Castan Centre Five Year Policy Plan

At a time of growing uncertainty and resurgent nationalism both here and abroad, the importance of a strong voice with an ambitious agenda to improve human rights is greater than ever. The Castan Centre has played an out sized role in shaping human rights law, making over 150 detailed policy reform proposals for government and international bodies, and helping to change dozens of laws and policies. Now, we have crafted a compelling vision for a world where human rights are respected and protected to allow people to live their lives with dignity and respect.


We leverage our expertise like few other university centres: our twenty world-renowned Monash Law academics volunteer their time to appear before parliamentary inquiries, write policy papers, meet with government officials and appear in the media.

Our Policy Manager consults with our often time-poor academics and then authors much of our policy work to create lasting change.

We are moving from reactive to proactive: our growing policy unit enables us to be more proactive by identifying needs that governments may be neglecting and working to address them. Right now, we are:

  • Investigating how Victoria’s education system fails children with disability.
  • Mapping laws permitting excessive force in prisons and other “closed environments”.
  • Working to ensure that all Australian state and territory expunge convictions for consensual gay sex.

We work with leading policy makers and local communities: we have strong government relationships and excellent business, academic and civil society networks here and overseas. We know who is doing what and who to pick up the phone to.

For example, we work closely with Victoria’s Department of Education on our disability project and we train Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff.

We also work in local communities to better understand the effects of human rights law:

  • We mentor and work closely with Indigenous Monash students.
  • Our Indigenous prisoner mentoring club connects Indigenous prisoners with Indigenous university students.
  • Our academics conduct research in remote Indigenous Australia, among dispossessed landowners in Cambodia and with people combatting human trafficking in South East Asia.

We are the bridge between international law and local law: we are regularly invited to make submissions to UN bodies that are shaping international law, knowing that those laws eventually help to improve local laws. For instance, we are using the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners to evaluate Australia’s various detention regimes, and our Human Rights Translated: A Business Reference Guide, is used by businesses around the world.


Our policy program runs on the strength of a single Policy Manager employed one day per week.  We have the expertise, structure, passion and reputation to achieve great things but we need a major increase in funding. We receive strong in-kind support, financial oversight and governance from the University so that every cent of your gift goes towards achieving our vision. To achieve our goals, the Centre requires two full-time staff members, funding to retain current staff and support costs totalling approximately $295,000 per year on top of current funding.


Over the next five years, we will address the key areas detailed below. These areas have been chosen because they reflect both urgent priorities for society and the Centre’s academic strengths: