Dr Virginia Marshall


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Virginia is the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow with the Australian National University's School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society. She is a practising lawyer and duty solicitor, a former associate & researcher with the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney and professional member of the NSW Law Society and Women Lawyers Association of NSW. Former Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Law Reform Commission and inquiry into 'Family Violence & Commonwealth Laws: Improving Legal Frameworks' (ALRC 117), Executive Officer of the NSW Government's 'Aboriginal Water Trust' and criminal defence lawyer with NSW Legal Aid.

Virginia is the winner of the WEH Stanner Award for the best thesis by an Indigenous author, titled, 'A web of Aboriginal water rights: Examining the competing Aboriginal claim for water property rights and interests in Australia'. She is in demand as a Keynote Speaker on Indigenous water law and governance, Indigenous traditional knowledge systems and the intersectionality of western intellectual property regimes and the Indigenous commercialisation of native foods and medicines.

A lifetime member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and Magistrate for the NSW Law Society's 'Mock Trial Competition'.

Virginia is Partner Investigator (PI) with an ARC Linkage Grant, ‘Garuwanga: Forming a Competent Authority to Protect Indigenous Knowledge’ ($244,000) to "govern and administer a legal framework in order to ensure consent of Indigenous communities is obtained for access to Aboriginal traditional knowledge and to establish a fair and equitable benefit-sharing mechanism for use of that knowledge”.

Research interests

Dr Marshall's research interests include:

  • Indigenous water law, rights & interests
  • Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, Information & Knowledge Systems
  • Indigneous commercialsiation of native foods, medicines & treatments
  • Indigenous business & management
  • Agriculture, land & farm management
  • Ecology & environmental sciences & biotechnology
  • Global Policy & Governance.

Virginia is a practicising lawyer and legal scholar, her research doctoral thesis won a prestigious award and published as a ground-breaking Aboriginal water rights book titled "Overturning aqua nullius: Securing Aboriginal water rights" and launched in Sydney by the Hon. Michael Kirby.

Honoured by the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria, Canada, Virginia recevied the award of 'Distinguished Woman Scholar'. She is recognised by the Department of Primary Industries 'Hidden Treasures Honour Roll' of outstanding rural volunteers, contributing to the well-being and unity of regional communities.

Virginia's Indigenous Postdoctoral research position with Australian National University's School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society will focus on leading law reform for Indigenous peoples in Australia, by critically anaylsing international Indigenous water use, to develop Indigenous cuturally appropriate mechanisms for national water frameworks and ethical water use within domestic water regimes.

Researcher's projects

Overturning aqua nullius: Securing Indigenous water rights & interests in Australia

This research will identify and critically analyse international water rights regimes to develop an Australian legal framework for Indigenous water rights in economic, cultural and tenure-based water use, and undertakes an international comparative analysis of slected nation states which have competing water use regimes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups. The aim of this research is to respond to the future challenges of global and domestic water scarcity, of which particularly affect Indigenous communities in Australia. This research also aims to provide avenues to address the contunuing gaps in Aboriginal health, wellbeing and wealth status through a water rights paradigm in the development of consistent legal and institutional frameworks which facilitate the incorporation of the First Peoples of Australia as a distinct, First Nation right within Australia's national water framework, the National Water Initiative.






BA (Hons) BVocEd LLB GDLP LLM PhD (law) Macquarie 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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