Never Again or Never? Environmental Justice in Australia

Karijini National Park in the Hamersley Ranges by Philip Schubert, via Shutterstock ID-726546547
Wednesday 8 December 2021
4.00 - 5.30pm (AEDT)

Online (Zoom)


The University of Sydney Philosophy Society (PhilSoc)

PhilSoc in partnership with Sydney Environment Institute present a discussion on the legal and philosophical limits to environmental justice in Australia.

The title is inspired by that of the Interim Report (December 2020) of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia on the destruction of the Juukan Gorge by Rio Tinto mining operations. The event is a collaboration between the Sydney Environment Institute and the USyd Philosophy Society (PhilSoc) and aims to explore the socio-legal barriers to environmental justice in Australia, with comparisons to other countries most welcome.

A panel of researchers who sit at the intersection of law and Indigenous rights will discuss experiences of local communities, especially First Nations, with formal justice systems; access to justice; and the ability of the Courts to prevent or redress environmental wrongs.


Nicole Graham is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Law School. She teaches and researches in the fields of property law and theory, and legal geography. Nicole has written on the relationship between law, environment and culture with a particular focus on property rights, natural resource regulation and the concept of place.

Samuel Naylor (Chair) is in his final year of a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sydney, having finished a Bachelor of Economics in 2019. He is also the former Secretary of the University of Sydney Philosophy Society. Sam’s interest in philosophy was properly enlivened when he went on exchange to Paris at the end of 2018, taking courses in political thought and ethics. Since then, he has sought to explore how philosophy can play an important role in our thinking about everyday experiences and problems: here focussing on the climate, the courts and First Nations peoples.

Jakelin Troy is the Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at the University of Sydney. Professor Troy’s research focuses on documenting, describing and reviving Indigenous languages, including her new focus on the Indigenous languages of Pakistan, including Saraiki of the Punjab and Torwali of Swat. She is interested in the use of Indigenous research methodologies and community-engaged research practises. Professor Troy is an Aboriginal Australian and her community is Ngarigu of the Snowy Mountains in southeastern Australia.

Sara Leon Spesny an Academic Fellow in criminology in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. She interested in the ways institutions of the State seek to manage, control and discipline historically marginalized populations. Her research has focused on the police, violence, migration (notably undocumented migrants), human rights, postcolonial (dis)order and the urban/symbolic borderlands of the Latin American city. Sara has carried out fieldwork in Central and South America. She obtained her PhD at the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France (2020). She worked under the supervision of Prof. Didier Fassin (Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, USA). She has been a member of the Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Enjeux Sociaux (IRIS) since 2013. Sara has also collaborated with projects involving indigenous rights and sex workers.

Gemma Viney is currently completing a PhD in the Department of Government and International Relations and is a member of the Unsettling Recourses research cluster at the Sydney Environment Institute. Her work examines the Australian experience of environmental justice. Despite significant mobilisation around environmental justice both in the US and internationally, scholars have not yet observed what can be described as an Australian environmental justice movement. While some Indigenous communities, climate activists, and local organisations have used the term, the majority of conversations around Australian environmental justice are currently happening within the academic sphere.