Dr Nicola Ross

Dr Nicola Ross

Senior Lecturer

Newcastle Law School

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Nicola Ross has a PhD in law from the University of Sydney, and degrees in law (Mq) and social work (UNSW). Her research concerns how the law and legal practice affect children and their families. A special focus of this research has been how children and their parents participate in court proceedings, particularly in family, child protection and criminal law. She has a strong interest in restorative justice and restorative practice, and is involved in a collaboration to transform Newcastle into a restorative city. She lectures and writes on children and law, children's participation in legal processes, children’s lawyers, parents' participation in child protection processes, family law, crime, child protection, adoption, inter-professional collaboration and restorative cities. She also writes on study abroad experiences for law students.

Background and Research
A strong interest in social justice guided my early career as a lawyer, social worker, manager and policy consultant to government. As an academic, I focus on how the law and legal practice affects children and their families, with a particular interest in how children, young people and parents participate in legal processes. My PhD from Sydney University incorporated an empirical study of children’s lawyers in New South Wales in family law, child protection and crime, with a focus on how children participate in decision making through lawyers. I argued that relationality is key to how lawyers represent children, and that we need to do more to support children’s lawyers relating to the children they represent. 

My research concerns how lawyers and legal systems support children, young people and parents to participate in legal processes and proceedings. Current research interests include how we can enhance the participation of children, young people and their families in child protection and family law. A more recent focus of research is how restorative cities can support social inclusion. My research in legal education has included the use of simulations, collaboration between lawyers and social workers, and internationalising the legal curriculum through study abroad and work-integrated learning initiatives. 

Teaching: I coordinate Family Law and Child Law (law and social work students) and teach Legal System and Method to JD students in 2018. In 2016, I took students to Cambodia with the support of New Columbo Plan funding to work on international child and family law issues. I have received further New Columbo funding to take students to Cambodia again in 2018. 

Service roles undertaken for the School and Faculty include Convenor of the Juris Doctor Program, Honours Program, Faculty and School research representative and first External Relations Convenor for the School in 2016/17. In 2018 (Semester 2) I will be responsible for indigenous education. 

Research Expertise and recent publications
In my PhD I 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 tensions that influencing their practice. This qualitative research involved interviews with 35 children’s lawyers who practised in one, two or all three of these jurisdictions in New South Wales. The study built upon existing research into children’s experiences of legal representation. It adopted a children’s rights approach, utilising relational and sociocultural theory and the sociology of childhood. The findings suggest that the nature of proceedings, discourse in the jurisdiction, the model of representation and individual factors relating to lawyers’ ethical orientations to practice influence lawyers’ approach to children’s participation. Lawyers’ relational approaches correlated most closely with children’s right to participation and expectations of legal representation. 

In 2013, I was a consultant to the Independent Children's Lawyers (ICL) Study funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department and undertaken by AIFS. My role included interviewing children about their experiences having an ICL represent them. 

In 2015-2017, I led a research collaboration with a team of academics, practitioners and parent consultants to interview parents who had children removed from their care and placed in out-of-home care. This research explored parents' experiences of legal processes and proceedings and of opportunities to participate in their children's care, while their children were in out-of-home care.

I have published recently in the areas of adoption, family violence, how children are heard in Hague Child Abduction Convention matters, child representation, restorative cities and international study opportunities for law students. Publications about parents' experiences of legal processes in child protecton matters are in press.

Teaching Expertise
In 2013, I was awarded the Faculty of Business and Law 'Excellence in Law Teaching" Award. I have supervised PhD and Honours students since 2010 in relation to family and child law topics. 

Collaborations
I am engaged in a number of collaborative projects, with colleagues from the University of Newcastle and professionals/other academics in the local or Sydney based area. 

I am part of a team of academics in the Law School, broader University and members of the community who are collaborating to develop Newcastle as a restorative city. We will hold a symposium in June 2018, with invited international keynote speakers to explore how the city of Newcastle might progress in this way.

