Dr Rachel Carson is a socio-legal researcher with expertise in family law and qualitative research about family law disputes. After practising as a family lawyer, Rachel worked as a researcher in family law at the Melbourne Law School (University of Melbourne) and was awarded a Melbourne Research Scholarship to undertake her PhD in this field of research at the University of Melbourne.
Since joining the Family Law and Family Violence team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies in June 2012, Rachel has worked on a range of significant family law research projects, including the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study and the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments Project. Rachel was the lead researcher for the recently completed Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, and the Direct Cross-examination in Family Law Matters Study. Rachel is currently the project lead for the Evaluation of the Small Claims Property Pilot in the Federal Circuit Court and she is also working on the Evaluation the Legal Aid Commission Trial of Lawyer-assisted Property Mediation. Both mixed-method projects have been commissioned by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department.
Rachel and the team are also undertaking mixed-method research investigating compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders. This important research has been commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, as a priority project under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.
Rachel has also contributed to the Institute’s elder abuse scoping studies and the Elder Abuse National Research Program and she is currently working on the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, commissioned by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department. Additionally, Rachel has contributed to research undertaken for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and to the work of the Institute’s Australian Gambling Research Centre.
Rachel is a consulting editor for the Family Law Review journal and has represented the Institute in various capacities, including at the Senate Estimates Hearings and as the AIFS observer on the Family Law Council, a body that provides policy advice on family law to the Australian Attorney-General.