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Access to justice for disabled litigants in online justice processes

Primary supervisor

Reuben Kirkham


  • Genevieve Grant, Faculty of Law

Research area

Inclusive Technology

The Opportunity

We seek expressions of interest for a PhD scholarship in the Faculty of Information Technology and the Faculty of Law. This is an exciting opportunity to conduct research at the forefront of designing the justice system and to have a real impact on the lives of disabled people who interact with the justice system. The student would be supervised by both Dr Reuben Kirkham (Lecturer in Inclusive Technologies in the Faculty of Information Technology) and A/Prof Genevieve Grant (Director of the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation in the Faculty of Law). 

The Project

One implication of COVID-19 is to move much of the justice system online, with the result of rapidly digitizing the justice system and accelerating pre-existing modernisation agendas. Online justice presents a range of potential advantages and disadvantages for disabled litigants. For example, it means there may be no need to travel to a tribunal centre and cases can be dealt with and scheduled more quickly. On the other hand, online courts can carry a range of subtle accessibility barriers, which may reduce the chances of a disabled litigant receiving a fair outcome. This can be particularly so if a disabled litigant is less able to present their case, or has limited access to assistive technologies.

This project involves conducting empirical legal research which spans concerns in both digital technology and the design of justice systems. It involves engaging with a broad range of disabled people who are likely to access the justice system, as well as conducting ‘mock trials’ to gain empirical evidence on how the justice system could be supported using assistive technologies. Ultimately this project will involve identifying and evidencing a range of reasonable accommodations that are needed to fully include disabled litigants in online and digital justice processes. This will be an important contribution to access to justice for disabled litigants. 

The successful applicant will be provided with a PhD scholarship in the Faculty of Information Technology. They will be part of both the largest group of Assistive Technologies researchers in Australia, as well as the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation. 

Candidate requirements

The successful candidate will have:

A first or second class honours degree, and/or a Master’s degree in law (or another closely related discipline). 

Australian or New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency

Strong written and verbal communication skills

Familiarity and expertise with qualitative research and data analysis (or preparedness to develop these skills).

Research and/or practical experience relevant to the research topic, for example working in the disability legal sector. 

We would look favourably on applicants who have a lived experience of disability. 

Expressions of Interest

EOIs should comprise:

·       a cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant's suitability for and interest in the position

·       a brief (2-page) curriculum vitae, including a list of any published works

·       a full statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of relevant certified transcripts, and

·        contact details of two referees (preferably academic).

Expressions of interest (preferably in the form of a single PDF attachment to an email) and enquires should be directed to Dr Reuben Kirkham ( or Associate Professor Genevieve Grant (

The closing date for applications is Friday the 15th of October (at 5pm).


Project funding


Learn more about minimum entry requirements.