BA/LLB (Hons), University of Melbourne
PhD, University of Melbourne
Melissa contributes to the fields of law and society; comparative constitutional law; and law and religion. Melissa is Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Project on "Constitutional Change in Authoritarian Regimes" (2018-2022). She runs the Southeast Asia Law & Policy Forum.
Melissa is the author of The Constitution of Myanmar (2019) (shortlisted for the Australian Legal Research Awards inaugural book award; see New Books Network podcast) and Law and Religion in Indonesia: Conflict and the Courts in West Java (2014). She has published in a range of peer-reviewed journals including Law & Society Review, Law & Social Inquiry, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and International Journal of Constitutional Law. She is the editor of several volumes, including Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (OUP 2023) and Women and the Judiciary in the Asia-Pacific (CUP 2021). In 2022, she won the Podgorecki Prize for outstanding scholarship of an early career socio-legal scholar, awarded by the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law, the International Sociological Association. She has also been awarded the Endeavour Australia Research Fellowship; the University of Indonesia Visiting Fellowship; and the University of Melbourne Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellowship.
Melissa has worked with local and international organisations with a focus on public law and legal education in Asia. She is the President of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (2023-2024), the peak academic body for Asian studies in Australia. She is also co-director with Theunis Roux of the project on Constitutionalism in the Global South.
2021-2023, Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade Sri Lanka Knowledge & Linkages for an Inclusive Economy Grant on 'Reimagining Vulnerability in the Light of COVID 19 in Sri Lanka, in partnership with Dr Mario Gomez, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka
2019-2020, Australia-ASEAN Council grant, ‘Fostering Women’s Empowerment through Digital Entrepreneurship’ with Felix Tan, Carmen Leong, Minako Sakai, Wing Wah Tham
2019, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung grant for workshop on Protecting Rights, Addressing Inequality: Constitutional Writs in Asia
2019, ASAA Workshop Grant for bursaries for students to attend the 'Women in Asia Conference' at UNSW
2019, Australian Academy of Humanities, grant to support the Early Career Workshop of the Women in Asia Conference at UNSW
2019, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung grant for workshop on the Women in the Legal Profession and Judiciary in Asia Panel Stream
2018-2021, ARC Discovery Grant, Chief Investigator, "Constitutional Change in Authoritarian Regimes: The Case of Myanmar"
2017-2019, UNSW IGD Myanmar Seed Funds, "Constitutional Reform and the Peace Process in Myanmar"
2016-2019, Asian Development Bank, Professional Legal Education in Corporate and Commercial Law in Myanmar
2016, New Colombo Plan funding for UNSW Myanmar Law Ambassadors Program (scholarships for law students).
2016-2017, ANU Indonesia Project Research Grants and UNSW Indonesia Seed Grant, with Dr Fritz Siregar, University of Indonesia, Jakarta. Project: ‘Administrative Justice in Indonesia’.
2016, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project, Workshops with the Constitutional Tribunal of Myanmar, (with T Roux).
2015-2018, Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project on Building Constitutionalism in Myanmar (with W Sadurski, T Roux, M Krygier and C Renshaw).
2015, Faculty Research Grant, Project: From Military Rule to Rule of Law in Myanmar; Early Career Grant; Faculty Workshop Support Scheme, UNSW Law: The Business of Transition in Myanmar
2014-2015, Harvard Law School's Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) Research Grant, Project: ‘Authority and Islam: An Ethnography of Fatwa in Myanmar’
2013-2014, Research & Conference Grant, Project: ‘Law, Governance & Minorities in Myanmar’; and Myanmar Law Reform Project Fund (for workshops in Myanmar), Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University of Singapore
2012–2013, Postdoctoral Research Support Funds, Law Faculty, National University of Singapore
2010, Melbourne Abroad Travelling Scholarship; MA Bartlett Research Scholarship Fund Competitive Funding; and Research Support Funds, the University of Melbourne
2022, Podgorecki Prize for outstanding scholarship of an early career socio-legal scholar, awarded by the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law, International Sociological Association.
