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Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon

Position: Senior Lecturer in Criminology
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Phone: +61 3 924 46281 +61 3 924 46281



Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon is a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University. Kate researches in the area of legal responses to lethal violence and the effects of homicide law and sentencing reform in Australian and international jurisdictions. This research is undertaken with a key focus on issues relating to gender and justice, and has been informed by over 100 interviews conducted by Kate with members of the Australian, English and American criminal justice systems.

Kate has published the findings of her research in high impact criminology and law journals and has presented at national and international criminology conferences. Kate has also advised on homicide law reform reviews in several Australian jurisdictions.

In 2015 Kate was awarded the Peter Mitchell Churchill Fellowship to examine innovative and best practice legal responses to the prevention of intimate homicide in UK, United States and Canada.

In 2014 Kate published her first sole-authored book, 'Homicide Law Reform, Gender and the Provocation Defence: A Comparative Perspective' (Palgrave Macmillan). Drawing on the voices of over one hundred members of the Victorian, New South Wales and English criminal justice systems, the book provides a comparative analysis of the operation of the controversial partial defence of provocation, the varied approaches taken to reforming this law and the effects of those reforms in practice. Within this, the analysis is centrally concerned with conceptual questions of gender, justice and the role of denial in the criminal justice system.

In 2013, Kate was invited to undertake an Academic Visitor position at the Centre for Criminology at Oxford University. Kate was based at the Centre from December 2013 to February 2014. During this time she presented the findings of her research on provocation law reform at Oxford, London School of Economics, University of Manchester and University of Liverpool.


Visiting Posts:

  • July 2015: Visiting Fellow in the School of Justice (Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology)
  • June 2015: Visiting Academic in the Faculty of Law (University of Auckland)
  • December 2013 - February 2014: Visiting Academic at the Centre for Criminology (Faculty of Law, Oxford University).


  • Doctor of Philosophy, 2012
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, 2013


  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology
  • American Society of Criminology
  • British Society of Criminology

Professional activities

Kate is a member of the: 

- Barwon Centre against Sexual Assault Governance Board (Deputy Chair)

- Step, Back, Think Board of Directors

- British Society of Criminology Victims Network Steering Committee

- Deakin University Faculty of Arts and Education Research Assessment Sub-committee

- Deakin University Faculty of Arts and Education Board


Subjects and units currently teaching

In 2015 Kate is the Unit Chair for:

  • ACR203 Crime, Victims and Justice

Conferences and seminars

Kate has presented the findings of her research at several national and international criminology and law conferences, including the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Annual Conference, American Society of Criminology Conference and the Crime, Justice and Social Democracy Conference. In 2013 she was invited to present a plenary address at the International Society for Reform of Criminal Law 26th International Conference (Hobart, Tasmania). 

In August 2014, Kate co-convened 'Homicide Law Reform in Victoria: Prospects and Retrospects' with Emeritus Prof Arie Freiberg. The 2 day conference brought together leading scholars and practitioners to critically examine the Victorian experience of reform and to provide a comprehensive insight into the genesis, process and outcomes of homicide law reform from an Australian and international perspective. The conference papers were published in a 2015 edited collection by The Federation Press; Homicide Law Reform in Victoria: Retrospect and Prospects

Media appearances

Practitioner publications:

  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2013) ‘Abolishing the mandatory life sentence for murder’, Criminal Law & Justice Weekly, 177, 151-152.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2011), ‘Defensive Homicide: An Argument for Abolition,’ Law Institute Journal, May Edition, 28.

Media Contributions:

  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2015) Submissions to family violence royal commission reveal a fragmented system, The Conversation, 14 July. 
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. & Horder, J. (2015) Five years after the end of provocation, jealous male killers still receive leniency The Conversation, 2 June.
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014) Addressing male violence at night requires a cultural shift, The Conversation, 27 October. 
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014) Laws on lethal domestic violence should be reviewed - nationally, The Conversation, 6 August
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014) Justice prevails in lethal violence reforms, The Age, 27 June
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014) Victorian homicide law reforms ensure just responses to violence, The Conversation, 26 June
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014) Lord Carlile’s youth justice review: “Terror doesn't work as deterrent”, The Justice Gap, 25 June. 
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014) Baird must revisit mandatory sentencing laws, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2013) Abolishing defensive homicide offence essential, The Age, 4 Oct
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2013) Abolishing defensive homicide will benefit female victims and offenders, The Conversation, 4 Oct
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2013) Legitimising lethal male violence: why defensive homicide needs to be abolished. The Conversation, 29 May
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2013) NSW parliamentary inquiry recommends partial reform to provocation law, The Conversation, 24 April
  • Flynn, A & Fitz-Gibbon, K (2013) Weighing the price of justice, Canberra Times, 11 March
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2013) Time to act – provocation must be rejected as an excuse for murder, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Feb
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2012) Murder or manslaughter? NSW ponders the provocation problem, The Conversation, 6 Sept
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2012) Legal Loophole protecting violent men: why the defence of provocation needs to change, The Conversation, 23 July
  • Fitz-Gibbon, K (2012) Defensive Homicide Law akin to Getting Away with Murder, Weekend Australian, 3 March

Kate's research on homicide law has also been discussed in several media pieces, including articles in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, The Herald Sun, The Australian and ABC News. 

Related Links

Link to Kate's articles published on The Conversation


Awards and prizes

  • Victorian Diversity Scholarship 2015 (Women's Governance scholarship program, Victorian Government and Australian Institute of Company Directors)
  • 2014 Vice-Chancellor's Early Career Researcher Award for Research Excellence (Deakin University)
  • 2014 Faculty of Arts and Education Early Career Research Award (Deakin University)
  • 2014 UN Association Media Awards: Commendation
    Awarded in the Increasing Awareness and Understanding of Women's Rights and Issues for: The Conversation ‘Domestic Violence in Australia’ series. Jointly listed as a finalist with: Terry Goldsworthy, Matthew Raj, Gael Jennings, Margaret Simons, Sarah Wendt, Jane Wangmann, Rosemary Purcell, James Ogloff, Helen Westerman, Emil Jeyaratnam, Michael Courts and Fron Jackson-Webb.
  • 2014 Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence
    Awarded in the Young Leader Category
  • 2013 Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology New Scholar Prize
    Jointly awarded with Dr Asher Flynn for "Bargaining with Defensive Homicide: Examining Victoria's secret plea bargaining system post law reform". 
  • 2013 Monash University Arts Faculty Postgraduate Publication Prize: Commendation
    Commendation awarded for "Homicide Law Reform in Victoria, Australia: From provocation to defensive homicide and beyond".
  • 2010 Dean's Sessional Teaching Commendation (Faculty of Arts, Monash University)
    Awarded for: Excellence in Large Unit Coordination


Research projects

Kate is currently working on a range of projects examining legal responses to violence against women, one punch homicide and the merits of divergent approaches to homicide law reform. These projects include:

Innovative legal responses to the prevention of intimate partner homicide in the UK, US and Canada - This project is part of a 2015 Churchill Fellowship awarded to investigate the effectiveness of innovative and recently introduced legal responses to intimate homicide in the UK, USA and Canada. The project will specifically examine the merits of the UK offence of coercive control, the New York integrated domestic violence court model and domestic violence death review committees internationally. This project is funded by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

The killing of women in Victoria: Examining risks of violence and points of intervention - Using case analysis and interviews, this project will generate an in-depth understanding of the risks of violence and points of intervention common to cases of lethal violence against women in Victoria. The findings will provide an evidence base to illuminate women’s experiences of lethal violence and to inform support services, prevention initiatives and justice system responses in Victoria. This project is funded by The Victorian Women's Trust

Legal responses to one punch homicide in Victoria: Understanding the impact of law reform - In 2014 the former Victorian government introduced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for ‘coward’s punch’ manslaughter. This project will be the first to systematically document the context within which one-punch homicides occur, how the Victorian law of homicide responded to one-punch homicides prior to the 2014 reforms and legal practitioner’s views of current practices and future needs for reform. This project is funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board. 

Legal Responses to Children who Commit Lethal Violence - This pilot project examines the effectiveness of current legal responses to children who kill in the Victorian and English criminal justice systems from the perspectives of legal practitioners involved in the daily operation of the law of homicide. This research critically examines debate surrounding the age of criminal responsibility and the defence of doli incapax with a focus on questions relating to justice, law reform and theories of responsibility. This project is funded by the Deakin Central Research Grant scheme.

Homicide Law Reform and the Partial Defence of Provocation - This ongoing project examines divergent approaches taken to reforming the law of provocation in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Focusing on questions of gender and justice, the research draws from an analysis of relevant cases and interviews conducted with members of the criminal justice system. The findings of the Australian and UK component of this research were published in Homicide Law Reform, Gender and the Provocation Defence (2014, Palgrave MacMillan).

Research interests

  • Legal responses to lethal violence
  • The partial defence of provocation
  • The offence of defensive homicide
  • The partial defence of loss of control
  • Homicide law reform
  • Family violence
  • Legal responses to violence against women
  • Youth perpetrated homicide
  • Mandatory and minimum sentencing policies
  • Life sentences

Research grants

External Grant Funding: 

  • Victorian Women's Benevolent Trust General Grant (2015)
    Project: The killing of women in Victoria: Examining risks of violence and points of intervention. 
  • Victorian Legal Services Board Project Grant (2015)
    Project: Legal responses to one punch homicide in Victoria: Understanding the impact of law reform. 
  • The Peter Mitchell Churchill Fellowship (2015)
    Project: To examine innovative and best practice legal responses to intimate homicide in the UK, United States and Canada. 
  • Ian Potter Foundation (2013)
    Travel Grant

Research groups

Kate is a member of the Alfred Deakin Research Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.

Research page




  • Fitz-Gibbon K & Walklate S (eds) (Forthcoming, In press) Homicide, Gender and Responsibility. Routledge: United Kingdom.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K & Freiberg A (eds) (2015) Homicide Law Reform in Victoria: Retrospect and Prospects, The Federation Press.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2014) Homicide law reform, gender and the provocation defence: A comparative perspective, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Flynn A & Fitz-Gibbon K (2013) A Second Chance for Justice: The Prosecutions of Gabe Watson for the death of Tina Thomas, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2015 Forthcoming) 'Minimum Sentencing for Murder in England and Wales: A critical examination 10 years after the Criminal Justice Act 2003' Punishment and Society
  • Fitz-Gibbon K & Maher J (2015) 'Feminist challenges to the constraints of law: Donning uncomfortable robes?’ Feminist Legal Studies. Published Online First, DOI: 10.1007/s10691-015-9292-6
  • Horder J & Fitz-Gibbon K (2015) ‘When sexual infidelity triggers murder: Examining the impact of homicide law reform on judicial attitudes in sentencing’ Cambridge Law Journal, 74(2): 307-328.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2013) ‘The Mandatory Life Sentence for Murder: An Argument for Judicial Discretion in England’ Criminology & Criminal Justice, 13(5): 506-525.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2013) ‘Replacing Provocation in England and Wales: A Partial Defence of Loss of Control’ Journal of Law & Society, 40(2): 280-305.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2012) ‘The Victorian Operation of Defensive Homicide: Examining the delegitimisation of victims in the criminal justice system’ Griffith Law Review, 21(2): 555-581.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K & Stubbs J (2012) ‘Divergent directions in reforming legal responses to lethal violence’ Australian & NZ Journal of Criminology, 45(3): 318-336.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2012) ‘Provocation in New South Wales: The need for abolition’ Australian & NZ Journal of Criminology, 45(2): 194-213. 
  • Fitz-Gibbon K & Pickering S (2012) ‘Homicide Law Reform in Victoria, Australia: From Provocation to Defensive Homicide and beyond’ British Journal of Criminology. 52(1): 159-180.
  • Flynn A & Fitz-Gibbon K (2011) ‘Bargaining with Defensive Homicide: Examining Victoria’s Secret Plea Bargaining System Post Law Reform’ Melbourne University Law Review, 35(3): 905-932. 
  • Flynn A & Fitz-Gibbon K (2010) ‘The Honeymoon Killer: Plea Bargaining and Intimate Femicide – a Response to Watson’ Alternative Law Journal, 35(4): 203-207.

Book Chapters

  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2015) ‘The offence of defensive homicide: Lessons learnt from failed law reform’ in Fitz-Gibbon K & Freiberg A (eds.) Homicide Law Reform in Victoria: Retrospect and Prospects, Federation Press.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K & Freiberg A (2015) ‘Homicide law reform in Victoria: Retrospect and Prospects’ in Fitz-Gibbon K & Freiberg A (eds.) Homicide Law Reform in Victoria: Retrospect and Prospects, Federation Press.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K, Tyson D, & McCulloch J (2014) ‘R v Middendorp’ in H Douglas et al (eds.) Australian Feminist Judgments: Righting and Re-writing Law, Hart Publishing.
  • Fitz-Gibbon K (2014) 'Overcoming barriers in the criminal justice  system: Examining the value and challenges of interviewing legal practitioners' in K Lumsden & A Winter (eds.) Reflexivity in Criminological Research: Experiences with the Powerful and Powerless, Palgrave Macmillan.

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