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Environmental Justice for Local Communities

Environmental Justice for Local Communities

Victoria’s new duty to protect the environment and its plastics communities

Dr Brad Jessup explored the meaning of environmental justice in Victoria at a time when it was struggling to develop a strategy for the state. This was through the understanding of how the law is used in community encounters.

How does Victoria’s new Environment Protection Act and its general duty realise environmental justice?

How does it support vulnerable and relatively disadvantaged communities to realize environmental and human health improvement?

Dr Brad Jessup explored the meaning of environmental justice in Victoria at a time that the Victorian Government was struggling to formulate an environmental justice strategy. This was done through the understanding of and experience gained from community encounters with law. Environmental justice was and is a concept that brings to the forefront relative disadvantage and vulnerability in the minds, especially when it comes to avoiding environmental risks or harms. Brad presented the application of environmental justice in Australia to legal controversies throughout Australia in his award-winning thesis entitled A New Justice for Environmental Law.

The Victorian Parliament has since established a general duty to protect our environment in its pollution laws. The duty was based on a review of laws that were criticised for creating environmental injustices such as the one Dr Jessup outlined, particularly for communities that host polluting industries. It was highlighted in the aftermath the Hazelwood coal-fires.

Answering the phone law student activismBrad and Melbourne Law School students set out to assess the limits and potential reach of the duty of environmental justice in the contexts of Victoria’s plastics industry.

The plastics industry now faces indirect regulation. Plastic items are bannedPlastic waste trade restrictions have left little opportunity for plastic recycling. This has led to a crisis that affects all of them, including their carrier bags. Brad and the law students argue that Victoria’s ‘plastics communities’ must be better protected from environmental risks if the duty of environmental protection is to mean anything in the state.

Their research is found in a report entitled Synthetic statutes: Unwrapping the new environmental duty within Victoria’s ‘plastics communities’.

University of Melbourne Research Team

  • Dr Brad Jessup Melbourne Law School

Research assistants

  • Miranda Aprile
  • Alexander Laurence

Virtual presentation: Introducing the Student Law Clinics Global Day of Action for Climate Justice – Plastics

Foundational Materials and Outputs

Thesis: A New Justice for Environmental Law Australia

Article: ‘Trajectories of Environmental Justice – From Histories to Futures and the Victorian Environmental Justice Agenda

Article: ‘Environmental justice as spatial- and scalar just: A regional rubbish facility or a local dump out of place?

Presentations at relevant conferences:

  • ‘Layers of Consent. (Seeing Consent. Denying Consent. Disguising Consent. The Kimba, SA Nuclear Waste Proposal’, presented at Institute of Australian Geographers Legal Geography Online Workshop, University of New South Wales; 9 July 2020 (with Cobi Calyx and Rebecca Colvin).
  • ‘Places of Justice in Australian Environmental Law: Lessons from Victorian and NSW Coal-mining Towns’, presented at RegNet, The Australian National University, 30 April 2019.
  • ‘Gender and Justice from the Environmental Frontline’ presented at the Frontiers of Environmental Law Colloquium, Queensland University of Technology, 14 February 2019.
  • ‘“Local crusades” across decades: Of gender, environmental justice and law’, presented at Environmental Justice Conference 2017, University of Sydney, 8 November 2017.
  • ‘Clearing the Air: Australia, environmental justice and ‘toxic’ pollution’, presented at Environmental Justice Australia, Melbourne, Australia, 8 July 2014.

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