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Dr Nicola Ross

Senior Lecturer

Newcastle Law School

Career Summary


Dr Nicola Ross lectures and writes on children and law, children’s lawyers,children’s participation, family law, crime, child protection, adoption and inter-professional collaboration. She also writes on study abroad experiences.

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 inter-professional education and collaboration between lawyers and social workers, children and young people's participation in child protection proceedings, peer mentoring and simulations in legal education, and internationalising the curriculum through international intensive study and WiL (work integrated learning) initiatives. Current service roles I undertake are in research and international education.

I coordinate Family Law and Child Law (a dual badge subject taught to law students and social work students) and have coordinated Criminal Law and Procedure (JD). In 2016 I am taking students to Cambodia to undertake a WiL placement focused on international child and family law. 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 two PhD students and have supervised eight Honours students since 2010 in relation to family and child law topics. These include: PhD supervision: Nicole Mansergh (enrolled 2015) Vania Holt (enrolled 2016) 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?' and Breanna Pickard.

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 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  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 from 2010 to 2014.


  • 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
  • international WiL study
  • simulated clients in legal education

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

Academic appointment

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


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

Chapter (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 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 (2017)
Co-authors 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 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 (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Ross NM, Cashmore J, 'Adoption reforms New South Wales style: A comparative look', Australian Journal of Family Law, 30 51-75 (2016) [C1]
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]
Co-authors Emily Freeman, Richard Fletcher, 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 5 more journal articles

Conference (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
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 (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 (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 (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 (2011) [E2]
Co-authors 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 (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 (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 (2005) [E2]
2004 Ross N, 'Building Bridges: a peer mentoring program', Conference Proceedings Crossing Boundaries Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference (2004) [E2]
Show 5 more conferences

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Total current UON EFTSL


Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD A Federal Anti-Corruption Commission: Is There Really A Need?
PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle


Dr Nicola Ross

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


Room MC 166
Building McMullin Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308