Professor Cunneen has a national and international reputation as a leading criminologist specialising in Indigenous people and the law, juvenile justice, restorative justice, policing, prison issues and human rights. Chris has participated with a number of Australian Royal Commissions and Inquiries (including the Stolen Generations Inquiry, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the National Inquiry into Racist Violence), and with the federal Australian Human Rights Commission. He taught criminology at Sydney Law School (1990-2005) where he was appointed as Professor in 2004. He was also the Director of the Institute of Criminology (1999-2005) at the University of Sydney.
Professor Cunneen has held research positions with the Indigenous Law Centre, University of New South Wales (UNSW), and the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Between 2006 and 2010 he was the NewSouth Global Chair in Criminology at UNSW. He was Professor of Justice and Social Inclusion at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University and continues as a Conjoint Professor at JCU. Since 2018 Chris has been Professor of Criminology at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney.
He has wide research interests that cross the fields of criminology, social science and law. In particular his interests include Australian prisons and the growth in imprisonment, juvenile justice, restorative justice, and the relationship of Indigenous people to dominant legal systems both in Australia and internationally. His work also displays a strong interest in human rights and social justice.