Recently I led a research team including partners from the Family Action Centre and Social Work Schools at UoN, Life Without Barriers (LWB) and parent consultants from FISH (Family Inclusion Services Hunter), a parent and worker led coalition for parents who have had children removed from their care. LWB is a non-government organisation and the largest provider of out-of-home care services in Australia. This research explored the perspectives and experiences of parents whose children were removed due to protective concerns in Newcastle and the Hunter - about their contact with legal, child protection and out of home care services. This research report was finalised and launched in February 2017.


Qualifications

  • 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

Keywords

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

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
180113 Family Law 30
180121 Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession 35
220104 Human Rights and Justice Issues 35

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
Newcastle Law School
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2013 -  Membership - International Society of Family Law International Society of Family Law
Australia
1/01/2012 -  Membership - Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
Australia
1/01/2009 -  Membership - Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association
Australia
1/01/2008 -  Membership - Greater Newcastle Family Law Pathways Network Greater Newcastle Family Law Pathways Network
Australia
1/01/2007 -  Membership - Newcastle Law Society Newcastle Law Society
Australia
1/01/2007 -  Membership - Family Law Section, Law Council of Australia Family Law Section, Law Council of Australia
Australia
1/01/2004 -  Membership - Australasian Law Teachers Association Australasian Law Teachers Association
Australia
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Publications

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


Chapter (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Ross N, Ries NM, Meredith J, Campbell S, 'Local to Global: Incorporating Overseas Work and Study in the Law School Curriculum', The Globalisation of Higher Education - Developing Internationalised Education, Research and Practice, Palgrave McMillan, Australia 291-305 (2018) [B1]
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-74579-4
Co-authors Sher Campbell, Nola Ries
2016 Ross NM, 'Legal Representation of Children', Children and the Law in Australia, LexisNexis Butterworths, Australia 587-613 (2016)
2014 Ross 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-authors Sher Campbell, Ann Apps
2008 Ross NM, 'Legal representation of children', Children and the Law in Australia, LexisNexis, Chatswood, New South Wales 544-573 (2008) [B1]
Show 1 more chapter

Journal article (12 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Anderson JL, Ross N, 'A Restorative City for New South Wales - Could Newcastle be a Model?', Journal of Judicial Administration, 27 74-91 (2018) [C1]
Co-authors John Anderson
2018 Ross NM, Fernando M, 'Stifled Voices: Hearing children¿s objections in Hague Child Abduction Convention cases in Australia', International Journal of Law Policy and the Family, 2018 (2018)
2018 Ross NM, Johnston L, Cocks J, Stoker L, 'Evidence-based law and practice with disadvantaged populations: Perspectives of parents involved in child protection proceedings', Newcastle Law Review, 12 23-41 (2018) [C1]
Co-authors Lou Johnston
2016 Ross NM, Cashmore J, 'Adoption reforms New South Wales style: A comparative look', Australian Journal of Family Law, 30 51-75 (2016) [C1]
2016 Ross NM, James C, 'Did he ever hit you? Exploring the attitudes of lawyers in the assessment of the seriousness of threats and violent histories in domestic violence cases', Australian Journal of Family Law, 30 205-239 (2016) [C1]
Co-authors Colin James
2013 Ross 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]
DOI 10.1093/lawfam/ebt009
Citations Web of Science - 1
2013 Ross N, 'Children's Lawyers: "Seeing" children', New Zealand Law Review, 2013 409-427 (2013) [C1]
2013 Freeman 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]
Citations Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Richard Fletcher, Emily Freeman, Jennifer Stgeorge
2012 Ross NM, 'Independent children's lawyers: Relational approaches to children's representation', Australian Journal of Family Law, 26 1-26 (2012) [C1]
2012 Ross NM, 'The Dad Factor [Book review]', Australian Journal of Family Law, 26 280 (2012) [C3]
2006 Ross NM, Finlay-Jones JA, 'Peer Mentoring for Law Students - Improving the First Year Advocacy Experience', The Law Teacher, 40 22-38 (2006) [C1]
DOI 10.1080/03069400.2006.9993195
2005 Ross NM, 'Images of children: agency, art 12 and models for legal representation.', Australian Journal of Family Law, 19 94-111 (2005) [C1]
Show 9 more journal articles

Conference (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Anderson J, Ross N, 'The Second Step: Pathways to Building a Restorative City', Burlington, Vermont, USA (2018)
Co-authors John Anderson
2017 Anderson JL, Ross N, 'A Restorative City for New South Wales - Could Newcastle be a Model?', Sydney, NSW, Australia (2017)
Co-authors John Anderson
2015 Blakemore TJ, Howard A, McCarthy S, Ross N, 'Interprofessional Work Integrated Learning : Exploring Opportunities for Social Innovation in Australian Tertiary Education', Kyoto , Japan (2015)
Co-authors Tamara Blakemore, Shaun Mccarthy, Amanda Howard
2012 Ross 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]
2011 Ross 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]
2011 Ross 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]
2011 Ross 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-authors Sher Campbell, Ann Apps
2010 Ross 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]
2009 Ross 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]
2005 Ross 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]
2004 Ross N, 'Building Bridges: a peer mentoring program', Conference Proceedings Crossing Boundaries Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference, Darwin (2004) [E2]
Show 8 more conferences

Report (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Ross N, Cocks J, Johnston L, Stoker L, '¿No voice, no opinion, nothing¿: Parent experiences when children are removed and placed in care', 75 (2017)
Co-authors Lou Johnston
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 12
Total funding $248,777

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


20183 grants / $147,728

Early Career Researcher HDR Scholarship$106,728

Funding body: The University of Newcastle

Funding body The University of Newcastle
Scheme Early Career Researcher HDR Scholarship: Research Advantage
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2021
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

New Columbo Plan Mobility Grant$33,000

This grant will support an international placement for ten law students in Cambodia, in 2018, following a similar and successful trip in 2016. Students fly to Phnom Penh, where they visit academics and students of the Law Faculty at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, NGOs, justice institutions and museums. Students then have an internship in an NGO in Siem Reap that provides support/services to local communities, women, children and young people in relation to legal issues such as domestic violence, drug charges, children in prisons and institutional care, and juvenile justice in Siem Reap.

Funding body: New Colombo Plan Student Mobility Project, Australian Government

Funding body New Colombo Plan Student Mobility Project, Australian Government
Scheme New Colombo Plan 2018 Mobility Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON N

Newcastle as a Restorative City$8,000

Funding body: Ian Potter Foundation

Funding body Ian Potter Foundation
Project Team Professor Tania Sourdin, Doctor Nicola Ross, Associate Professor John Anderson
Scheme Conference Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo G1700771
Type Of Funding C3112 - Aust Not for profit
Category 3112
UON Y

20173 grants / $37,712

Restorative justice initiatives in the Hunter and Newcastle’s proclamation as a Restorative City$29,712

Funding body: NED Foundation

Funding body NED Foundation
Project Team Doctor Nicola Ross, Professor Tania Sourdin
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2018
GNo G1701082
Type Of Funding C3112 - Aust Not for profit
Category 3112
UON Y

Deans Research Excellence Award (Law)$5,000

Employment of a graduate law student (Ryan McGowan) for research assistance with publications.

Funding body: Newcastle Law School

Funding body Newcastle Law School
Scheme Dean’s Research Excellence Award
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Conference grant to present at 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights Dublin$3,000

Presentation on Hearing Children’s Objections in Hague Child Abduction Cases in Australia—Dr Nicola Ross, Dr Michelle Fernando

Funding body: Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle
Scheme Conference funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20162 grants / $37,000

New Columbo Plan Mobility Grant$33,000

This project provided an international placement for ten 4th and 5th year law students in Cambodia, in 2016. Students flew to Phnom Penh, where they visited academics and students of the Law Faculty at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, NGOs, justice institutions and museums. Students then had a 3 week internship in an NGO that provides support and legal services to women, children and young people in relation to legal issues such as domestic violence, children in prisons and institutional care, and juvenile justice in Siem Reap.

