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Forensic Science: Searching Australian Legislation

These guides provide an introduction to key resources available for Forensic Science. The Library has a wide range of both electronic and print materials including books, databases and journals.

Plan your search

 

Before you begin your search, identify the main ideas (or key concepts) in your assignment question or research topic.

When searching for legislation, you should ask yourself these questions:

Questions to ask when searching for legislation
Jurisdiction
  • What is my relevant jurisdiction?
Type of Information
  • Am I looking for an Act, a Regulation, or a Bill?
  • Do I need a version that is acceptable in a court?
  • Do I need the current version, or a historical version?
  • Am I interested in related cases, commentary or journal articles?
Certain information from the Act or Bill
  • Do I need to know the key dates relating to my Act?
  • Am I interested in a specific provision of my Act?
  • Do I need to know the amendment history of my provision?
  • Do I need to find the Bill's second reading speech, explanatory materials, or parliamentary debates?

Official legislation registries

 

Once you know your jurisdiction, the relevant official legislation registry will supply most of your needs. Material from these sites is acceptable in a Court.

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All the official registries have historical versions, key dates, and amendment history.

 

The attached PDF, links, and videos below, will guide you in finding these.

Searching the official Federal and NSW legislation registries

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Tip

  • Browsing is more effective than keyword searching: it gives you more control of the process.

  • If you are looking for Explanatory Memoranda, remember to look under Bills rather than Acts.

  • Note that Second Reading Speeches are not usually available from the Federal Register of Legislation. You will have to use a database like Lexis Advance Pacific or LawOne, or the relevant Hansard. Speeches from before 1995 will need to be found in Hansard.

  • Click Acts on the left-hand side to see the option for Acts no longer in force, and other options.

  • Amending Acts can often be found under Acts > No longer in force, since recent amending Acts are usually deemed to have self-repealed once they have done the job of amending their principal Act.

  • To find private member Bills, on the left-hand side click Bills > Private member bills.

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Tip

  • Browsing is more effective than keyword searching.

  • When looking for current Acts, select the In Force link in the menu bar. Browse by the title of the Act using the alphabetical list. For repealed Acts, select the Repealed link and browse similarly.

  • Amending Acts are often found in the Repealed section, since recent amending Acts are usually deemed to have self-repealed once they have done the job of amending their principal Act.

  • If you have located an Act, details about its original Bill can be found under the Legislative history tab.

  • If you are looking for Explanatory Notes, remember that these are associated with Bills rather than Acts.

  • If you are browsing for Bills, make sure that you are searching under the right date-range for when the Bill was introduced in the Parliament.

  • Note that Second Reading Speeches are not usually available from the NSW Legislation website. You will have to use a database like Lexis Advance Pacific or LawOne, or the relevant Hansard. Speeches from before 1995 need to be found in Hansard.


Example Questions:

When did the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) receive the royal assent? When did it commence?

Look up the Act in NSW Legislation and select the Legislative history tab.

  • Select the Original legislation menu and you will see the assent date, 16.6.02 and the commencement date, 20.3.02.

  • These dates show that this is retrospective legislation.

When was provision 26K of this Act last amended, and by which amending Act?

  • Select the History notes menu, and scroll to section 26K. We see that this section was inserted by Act No 76 of 2005.

  • Now selecting the Amending legislation menu, we scroll to 2005 and see that Act No 76 is the Civil Liability Amendment (Offender Damages Trust Fund) Act 2005.

  • We see the assent date is 26.10.05, and that the amending Act commenced on its assent date.

Review your results

 

Not all the information you get from a search will be useful.

If your results are not relevant, try reviewing your search strategy by asking the following questions:

  • What exactly are you looking for?
  • What type of information were you expecting?
  • Do you have the correct title and jurisdiction?
  • Do you have the official version of an Act, if that is required? The relevant historical version?
  • Are you looking in the most appropriate resource?
  • Are you looking in the appropriate section of that resource?
  • Do you need more information to understand your Act? (in that case you may need to look up the original Bill, explanatory materials and the second reading speech)