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Constitutional Reform Unit

Research and analysis about constitutional reform

Our reputable thinktank underpins and informs public debate about proposals for constitutional reform in Australia.

The Constitutional Reform Unit was established in 2011 to provide objective research and analysis about constitutional reform proposals in Australia at the Commonwealth and state levels. It draws on scholarship across Sydney Law School and the University more widely to provide expert analysis to the public and the media on constitutional reform proposals, to raise the level of public debate on such issues in Australia.

We are a non-partisan body that does not advocate or oppose particular reforms. Instead, we aim to publish rigorous reports that:

  • explain the background to reform proposals
  • outline the history and operation of current constitutional provisions
  • set out comparative material as to how such matters are dealt with in similar countries
  • explain the options for reform
  • analyse how they would fit in with the rest of the Constitution and what their likely consequences may be.

The reports published on this site are intended to provide a resource for the media and the public, as well as for the advocates and critics of reform. The objective is not to achieve or prevent constitutional reforms but to raise the level of public debate so that constitutional reform issues can be decided on their merits, not on misconceptions and incorrect assumptions.

We analyse and report on reform proposals at both the Commonwealth and state levels, including proposals for formal amendments to the written constitutions of the Commonwealth and the states and constitutional reforms. These changes are in the broader context of reforms to the institutions of government – the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary.

We also undertake joint research projects with similar overseas bodies, sharing Australian expertise and comparative material with other countries undergoing constitutional revisions and reform.

Current projects

The Constitutional Reform Unit is currently engaged in preparing reports on the following constitutional reform proposals:

  1. the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a preamble to the Commonwealth Constitution, and
  2. proposals for Australia to become a republic.

Future projects

Future projects of the Constitutional Reform Unit may include consideration of:

  1. federalism reforms, and
  2. statehood for the Northern Territory – how it might be achieved.

Members of the Constitutional Reform Unit have expertise in a wide area of constitutional law and public law, including:

  • parliament
  • electoral law
  • executive powers
  • constitution building
  • constitutional rights
  • separation of powers
  • direct democracy
  • constitutional amendment
  • state constitutions and sub-national constitutions
  • comparative constitutional law
  • constitutional history
  • federalism.

The Constitutional Reform Unit welcomes applications from students interested in undertaking postgraduate studies in these areas, particularly in relation to constitutional reform proposals.

Conference papers

CRU Symposium on Indigenous constitutional recognition

Constitutional reform reports

Constitutional reform commentary

Parliamentary submissions

Other publications of members of the Constitutional Reform Unit

For individual publications, please visit our members' academic profiles:

Internships are offered periodically and will be advertised in the law student newsletter. For more information on internships, visit Resources - Sydney Law Students (in Canvas).

Our experts

Anne Twomey

Professor Anne Twomey, Director

Visit Professor Twomey's academic profile.

Professor Helen Irving

Professor Helen Irving

Visit Professor Irving's academic profile.