Ms Mary Spiers Williams

B.A. (Hons) USyd; LLB (Hons) USyd; GradDipLegPrac
Sub Dean Undergraduate Indigenous Studies, National Centre for Indigenous Studies &
College Arts & Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 3993

Areas of expertise

  • Criminal Law And Procedure 180110
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Law 180101
  • Law And Society 180119
  • Access To Justice 180102
  • Legal Institutions (Incl. Courts And Justice Systems) 180120

Research interests

Sociolegal studies (global perspectives on laws and societies), Criminal Law, Indigenous Law, Indigenous perspectives on State law, 'Culture' in legal discourse.


In 2019 Mary Spiers Williams accepted a joint appointment between the National Centre for Indigenous Studies and the College of Arts and Social Sciences as Subdean for Undergraduate Indigenous Studies. Mary will return full-time to the ANU Law School in 2022. Mary continues to teach Criminal Law there, and facilitates the at ANU College of Law's plan for action under the ANU Reconciliation Action Plan.

Mary first taught an undergraduate criminal law course in 1999. She has taught criminal law and procedure, advanced courses in criminal justice and sentencing, Indigenous peoples and law, youth law, criminology, penology, evidence, advocacy, and legal ethics at the ANU and other leading Australian universities. She guest lectures in numerous courses on sociolegal approaches to state law. She has also supervised the Youth Law Clinical Programme, a joint initiative of ANU COllege of Law and the ACT Legal AId Commission.

Prior to becoming a full-time academic, Mary was a criminology researcher, practiced criminal law in NSW and the NT in all jurisdictions, was senior policy officer in criminal law reform at the NSW Attorney General's Department, facilitated law and justice projects with and for Warlpiri people, and conducted community legal education in Warlpiri and other Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

She currently teaches Indigenous political, civil and legal rights in Australia and convenes the ANU's Undergraduate Indigenous Studies Programme at the ANU. She leads the Interdisciplinary Social Justice Research Hub.

Researcher's projects

Currently undertaking doctoral research into legal concepts of 'culture' and its impact on sentencing.

Available student projects

Available to supervise students seeking to undertake an Honours Specialisation in Australian Indigenous Studies (AINS:

Areas of expertise:  

  • Indigenous perspectives on research methdology
  • Social justice
  • The impact of State Law on First Nations peoples
  • Criminal Law (including sentencing and criminal justice processes) and Evidence Law 


Past student projects

Previous topics supervised include:

2018: Sienna Lake, 'Plurality of laws, plurality of punishments: An analysis of constraints on Northern Territory courts in considering punishment under Aboriginal legal systems'

2017: Zoe Neumeyer, 'The Hardening Effect Of Appellate Processes When Sending Youth To Detention. An analysis of judgements from the Northern Territory Supreme Court'

2016: Anna Boden, 'A critical analysis of the jurisprudence on the unfairness discretion: will section 90 be exercised to exclude an admission procured by police deceit?'

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  30 September 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers