New ideas for a fairer system
Associate Professor Thalia Anthony’s commitment to social justice began early on in life.
“I was brought up in a family that believes we absolutely have a responsibility to stand up where there's injustice, so for me it is just second nature,” she explains. “The injustice is so apparent; how could you not want to contribute in whatever way you can?”
The impact of Thalia’s deep commitment to equity and justice is clearly visible, both in her activism and her work as an academic in the UTS Faculty of Law. Marrying historical and theoretical perspectives in criminal law and Indigenous justice with a practical law reform approach, her body of work shapes policy development and public debate to drive real and lasting change.
Thalia’s Australian Research Council-funded research into criminal sentencing for Indigenous women and Indigenous justice strategies that strengthen communities has marked her as a leader in her field, called upon regularly for media comment and as a policy expert on key panels. She says that authentically representing and reflecting the experiences of Indigenous people within the legal system is at the heart of addressing its limitations.
“I'm really concerned to not just look at what the criminal system does to Indigenous people but the role that Indigenous people have in their own cultural, social and emotional well-being,” she says.
Though Indigenous justice is a primary focus, Thalia’s research also delves into broader social justice issues, such as the criminalisation of poverty and homelessness, to better address the needs of the marginalised through alternatives to the criminal justice system. She believes that more effective outcomes arise from connecting with those impacted by her work and learning from their lived experiences, and her research is informed by fieldwork in Indigenous communities and partnerships with Indigenous organisations here and abroad. She has developed experiential teaching programs at UTS to produce a new, more culturally competent generation of graduates.
For Thalia, UTS’s commitment to Indigenous equity and social justice and her relationship with UTS Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research have created an ideal environment for her grow her scholarship and its impact.
“In terms of equity and social impact, UTS is so dynamic and open to new ideas and is deeply committed to furthering Indigenous capacity within the academe,” she says. “I feel like I’m in a space where what I'm doing in my work aligns with the university's values.”
UTS is so dynamic and open to new ideas and is deeply committed to furthering Indigenous capacity within the academe, I feel like I’m in a space where what I'm doing in my work aligns with the university's values.
Thalia says that the Faculty of Law tends to be an inclusive and multicultural space, where she has been supported as a woman, as a co-parent to two young children and as someone who sits outside the predominately male, Anglo-Celtic background often dominating the ranks of other law schools. She has also benefited from a number of university support programs, including a research re-establishment grant following maternity leave and funding for her family to accompany her on conference travel, but says the everyday environment has made all the difference.
“When faculties are hierarchical, women tend to be disadvantaged; we have a relatively flat structure here that's relatively inclusive, and I think women are strengthened by that. It’s a subtle difference, but it goes a long way towards helping women — particularly mothers of young children — feel that they have the same opportunities to advance as everyone else.”
Photographer: Andy Roberts