2022, Visiting Scholars Scheme, Faculty of Law, University of Diponegoro (Semarang, Indonesia)
2021, Visiting Scholars Scheme, Faculty of Law, University of Brawijaya (Malang, Indonesia)
2020, Shortlisted for the inaugural Australian Legal Research Award's Book Award of the Council of Australian Law Deans, for the book The Constitution of Myanmar: A Contextual Analysis
2019, National Library of Australia, Asia Studies Visiting Fellowship, "Legal Legacies of Authoritarian Regimes"
2018, Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellowship in Comparative Constitutional Law, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
2017, University of Indonesia Resolv Visiting Scholars Fellowship, Faculty of Law (Jakarta, Indonesia)
2012, International Institute of Asian Studies, Visiting Fellowship, the Netherlands
2009, Endeavour Australia Research Fellowship
2008-2011, Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship ‘Islam & Modernity in Southeast Asia' (FF0668730) Doctoral Scholarship and Travel Scholarships
I am currently working on three main projects
Project on trends in Asian studies in Australia (with Prof Edward Aspinall, ANU)
Academic and Editorial Boards
President, Asian Studies Association of Australia (2023-2024)
Senior Associate, Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, University of Melbourne
Editorial Board, Asian Journal of Comparative Law, National University of Singapore
Editorial Board, Southeast Asia Publication Series, ASAA, NUS Press
Editorial Board, Women in Asia Publication Series, ASAA, Routledge
Member, Law and Society Association; Asian Studies Association of Australia; Asian Law and Society Association; International Society of Public Law (ICON-S); International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL); Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies
Vice-president, Asian Studies Association of Australia (2021-2022)
Secretary, Association for Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars (AMSEAS) (2017-2019)
Secretary, Asian Studies Association of Australia (2019-2020)
Advisory Board, Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS), Indonesian Law Practicum (2018)
My teaching interests include Law and Society; Constitutionalism in the Global South; Law and Development; Asian Legal Systems; and Law and Religion in Asia. I have taught a range of workshops overseas, including on Judicial Independence; Principles and Processes of Constitution-making; The Role of Courts in Democratisation; Constitutional Courts in Federal Systems; Federalism and Minority Rights; and Emergency Powers. At UNSW, I teach Principles of Public Law (LAWS1141). I also teach the following electives: The Rule of Law in Asia (LAWS3167; JURD7567); Constitutionalism in the Global South (LAWS8375/JURD7975); and Islamic Law and Society (LAWS3165; JURD7865). From 2023, I will run an in-country elective in Indonesia on Law and Society in Asia (LAWS3139). I also run a student internship with the Institute for Global Development.
I am interested in considering proposals for research supervision in the following areas: law and society; comparative constitutional law; law and governance; law and religion. This includes Indonesian law (constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, legal pluralism and Islamic law); Myanmar law (public law, legal pluralism and socio-legal studies); and Southeast Asian law and legal traditions, comparative or socio-legal studies on the region. I am available to supervise LLB, LLM and PhD research thesis.
Existing PhD supervision:
Chuhunvoleak Srun, 'Access to Justice in Cambodian Commercial Land Disputes'
Ayesha Wijayalath, 'Constraining Abusive Constitutional Change in Sri Lanka' (Scientia Fellow)
M Abu Sayeed, 'Constitutionalism of the Other: Non-Sovereign Politics in Gandhi and Agamben'
Mohammad Ibrahim, Stealth Theocracy in Democratic Indonesia
Tirtawening Parikesit, Access to Justice for Children
Supervision completions (PhD)
Emma Dunlop, 'Justice in Exile: A study of state obligations to ensure refugees access to courts under international law'
Ashraf Azad, 'Irregular Migration of Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh and Malaysia'
Nikki Edwards, 'Civil Society and Legal Activism in Southeast Asia' (external, USyd)
Mahaarum Kusuma Pertiwi, 'Religion and the Indonesian Constitutional Court'
Luke Potter, 'Decentralised Government and Disaster Displacement Reduction in Small Island States in the Pacific'
Indriaswati Dyah Saptaningrum, ‘Internet Regulation in Indonesia 1990-2018: An Inquiry into a Contested Regulatory Field'
Xu Zhuangsi, ‘The Implications of International Human Rights Law on China’s Protection of Minority Language Rights’
Milda Istiqomah, 'Factors Contributing to Terrorism Sentencing Outcomes in Indonesia'
Supervision completions (LLM, JD, LLB)
LLM Research thesis: Yance Arizona, 'Becoming Indigenous Citizens in Indonesia'
JD research thesis: Sai Myint Aung, 'Law and Economic Development in Myanmar: A Case Study of the Central Bank'
LLB research thesis: Jarrod Mitchell, 'Community Stability and Adat Law in Indonesia'; Goran Matic, 'Toward a Modern Egyptian Constitution'; Elsa Lo, 'A Constitutionally Islamic Malaysia'