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Personal profile


Carolyn is a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie Law School where she teaches and researches in the area of public law, with a focus on human rights and open government. Carolyn regularly provides expert advice on privacy and the handling of personal information to government and non-government organisations. She is currently engaged in a major project examining the ethics, law and policy of sharing personal information in the hands of government for research. 

As well as a significant track record in interdisciplinary legal research, Carolyn brings to her teaching and research a practical perspective, drawing on two decades of providing high level legal and policy advice to state and federal governments, including NSW Cabinet Office and the federal Attorney-General's Department. Immediately prior to joining Macquarie University, she worked with the Australian Law Reform Commission on the following inquiries: Essentially Yours: The Protection of Genetic Information in Australia (ALRC Report 96) 2003; Same Crime, Same Time: Sentencing of Federal Offenders (ALRC Report 103) 2006; For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108) 2008; and Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia (ALRC Report 112) 2009.

Research interests

  • Public law and government
  • Open government
  • Access to information
  • Privacy
  • Secrecy
  • International Human Rights Law
  • National human rights institutions
  • Bills of rights

Research student supervision

I am happy to supervise PhD and Masters of Research (MRes) students on topics that align with my reserearch interests. 

Current students

  • PhD: Danielle Moon, Freedom of Information, Deliberative Material and Disclosure Practices
  • PhD: Dora Shipley, The Role of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Securing the Internalisation of the Convention of Belem do Para by Member States

Past students

  • MRes: Paul Maluga, Let Me and My Metadata Alone: Australia's Compliance with Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (2017)
  • PhD: Dr Holly Doel-Mackaway, 'Just Ask Us. Come and See Us': The Participation of Aboriginal Children and Young People in Law and Policy Development (2016)
  • MRes: Danielle Moon, A Matter of Balance: Freedom of Information and Deliberative Documents (2015)

Research engagement

Macquarie University Human Research Ethics Committee (Human Sciences & Humanities) legal member 2014 to present

Macquarie Law School HDR Committee member 2014 to present


  • LAWS519 - International Human Rights Law
  • LAW887 - International Human Rights Law
  • LAWS499 - PACE On-Campus Consultancy

Education/Academic qualification

Law, Bachelor of Laws, Australian National University

Asian Studies, Bachelor of Arts, Australian National University

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Carolyn Adams is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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public interest Social Sciences
freedom of information Social Sciences
health Social Sciences
human rights Social Sciences
Research Medicine & Life Sciences
Decision Making Medicine & Life Sciences
privacy Social Sciences
information policy Social Sciences

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Projects 2016 2019

Research Outputs 2005 2019

  • 13 Article
  • 2 Other contribution
  • 1 Commissioned report
  • 1 Conference paper

Macquarie University and University of Western Australia: development of a framework for secondary use of My Health record system data

Adams, C., Flack, F. & Allen, J., 17 Nov 2017, 12 p. Australian Government Department of Health.

Research output: Other contributionResearch


Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry: Data Availability and Use

Adams, C. & Allen, J., 29 Jul 2016, 13 p. Productivity Commission.

Research output: Other contributionResearch

Government databases and public health research: facilitating access in the public interest

Adams, C. & Allen, J., 2014, In : Journal of law and medicine. 21, 4, p. 957-972 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

public interest
Public Health
public health
health information

Data custodians and decision-making: a right to access government-held databases for research?

Adams, C. & Allen, J., 2014, In : AIAL forum. 76, p. 11-19 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperResearchpeer-review

Authorising the release of data without consent for health research: the role of data custodians and HRECs in Australia

Flack, F., Adams, C. & Allen, J., 1 Apr 2019, In : Journal of Law and Medicine. 26, 3, p. 655-680 26 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

research ethics
qualitative interview
decision-making process