminist critique explores the legal and policy reasons, as well as the practical problems that led to the current legislation.

Child emotional abuse and family law: is the current system protecting children from harm?
This study compares current and past approaches of the Family Court of Australia in dealing with parenting disputes. The thesis examines whether children are protected from emotionally abusive care-givers under the current system.

Governance and regulation of health care

Pharmaceutical patent opposition as an access to drugs strategy: A case study of India
By curtailing the practice of evergreening pharmaceutical patents in India, can access to affordable medicines be improved?

Regulation of specialist medical education programs in Australia
This research applies contemporary principles of responsive regulation and analyses new, rich data about the organisational structure, culture, and interests of Australia’s specialist medical education providers.

Relational impacts on autonomous decision making capacity and the flow-on effects on capacity to consent to participation in human research
The decision to become a human ‘guinea-pig’ can be heavily influenced by friends, family and cultural factors. This study explores the impact of personal and systemic relationships on people who are asked to give consent in human research.