Funding body: New Colombo Plan Student Mobility Project, Australian Government

Funding body New Colombo Plan Student Mobility Project, Australian Government
Project Team

Sher Campbell

Scheme New Columbo Plan Mobility Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON N

Teaching & Learning Seed Grant 2016: Evaluating the internationalisation of law students’ learning$4,000

Funding body: Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Nicola Ross, Nola Ries, Sher Campbell, Jacquie Svenson, Daniel Matas, Tim Connor, Kevin Sobel-Read, Katherine Lindsay

Scheme Teaching and Learning Seed Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20152 grants / $12,292

Parents’ perspectives on support/legal services after having a child removed and placed in out of home care$8,292

Funding body: Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Nicola Ross, Ms Lou Johnston (Social Work, UoN) Ms Jessica Cocks (Life Without Barriers) Ms Lynette Stoker (FAC, UoN)

Scheme Faculty Research Project Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Community Engagement Impact Case Study grant$4,000

Influencing policy and practice: How lawyers work with children in family law, child protection and criminal law.

Funding body: Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle
Scheme Faculty of Business and Law Community Impact Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20071 grants / $12,000

Peer Mentoring Program for first year law students$12,000

Funding body: Centre for Teaching and Learning, The University of Newcastle

Funding body Centre for Teaching and Learning, The University of Newcastle
Project Team

Mrs Katherine Lindsay and Ms Nicola Ross

Scheme Centre for Teaching & Learning Research Grant 2009
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2007
Funding Finish 2007
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

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 body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Nicola Ross
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2005
Funding Finish 2005
GNo G0184988
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Projects

Newcastle as a Restorative City 2016 -

To transform a city into a restorative city where restorative practices are implemented broadly to restore damaged relationships and manage social and community challenges across all sectors of the city involves a change in attitudes at multiple levels (personal, institutional, city) to support respectful dialogue and a preference for social inclusion and restoration where individual or institutional harm has occurred to individuals in the community. This often goes hand in hand with the development of restorative justice programs and restorative practices implemented in schools and other community organisations. Although other cities, including Canberra, have been pursuing similar goals and present important learning opportunities in relation to their various strategies, it is clear that restorative cities cannot be transplanted. Such cities must be built and grow in the context of their particular demography, citizenry, strengths and challenges.

Newcastle is the seventh largest city in Australia, with a population of over 160,000 people. Although it is experiencing urban renewal, there are questions about whether social and cultural renewal will co-occur with the much-needed economic renewal of the city. There are various ‘restorative-type’ practices occurring in different organisations and sectors of the city but there is limited sharing of experiences and strategies. We will consider the synergies existing and developing in Newcastle to progress the vision of a restorative city together with the inevitable barriers and scepticism associated with such significant social and cultural change. Even in the face of many significant hurdles to be overcome, we are optimistic that the project will gather momentum and incrementally move towards the ultimate vision of a restorative city. 

The research team is comprised of:

  1. Dr Nicola Ross – Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Law School. Well respected and high-profile researcher in relation to child protection and issues affecting family cohesion and welfare in Australia and international contexts. She has published widely on the legal constructs of children and their voices in autonomous decision-making.
  2. Dr John Anderson – Associate Professor, Newcastle Law School. Leading and experienced criminal law and justice scholar who principally researches and publishes in the areas of sentencing and evidence. His scholarship has an overarching concern with equity and fairness in the criminal justice system. He has effectively collaborated with various scholars and practitioners both in Australia and internationally.

This project has so far resulted in two conference presentations, one peer review journal article and will be hosting an international symposium over two days in June 2018.

