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Dr Nicola Ross

Senior Lecturer

Newcastle Law School

Career Summary


I have taught at the Law School since 1999, following a career as a lawyer, social worker, manager and policy consultant to State and Federal government. I have been an active researcher since 2005 and was awarded a PhD from Sydney University in May, 2012. My PhD encompassed an empirical study of children’s lawyers in New South Wales in family law, child protection and crime – I argued that more needs to be done to support children’s lawyers relating to the children they represent.

Although my research specialisation is children’s lawyers, I also have research interests in children’s human rights, legal representation of children and children’s participation in the legal process; child protection, adoption and family Law. I have recently written about interprofessional education and collaboration between lawyers and social workers, children and young people's participation in child protection proceedings, and peer mentoring and simulations in legal education. Current service roles I undertake are in research and experiential education.

I coordinate Family Law, Child Law (a dual badge subject taught to law students and social work students) and International Child and Family Law (LLM course beginning in 2015). Before joining the academy I worked as a lawyer in private practice (family law and crime), as a social worker in developing and managing a community team, and as a policy consultant to State and Federal Government.

Research Expertise
My doctorate considered how children’s lawyers in family law, child protection and crime understand the aspects of their role intended to facilitate children’s participation. I undertook an empirical study that explored lawyers' experience of representing children and revealed some of the tensions that impacted on their practice. This study employed a qualitative method, using interviews with 35 children’s lawyers who practise in one, two or all three of these jurisdictions in New South Wales. The study utilised existing research into children’s experiences of legal representation. It took a children’s rights approach, coupled with relational theory, sociocultural theory and the sociology of childhood. The findings suggest that lawyers’ practice in relation to children’s participation is affected by the nature of the proceedings and discourse in the jurisdiction, the model of representation and individual factors relating to lawyers’ ethical orientations to practice. Lawyers’ relational approaches correlated most closely with children’s right to participation and expectations of legal representation.

Teaching Expertise
In 2013, I was awarded the Faculty of Business and Law 'Excellence in Law Teaching" Award. I supervise one PhD student and have supervised seven Honours students since 2010 in relation to family and child law topics. These include: PhD supervision: Neisha Shepherd (enrolled 2014) Honours Supervision (2010 Rachel Aspinall, ‘Children and Internet Exposure to Pornography’: Reframing the Debate using Children’s Rights’. Nicole Lojszczyk, ‘The Changing Face of Relocation: An examination of the proposal of a presumption in favour of relocation in circumstances involving family violence’. Khiara Tritton, ‘The Use of Social Science Research in Alienation Matters: The need for specialist knowledge in specialist courts’. Loren Riddell, ‘Crossover Youth: An examination of the welfare needs of children involved in the New South Wales juvenile justice system’. Kwan Fu Tiphanie Au, ‘Achieving Certainty and Fairness in Binding Financial Agreements’. Kathryn Patterson: 'The Kennon Principle: A Time for Change?'

Administrative Expertise
Selected seminars and events organised for the university and local professionals include: • ‘The Balibo 5 Coronial Inquest; Magistrate Dorelle Pinch, 11/11/2009 • ‘Strengthening Relationships within the Family Law System, Assoc. Prof Helen Rhoades, Chair, Family Law Council, and Anne Hollands, Chair of the Family Relationships Services Australia, 2/12/2010 (organised in association with the Newcastle Family Law Pathways Network and Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners’ Association) * 'Therapeutic Jurisprudence', visiting scholar Dr Susan Brooks, Drexel Law School,Philadelphia 29/11/13 * 'The Challenge of Making Children's and Young People's Participation Real", Professor Nigel Thomas, University of Central Lancashire, 28/3/14. I have been one of the conveners of the Law School’s Legal Research Network from 2009 - 2014. I initiated and facilitated the first Writing Group (for academics and RHD students) in the Law School from 2012-2014 and have represented Newcastle Law School on the Faculty Research Committee since 2012. I currently co-convene the Law School's experiential education Committee. In 2013 I was the Honours Coordinator for the Law School. I have been Newcastle Law School’s representative to the Australasian Law Teachers Association since 2011.

I am engaged in a number of collaborative projects, with colleagues from the University of Newcastle and professionals in the local or Sydney based area. Current active projects are (i) research into DV Lethality for lawyers (ii) Work with several NGOs and other university researchers in relation to children who have been removed from their homes due to protective concerns in Newcastle/surrounds, with themes of family inclusion and children and young people's participation. I have co-edited the Australian Families Research E-Bulletin (3 issues per year) together with Dr Richard Fletcher, Family Action Centre (University of Newcastle) and Interrelate, NSW since 2010.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Social Work (Honours), University of New South Wales
  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Macquarie University
  • Diploma of Legal Practice, College of Law


  • Child Law
  • Child Protection
  • Children's Participation
  • Children's human rights
  • Children's lawyers
  • Dispute resolution
  • Family Law and child protection
  • Family law
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Legal Method - communication
  • simulated clients in legal education

Fields of Research

180113Family Law30
180121Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession35
220104Human Rights and Justice Issues35

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2015 - Senior LecturerUniversity of Newcastle
Newcastle Law School
1/04/2011 - 30/06/2011Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science

