Dr Virginia Marshall


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Dr Marshall is a Research Fellow based at the Australian National University's School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). She is a practising lawyer and leading legal scholar with expertise in Aboriginal water rights, native title rights in Sea Country, Indigenous governance and the intersection of Traditional Knowledge systems and western intellectual property regimes, especially as it relates to Indigenous commercialisation of traditional medicines.

Virginia’s doctoral thesis 'A web of Aboriginal water rights: Examining the competing Aboriginal claim for water property rights and interests in Australia' won the 2015 WEH Stanner Award and was published by AIATSIS Aboriginal Studies Press as Overturning Aqua nullius, recognised as a seminal publication.

Virginia is a former criminal defence lawyer with NSW Legal Aid, former associate & researcher with the Federal Court of Australia, and former Senior Legal Officer with the Australian Law Reform Commission.  She is a professional member of the NSW Law Society and a Magistrate for the NSW Law Society’s 'Mock Trial Competition'. Dr Marshall was ANU’s Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2022).

Virginia holds various government appointments including serving on the Climate Change Authority Board, Deputy Co-Chair of the Committee on Aboriginal Water Interests and the Drafting Group for the National Water Initiative Mark 2 and regularly invited on expert roundtables relating to water policy reform. Virginia serves on the ANU Human Ethics Research Committee, the inaugural Māori Research and Ethics Council and Chair of the ANU Indigenous Research Advisory Group. Virginia is a Co-Chair of the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions Indigenous peoples, cultures and knowledges research cluster and is a Research Associate and Board member of ANU’s Australian Studies Institute.

Virginia is in high demand for conferences and seminars, in Australia and internationally, including Indigenous water rights, Indigenous peoples’ and climate change, Indigenous governance, Indigenous protected area management and traditional knowledge protection and commercialisation. Her current research focus is as the lead Chief Investigator on a 3-year ARC-funded Aboriginal medicines project in collaboration with Deakin and Griffith Universities and Kimberley traditional knowledge holders.

Research interests

Dr Marshall's research interests are:

  • Indigenous water law, rights & interests
  • Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, Information & Knowledge Systems
  • Indigenous environmental sciences & protected area management
  • Commercialisation of native foods, medicines & treatments
  • Indigenous business development livelihoods and climate change
  • Global Policy & Governance with Indigenous peoples
  • Domestic implementation of UNDRIP and the Nagoya Protocol  

Researcher's projects

Dr Marshall's key research focus is on the Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous project IN220100031 ‘Barriers and pathways to development of Indigenous traditional medicines’ grant of $1,014,000 over 3-years. As the Lead Chief Investigator Dr Marshall is based at ANU and working in collaboration with Chief Investigator Professor Emma Kowal (Deakin University) and Chief Investigator Professor Ron Quinn (Griffith University), along with two Kimberley-based Nyikina Mangala Senior Elders (male and female) as Indigenous Research Collaborators, two Postdoctoral Researchers (at ANU and Deakin), three PhD scholars (two at Griffith and one at ANU) with a p/t Research Officer (ANU) assisting with the project.


  • Graduate Certificate in Laws (Criminal Practice): [2017] University of Wollongong
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Law): [2014] Macquarie University
  • Master of Laws [2002] Australian National University
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice: [2003] University of Wollongong
  • Bachelor of Laws: [2002] University of Wollongong
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours): [1999] University of Wollongong
  • Bachelor of Vocational Education and Training: [1999] Charles Sturt University

Expertise Areas

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Knowledge
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy
  • LAW
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Law (excl. International Trade Law)
  • Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession
  • Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation
  • Litigation, Adjudication and Dispute Resolution


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