Rachel Carson

Executive Manager

Family Law, Family Violence & Elder Abuse

Dr Rachel Carson is a Senior Research Fellow and Executive Manager/Program Lead of the Family Law, Family Violence and Elder Abuse Research Team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has twenty years’ experience undertaking socio-legal research focusing on the Australian family law system, including examining the intersections between the family law system and family violence, and particularly legislative, policy and practice reforms designed to improve the system.

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. Since joining the Institute in June 2012, Rachel has worked on a range of significant 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 Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, the Direct Cross-examination in Family Law Matters Study.

Rachel is currently leading the mixed-method evaluations of the Small Claims Property Pilot in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and the Evaluation of the Legal Aid Commission Trial of Lawyer-assisted Property Mediation. Rachel is managing a mixed-method research project investigating compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders, as well as the Institute’s contribution to the Future-proofing Safety – COVID 19 and Family Violence project. Rachel also manages Institute’s elder abuse research program, with the team recently completing the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. 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 (AGRC) and Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information hub.

Rachel has represented the Institute in various capacities, including at the Senate Estimates Hearings and as a recently appointed member of Family Law Council, an independent body of experts that provides advice on family law to the Australian Attorney-General.


LLB(Hons)(Melb), BA(Melb), PhD(Law)(Melb), Admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia.