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Women's Work: Who Cares?

Sydney Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 86-105, 1992

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/80

21 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008  

Reg Graycar

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: July, 23 2008


This article considers the gendered nature of the legal discourses that emerge from courts' decision-making about damages assessments. It looks particularly at the costs that are incurred when women - and it is usually women: the wives, mothers and other female relatives of accident victims - take on the care of accident victims and considers how if at all those costs should be factored into an assessment of damages for the person injured by someone else's negligence. The High Court of Australia decided in 1977 in Griffiths v Kerkemeyer that damages could be awarded in respect of the costs of care, but since that time, a number of decisions and statutory modifications had limited the scope of that judgment. This discussion examines how that winding back relies upon assumptions about what goes on in households, and locates the issue into the context of the gendered nature of caring work. In particular, it draws attention to the ways in which because caring work is 'women's work' - even where it is done by men - that work is devalued and this has serious consequences for the lives of accident victims dependant on that care.

Keywords: tort law, feminist legal scholarship, personal injury damages assessment, gender, family relationships

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K30

Suggested Citation

Graycar, Reg, Women's Work: Who Cares? (July, 23 2008). Sydney Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 86-105, 1992; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/80. Available at SSRN:

Reg Graycar (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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