How is addiction constituted in Australian law, and how does this compare with Canadian law? This is the focus of Dr Kate Seear’s Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship, which is entitled ‘Addiction in the Australian legal system: A sociological analysis’. A SSAC Adjunct Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Law at Monash University, Kate has recently arrived in Toronto to commence work on the Canadian arm of her data collection. The work involves a series of in-depth interviews with Canadian lawyers exploring how they approach addiction in their work. The interviews also explore legal strategies in cases involving addiction, and the legal, ethical and political implications of pursuing particular strategic courses of action in legal proceedings.
It’s an important time to be studying Canada because federal support has recently been granted to plans to build three new supervised drug consumption rooms. Locals are now debating whether to act on this support. Canada has introduced a number of reforms of its drug laws in recent years, and Australia may have much to learn from their approach.
Kate’s trip will also involve presenting some of her preliminary findings. On 14th July, she will speak at the International Legal Ethics Conference at Fordham University in New York.
Overall, Kate’s research project explores how addiction features in law across three domains: (1) legislation, (2) case law, and (3) lawyers’ own accounts of how they deal with addiction in their work. The research is due for completion in early 2019, and updates will appear on this site.
Kate wishes to thank the Canadian and Australian lawyers who have agreed to be interviewed for her research, the Australian Research Council for funding the study, the National Drug Research Institute and Professor Suzanne Fraser for funding the pilot research that helped build the foundations for this project, and the project advisory board.