Academic appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2013 - Membership - International Society of Family LawInternational Society of Family Law
1/01/2012 - Membership - Association of Family and Conciliation CourtsAssociation of Family and Conciliation Courts
1/01/2009 - Membership - Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners AssociationHunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association
1/01/2008 - Membership - Greater Newcastle Family Law Pathways NetworkGreater Newcastle Family Law Pathways Network
1/01/2007 - Membership - Newcastle Law SocietyNewcastle Law Society
1/01/2007 - Membership - Family Law Section, Law Council of AustraliaFamily Law Section, Law Council of Australia
1/01/2004 - Membership - Australasian Law Teachers AssociationAustralasian Law Teachers Association


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Chapter (2 outputs)

2014Ross N, Apps AE, Campbell S, 'Shaping the future lawyer: connecting students with clients in first-year law', Legal Education: Simulation in Theory and Practice, Ashgate, London 67-86 (2014) [B1]
Co-authorsAnn Apps
2008Ross NM, 'Legal representation of children', Children and the Law in Australia, LexisNexis, Chatswood, New South Wales 544-573 (2008) [B1]

Journal article (7 outputs)

2013Ross NM, 'Different Views? Children's Lawyers and Children's Participation in Protective Proceedings in New South Wales, Australia', International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 27 332-358 (2013) [C1]
2013Ross N, 'Children's Lawyers: "Seeing" children', New Zealand Law Review, 2013 409-427 (2013) [C1]
2013Freeman E, Ross NM, St George J, Fletcher R, 'A quantitative analysis of practitioners' knowledge of fathers and fathers' engagement in family relationship services', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 24 270-277 (2013) [C1]
Co-authorsRichard Fletcher, Emily Freeman, Jennifer Stgeorge
2012Ross NM, 'Independent children's lawyers: Relational approaches to children's representation', Australian Journal of Family Law, 26 1-26 (2012) [C1]
2012Ross NM, 'The Dad Factor [Book review]', Australian Journal of Family Law, 26 280 (2012) [C3]
2006Ross NM, Finlay-Jones JA, 'Peer Mentoring for Law Students - Improving the First Year Advocacy Experience', The Law Teacher, 40 22-38 (2006) [C1]
2005Ross NM, 'Images of children: agency, art 12 and models for legal representation.', Australian Journal of Family Law, 19 94-111 (2005) [C1]
Show 4 more journal articles

Conference (8 outputs)

2012Ross NM, 'Critical or a nonsense? How children's lawyers define children's participation in court proceedings', Doing Justice for Young People: Issues and challenges for Judicial Administration in Australia and New Zealand Conference, Brisbane (2012) [E3]
2011Ross NM, 'Contrasting children's participation in family law and child protection proceedings', Child Protection in Australia and New Zealand: Issues and challenges for Judicial Administration Conference, Brisbane (2011) [E3]
2011Ross NM, 'Child representation in protective proceedings in New South Wales: A paradox', Child Protection in Australia and New Zealand: Issues and challenges for Judicial Administration Conference, Brisbane (2011) [E3]
2011Ross NM, Campbell SA, Apps AE, 'Up close and personal - Creating a simulated client experience for first year law students', 14th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference 2011, Brisbane, QLD (2011) [E2]
Co-authorsAnn Apps
2010Ross NM, 'Contrasting children's participation through lawyers in family law and child protection proceedings', 11th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference. Program and Abstracts, Melbourne, Vic (2010) [E3]
2009Ross NM, 'Two sides of the same coin? Lawyers' representation of children and children's participation in legal proceedings', 5th World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights: Registration Brochure, Halifax, Nova Scotia (2009) [E3]
2005Ross N, 'Agency, Article 12 and Models of Legal Representation in Australia', 4th World Congress on Family Law and Children''s Rights, Cape Town (2005) [E2]
2004Ross N, 'Building Bridges: a peer mentoring program', Conference Proceedings Crossing Boundaries Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference, Darwin (2004) [E2]
Show 5 more conferences

Grants and Funding


Number of grants1
Total funding$2,045

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20051 grants / $2,045

The Fourth World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights, 20-23 March 2005$2,045

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle
Project TeamDoctor Nicola Ross
SchemeTravel Grant
Funding Start2005
Funding Finish2005
Type Of FundingInternal

Research Supervision

Current Supervision

CommencedResearch Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015The Impact of Inequality: How Australian Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults in Same-Sex Parented Families Perceive Themselves to be Affected by Anti-Gay Laws
Law, Faculty of Business and Law


Nicola Ross on Child Representation

March 25, 2014

Dr Nicola Ross was a keynote speaker at the 2014 NSW Child Representation Conference organised by Legal Aid NSW.

Children in care need protection

Children in care need protection of society

March 20, 2014

In recent days reports have emerged about organised sexual abuse of teenagers in residential care in Victoria. We have also witnessed the devastating stories of adult survivors of child sexual and other abuse by the authorities into whose care they were entrusted when they were vulnerable children.

Dr Nicola Ross


Senior Lecturer
Newcastle Law School
Faculty of Business and Law

Contact Details
Phone(02) 4921 5871
Fax(02) 4921 6931


RoomMC 166
BuildingMcMullin Building
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308