Congratulations Law School Graduates- Dr Chris McLaughlin’s Story

Dr Chris McLaughlin

The Autumn graduation is on this Friday 3rd of May and Saturday 4th of May. The Science, Agriculture, Business and Law awards will take place on the Friday. The Law School will have a total of 73 students graduating with awards. This includes 57 Bachelor students and three HDR students. One of those HDR students graduating will be Dr Chris McLaughlin.

Chris completed his Masters of Laws with UNE School of Law via online study. This Friday, Chris will graduate with his Doctor of Philosophy. Chris will remember the UNE Law School as a place where he received great support and guidance, particularly from his supervision team which included Professor Paul Martin, Professor Mark Perry and Dr Jacqueline Williams.

Seawall Saibai

Seawall Saibai

Since being admitted as a Solicitor on the Roll of Practitioners of the Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court of Australia in 2007 and commencing legal practice, Chris has worked across many varied industries in legal and senior management roles, from Law, to Local Government to his current role as Chief Operating Officer with My Pathway in the employment services sector. Chris applies his legal and senior management experience to help communities meet their core needs; whether resolving complex legal problems, the provision of essential municipal services, or getting people job-ready and into rewarding life-long employment. After all, Chris believes it is our communities that raise, nurture, educate, inspire, empower and define us. In his PhD thesis, Chris draws upon his deep respect for community identity.



In Chris’ PhD, he explores the legal and institutional mechanisms that may better support Torres Strait Islanders to protect their cultural secrets. Chris has a strong connection to the Torres Strait Islands. After migrating from Sheffield in the UK in the early 90s as a child, Chris undertook much of his schooling in Cairns, Far North Queensland and upon graduating, enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree at James Cook University in Cairns. Many years later, following a few trips to the Torres Strait for work, in a remote region situated between the tip of Cape York, Australia and the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, he accepted a job as Chief Legal Officer of a Local Government for the outer island communities, and relocated to Thursday Island with his wife where he stayed for a decade.

Within Chris’ PhD abstract he argues, ‘When Indigenous people lose control of cultural secrets they are also likely to lose cultural identity, autonomy and power to control their own lives. Australian law has largely proven ill-equipped to protect Indigenous cultural secrets’. In his PhD, Chris explores the notion that, ‘…Native Title law is poised to emerge as the leading contender, best-equipped to provide necessary legal protection, applying a regime which is neither an institution of the common law nor a form of common law tenure but nevertheless recognised by common law’. In 10 years’ time, Chris sees himself continuing to contribute towards community-led solutions.

The UNE Law School congratulates Dr Chris McLaughlin and all graduands receiving their awards this week.

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