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News > Alumni > Emma Buxton-Namisnyk

Emma Buxton-Namisnyk

Emma Buxton-Namisnyk studied Law and Philosophy, a master's degree through Oxford University, a second master's through UNSW, and a DPhil from Oxford.
21 Feb 2024
Written by Lucinda Gray
Emma graduated with her DPhil from Oxford University
Emma graduated with her DPhil from Oxford University

History, English and Art were Emma Buxton-Namisnyk’s favourite HSC subjects at Newcastle Grammar School. This passion continued as she studied Law and Philosophy at Macquarie University.

Graduating in 2010 with First Class Honours in both degrees, Emma soon commenced work at an international law firm. It was here that she gained a glimpse of what her future would be – contributing to something good by working for people in need. She wasn’t enamoured with the world of corporate law, however, preferring the pro bono work instead.

Emma’s interest in social justice developed at university and she soon found herself employed in public service as an associate for a judge in the NSW Court of Appeal. The role gave her excellent insight into how court processes work and exceptional experience being part of the administration of justice at a high level.

During this time, Emma also studied a master’s degree in International Human Rights Law through the University of Oxford in the UK, spending two summers there in person, and completing course requirements online. “It was an amazing, game-changing degree because I got to work with people from the United Nations and I was the only Australian in my intake year,” she said. “I have made lifelong friends all over the world. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities for what I thought the law could do in areas of social justice.”

During her master’s degree and at the conclusion of her role at the NSW Court of Appeal, Emma took a role on the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team as its inaugural research analyst. She soon found herself conducting reviews into domestic violence-related deaths, including homicides and suicides. This developed her passion researching how to prevent future deaths, and built on her long-time interest in domestic violence criminalisation.

Emma credits her school environment at NGS with contributing to her sense of social justice. “One of the things that going to NGS instilled in me was the idea of whole personhood – I believe I am an all-rounder and a social contributor,” she said. Emma’s time at school included playing hockey and music, which also contributed to her holistic approach to life.

Emma undertook a second master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology at UNSW, which she had to complete very quickly as she was also offered a scholarship for a DPhil (PhD equivalent), once again through the University of Oxford. She graduated her DPhil, which examined Australia’s response to domestic violence against First Nations women, in 2022.

Emma epitomises the idea of being a lifelong learner who has put her learnings into practice to help others. She speaks with passion as she describes why she loves her work – research, collaboration, working with people, teaching students, intellectual activity and making a difference so we, as a society, can respond to serious issues more effectively.

Still friends with many from her graduating cohort, Emma fondly remembers being a part of the school musical, Les Miserables, and is grateful for the teachers who helped her discover what she really enjoyed. Her advice to current students is to: “Follow what you’re really interested in. You may encounter pressure from other people to follow a certain path, but it’s important to follow your own.”

Currently a lecturer at UNSW, Sydney, Emma was recently the recipient of the prestigious Radzinowicz Memorial Prize from the British Journal of Criminology for the best article published in 2022, arising from her research into domestic violence policing of First Nations women in Australia. This followed an Early Career Research Award from the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology earlier in the year. Congratulations, Emma. These are incredible achievements!

Emma lives in Sydney with her husband, Alex, and three-year old son, Felix.

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