Dr Katherine McFarlane holds a Bachelor of Arts/Law from the University of Sydney, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, Sydney and a PhD in Law at UNSW. Her thesis examined 'Care-criminalisation': the involvement of children in out of home care in the NSW criminal justice system and was featured on the ABC's Lateline program to support the contention that 'the child protection and foster care system in Australia is serving as an incubator for a lifetime of crime, violence and prison'.
Kath has over twenty years of policy and practical experience across bureaucracy, academia and politics. As a law student she established a pro bono legal advice service for incarcerated women and later was an Official Visitor to NSW prisons. Admitted as a solicitor in NSW in 1996, she worked as a criminal lawyer and was the principal solicitor at the University of Technology's Community Law and Legal Research Centre from 1998-2000. She led the No New Women's Prison Coalition, an international coalition of prison reform advocates, gain a Parliamentary Inquiry into the prison system and is a former member of the NSW Corrections Health Inmate Advisory Group and the NSW Corrective Services' Women's Advisory Council.
Kath was the Executive Officer both of the NSW Sentencing Council under former Police Royal Commissioner Judge Wood and of the NSW Children's Court. From 2011-2015 she was one of the few female Chiefs of Staff in the NSW Government, where she managed the political office of Minister Brad Hazzard across the portfolios of Planning and Infrastructure, Juvenile Justice, Corrections, Attorney General and Family and Community Services and Social Housing.
Through an exploration of the processes and policies of the NSW child welfare system, this project explores the manufacturing of delinquency and children's involvement in the criminal justice system (termed 'care-criminalisation') as experienced by a cohort of children in the NSW Children's Court criminal jurisdiction. The project identifies:
With CSU colleagues Associate Professor Alison Gerard, Dr Andrew McGrath and Dr Emma Colvin, Dr McFarlane is leading a research project which examines the criminalisation of children in residential care (part of a broader out of home care base). The project involves interviewing case-workers, police, lawyers and policy-makers to determine why criminalisation is occurring and what might overcome it.
Masters LAW550 Legal Research Dissertation: "Gaari milga ngandal guugu, galmba bubu" –Don't forget language and country – the experience of assimilation.
Dr Kath McFarlane has been on the management committees of several human rights and social justice organisations, including: