Staff profile - Kate Fitz Gibbon

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Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon

Position: Lecturer in Criminology
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Arts & Education
Department: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Phone: +61 3 52272688 +61 3 52272688



Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon is a lecturer and early career researcher 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 2014 Kate has 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.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University, 2012
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Deakin University, 2013


  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology
  • American Society of Criminology
  • British Society of Criminology
  • The Australian Feminist Judgments Project

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 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 will be published in a forthcoming 2015 edited collection with The Federation Press. 

Media appearances

Media Contributions:

  • 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, and ABC News. 

Media coverage of Kate's co-authored book 'A Second Chance for Justice' included:

  • ABC National Breakfast Show 'New Book takes closer look at Gabe Watson case' w. Asher Flynn (26 Feb 2013)
  • The Conversation Hour with Jon Faine, ABC 774 (1 March 2013)
  • Breakfast Show with Phil K on Radio Australia (26 Feb 2013)
  • Hatch, P (2013) ‘Top investigator says family of honeymoon killer victim Tina Thomas was robbed of justice’, Herald Sun, 27 Feb
  • Hatch, P (2013) ‘New Book says tight justice system let honeymoon killer, Gabe Watson, off the hook’, Herald Sun, 26 Feb
  • McDonald, E (2013) ‘Spotlight turned on double prosecution’, Townsville Bulletin, 21 Feb

Related Links

Website with information about Kate's book 'A Second Chance for Justice'

Link to Kate's articles published on The Conversation


Awards and prizes

  • Victorian Diversity Scholarship 2015 (Womens 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 Assocation 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

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.

Legal Responses to 'One-Punch' Homicides in Australia – This project examines the viability of recent law reforms implemented across Australian jurisdictions to improve legal responses to one punch homicide. This project is funded by Deakin Central Research Funding.

Homicide Law Reform and the Partial Defence of Provocation - This project examines divergent approaches taken to reforming the law of provocation in Victoria, New South Wales and England. Focusing on questions of gender and justice, the research draws from an analysis of relevant cases and interviews conducted with over 100 members of the Victorian, NSW and English criminal justice system. The findings of this research were recently 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
  • Youth perpetrated homicide
  • Intimate partner homicide
  • Mandatory and minimum sentencing policies
  • Life sentences

Research grants

External Grant Funding: 

  • Ian Potter Foundation (Travel Grant 2013)

Research groups

Kate is a member of the Crime, Surveillance, Security and Justice (CSSJ) Thematic Research Group in the Deakin Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation

Research page




  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2014), Homicide law reform, gender and the provocation defence: A comparative perspective (Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire, UK and New York, USA).
  • 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, England). 

Edited Refereed Journals

  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. & Stubbs, J. (eds) (2012) ‘Legal Responses to Lethal Violence’, Special Issue of Australian & NZ Journal of Criminology, 45(3).

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. (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., Tyson, D., & McCulloch, J. (2014) ‘R v Middendorp’ in Douglas, H., Barlett, F., Luker, T., & Hunter, R. (eds.) Australian Feminist Judgments: Righting and Re-writing Law, Hart Publishing, Oxford.
  • 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: Hampshire, UK and New York, USA).

Refereed Conference Proceedings

  • Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2009) ‘Till Death do us Part: Judging the men who kill their intimate partners’, in Segrave, M (ed) Australian and NZ Critical Criminology Conference Proceedings 2009, 78-87. 

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.

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