Following the completion of an extensive preliminary literature review, it was clear that an exploratory and flexible research design was required. A case study method was employed, which involved few assumptions about how law reform occurs or about the opportunities for and constraints to community participation.
Five instances of law reform in New South Wales were examined through case studies, variously concerning rights and responsibilities under tenancy, mental health, law and order, and civil procedure laws:
Residential Tenancies Amendment (Public Housing) Act 2004 (NSW)
- Legislative protection for boarders and lodgers
- Review of the Mental Health Act 1990 (NSW)
Bail Amendment (Repeat Offenders) Act 2002 (NSW)
Civil Procedure Act 2005 (NSW).
The data comprising the basis for our analysis and conclusions primarily relates to these five case studies of law reform and included publicly available documentation concerning the case studies, as well as semi-structured in-depth interviews with 50 informants. Individuals and/or organisations identified as having been directly involved in any case studies, or as having considerable breadth and/or depth of experience in New South Wales law reform, were selected as informants. Accordingly, interviews were conducted with government officers, members of government advisory bodies, parliamentarians, staff of legal and non-legal CSOs, and individuals directly affected by law reform.
Case study data was supplemented by statistical data on the number of Acts passed by the Commonwealth and New South Wales parliaments, and the number of Bills introduced in the New South Wales Parliament for the period 2002–2006.