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Breaking the deadlock: Protecting refugees and asylum seekers

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Breaking the deadlock: Protecting refugees and asylum seekers

An expert panel including Paris Aristotle, Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Gillian Triggs and Huy Truong will discuss ways to break Australia’s deadlock over refugee policy at a UNSW Grand Challenges event at Sydney Opera House on 15 August.

The panel event, co-hosted by the UNSW Grand Challenge on Refugees & Migrants and the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, will discuss possible solutions to issues including how we can protect those who seek refuge in our region, how we can break the deadlock that has seen refugee policy become a political football, and how we can create a just, lawful and humane approach to displacement.

There are more refugees on the move than ever before. According to the latest annual Global Trends study from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, 65.6 million people were displaced worldwide at the end of 2016 – about 300,000 more than the previous year. Of this number, some 21.3 million were refugees.

Compared with many other countries, the scale of the problem in Australia is tiny, but issues around refugees and asylum seekers generate huge political heat. Discussion can seem futile as issues of law and principle clash with political expediency and entrenched positions.

Yet, as the world faces the largest number of displaced people since World War II, there has never been a more important time for informed and evidence-based discussion on this issue.

Breaking the Deadlock: Creating Solutions for Refugees, at Sydney Opera House on 15 August, will provide an opportunity for that discussion.

The panel will feature Australian and international experts who work at the forefront of refugee and asylum seeker practice and policy:


  Paris Aristotle AO is CEO of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc, also known as Foundation House, and has more than 25 years’ experience supporting refugees and asylum seekers, particularly in the provision of services to survivors of torture and trauma. He has worked closely with UNHCR on refugee resettlement and served on a wide range of state and federal government bodies including the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers in 2012. He became an AM in 2002, was awarded AO in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours and has been named the 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year.

Guy S. Goodwin-Gill is Professor of Law at UNSW and will be Acting Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law from mid-2017. He is also Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law of the University of Oxford, and practises as a barrister from Blackstone Chambers in London. He has published widely in areas including international refugee law and human rights law and was the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law.

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs was the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2012–17. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney and was also Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Professor Triggs combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice in areas including World Trade Organization law and human rights.

Huy Truong came to Australia by boat in 1978 as a Vietnamese refugee. He has since developed a diverse business career as a management consultant, venture capitalist, corporate executive and entrepreneur. He is currently CEO and co-owner of the ALI Group and a Founding Director of Thrive Refugee Enterprise. He was a pioneer of the Australia e-commerce industry and was recognized as the Australian Financial Review Ecommerce Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000.

There will be an opportunity for audience Q&A following the panel discussion.


What: Breaking the Deadlock: Creating Solutions for Refugees

When: Tuesday, 15 August, 6.30-8pm

Where: The Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Tickets: $38.50 (including booking fee)

Media contact: Lauren Martin, Kaldor Centre, 0407 393 070 / 02 9385 9639 or Liza Cassidy, UNSW Media Office, 9385 3240 / 0429 390 737

The Grand Challenges Program was established by UNSW to promote and lead critical discussions on some of the greatest issues facing humanity. There are currently four declared Grand Challenge topics – Climate Change, Refugees & Migrants, Inequality, and Living with 21st Century Technology.

The Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW is the world’s first and only research centre dedicated to the study of international refugee law. The Centre was founded in October 2013 to undertake rigorous research and contribute to public policy involving the most pressing displacement issues in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

source: The University of New South Wales

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