Grants

A Restorative City for New South Wales: Could Newcastle be a Model?

Funding body: Nurturing Evolutionary Development Inc (NED Foundation)

Funding body Nurturing Evolutionary Development Inc (NED Foundation)
Description

A restorative city is one in which restorative justice and restorative practices are implemented widely throughout the life of the city. Restorative justice has traditionally been associated with criminal justice systems, where techniques such as victim-offender mediations, restorative justice conferencing and re-integrative shaming are employed. These techniques bring the offender, victim, community members and other interested parties together to discuss the offending, and propose ways forward which heal the victim and the community, while reintegrating the offender into the community. Restorative cities go further by introducing restorative practices throughout the community: in education, in social services, in law enforcement, and in workplaces. Mediations, conferences and relationship-building exercises are used to encourage the resolution of disputes and disagreements through communication, to address inappropriate behaviour, and to promote a caring and inclusive culture.

Restorative cities have many positive impacts in the community. The introduction of restorative justice into criminal systems has resulted in less offending, less recidivism and greater participant satisfaction with the process by all parties including those offended against. In schools, students learn how to build relationships, solve disputes and understand other points of view. This leads to higher attendance, improved educational outcomes and improved school culture. Workplaces that engage with restorative practices are more productive. Restorative cities are safer, happier, hopeful places where community spirit is restored and the social fabric of the city transformed.

Mary Porter AM recently moved to the Newcastle area. Mary is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, who is committed to community development. She played a pivotal role in the movement to transform Canberra into a Restorative City. Mary had a similar vision for the transformation of Newcastle and approached Newcastle Law School to partner with her to undertake this. Newcastle Law School’s newly appointed Dean, Professor Sourdin is an international expert in dispute resolution. Associate Professor John Anderson, who teaches evidence and criminal law, and Dr Nicola Ross, who teaches family and child law, have long-standing interests in restorative justice and practices, as does Shaun McCarthy, Director of the University of Newcastle Legal Centre.

Newcastle has pockets of disadvantage in relation to unemployment, income, education, housing, child welfare, and criminal justice. It has recently faced challenges due to the erosion of traditional industry & employment opportunities. While plans are underway for urban renewal in the city’s CBD, Newcastle is also in need of social, cultural and economic renewal. A significant contribution to this broad renewal could be made through Newcastle becoming a restorative city.

The support of key stakeholders is required to achieve the transformation of Newcastle into a restorative city. In other restorative cities, these stakeholders include community members from the criminal justice system, government, education, health, business, and community welfare. Assembling a task force to carry the project forward is the first step. Co-ordination with key stakeholders is required to introduce restorative practices throughout the community.

Other restorative cities have commenced by introducing restorative practices into organisations that work with children and young people, such as schools, child and community welfare organisations, and the youth justice system. This strategy aims to ensure all children become experts in restorative practices, to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are able to participate in strong, inclusive communities, and are ready to face the many challenges undoubtedly ahead.

Scheme Community Project Grant

Newcastle as a Restorative City

Funding body: Ian Potter Foundation

Funding body Ian Potter Foundation
Project Team Professor Tania Sourdin, Doctor Nicola Ross, Associate Professor John Anderson
Scheme Conference Grant

Publications

Anderson JL, Ross N, 'A Restorative City for New South Wales - Could Newcastle be a Model?', Journal of Judicial Administration, 27 74-91 (2018) [C1]

Collaborators

Name Organisation
Doctor Nicola Mary Ross University of Newcastle
Professor Tania Michelle Sourdin University of Newcastle

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News

New approach to child protection needed: report

February 21, 2017

A parent and family inclusive approach to child protection and foster care is urgently needed in Australia, a report to be launched today will recommend.

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

Dr Nicola Ross

Position

Senior Lecturer
Newcastle Law School
Faculty of Business and Law

Contact Details

Email nicola.ross@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5871
Fax (02) 4921 6931

Office

Room X-530
Building NeW Space
Location City Campus

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