10 questions with… Shireen Morris


Macquarie Law School’s Dr Shireen Morris recently secured philanthropic seed funding of $202,814 over two years to establish a new Radical Centre Reform Lab at the Law School.

The Reform Lab’s first project will progress research on Indigenous constitutional recognition through a First Nations constitutional voice. This marks the next phase after a decade of work by Dr Morris in this field, and demonstrates a growing cohort of multicultural Australians advocating alongside Indigenous people to achieve the aspirations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

1. Something you’d like staff to know about
With generous support from Foundation Donors, Henry and Marcia Pinskier, and in partnership with Indigenous policy organisation, Cape York Institute, I am starting up a Radical Centre Reform Lab at Macquarie Law School next year. This will involve an Indigenous Masters Scholarship and some exciting internship opportunities  – please share this with your students and networks.

2. Something you have recently accomplished
I was recently commissioned to write a report for International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) on international examples of mechanisms for Indigenous participation, consultation and representation in constitutional systems. This has just been published and is intended support the Indigenous delegates in the current Chilean constitutional design process.

I’ve also been writing about the government’s proposed anonymity reforms, in The Conversation and the SMH. I’m concerned this is rushed, back-to-front policy-making. More needs to be done to protect free speech and account for power imbalances between citizens and the state.

3. What you need to do your best work?
Many, many cups of English Breakfast tea and – if it’s cold – a heat pack on my legs!

4. The most impressive piece of equipment you use in your work
See aforementioned heat pack…(kidding!)

5. Something you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you
Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth. This book transformed my perspective on the economy and unemployment, by challenging conventional wisdom regarding budget deficits and responsible management of the economy. It made me realise that unemployment is a policy choice. It is unconscionable that we keep a ‘buffer stock’ of Australians unemployed, so the rest of us can enjoy stable prices. Our thinking needs to change. We need to realise we can achieve full employment in this country, and make it happen.

6. Your definition of success
I feel very proud after crafting a strong piece of writing. Whether it’s a legal journal article or an opinion piece.

7. What you like about where you live
I live in West Pennant Hills. It’s full of trees and birds: rosellas, cockies, galahs… it’s a beautiful, leafy area.

8. A personal quality you value in others
Open-mindedness to new ideas and different contributions, and willingness to collaborate. The ability to engage across political, ideological and cultural divides is becoming very rare in our increasingly tribal society. But to achieve substantive reform, we need to bridge divides. That’s when you find exciting ‘radical centre’ solutions.

9. Something you’re trying to do differently in 2021
Being new to Sydney, and given lockdown is finally over (hopefully) it would be great to go out more and explore the local areas, and meet new people – including Macquarie colleagues. It’s a challenge with an eight-month-old baby, but I need to get out more!

10. A moment you felt proud
When my latest book (my phD thesis from 2017) came out in 2020. It makes the case for A First Nations voice in the Australian Constitution, and was the product of around seven years of work on this topic with Cape York Institute.





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