ALHR Conference Program 

Below is an overview of the ALHR National Human Rights Conference 2017 program. Further information on speakers and sessions will be made available shortly. 

* Please note that the program remains subject to change at the organisers discretion 

Click to download a printable version of the program

Friday 17 February 2017

08:00 – 09:00
Registration Open
09:00 – 9:30
Conference Opening Ceremony
Benedict Coyne, ALHR President

  Concurrent session A Concurrent session B
09:30 – 10:30

Key High Court decisions on refugee matters: lessons learned

A number of significant cases have come before the High Court in recent years, challenging various aspects of Australia's approach to asylum and refugee protection. This includes the current regime of offshore processing. Lawyers who have been involved in such strategic litigation will discuss the direction that the High Court is taking in this area, and the challenges this poses for refugee protection in Australia.
Session Chair: Khanh Hoang
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre.
David Manne, Executive Director, Refugee Legal

Disability and the Criminal justice system Imprisonment and indefinite detention of people with a cognitive impairment and its particular disproportionate impact on Indigenous Australians

People with cognitive impairment and particularly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly overrepresented in Australian prisons. Research has shown that some people with cognitive impairments to be detained in maximum security prisons without conviction and incarcerated for longer periods than they would have been if they were found guilty of a crime. Other people are detained indefinitely. The treatment of people with cognitive impairments in Australian prisons and their indefinite detention is a violation of their human rights. This session will provide the audience with insights into not only the size of the issue facing people with cognitive impairments, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but also the horrific treatment they are exposed to in prisons. 
Session Chair: Natalie Wade
Panelists: Professor Eileen Baldry, Professor of Criminology, UNSW
Patrick McGee, Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign

10:30 – 11:00
Morning tea
1100 – 12:30

Australia's refugee policy: what is the best way forward?

The problems associated with Australia's current approach to asylum and refugee matters are well known. In this session, a panel of experts from a variety of backgrounds will discuss the best and most realistic way forward, given the current political climate. They will address not only steps that the Australian Government should take, but also how the legal profession and the wider community can constructively contribute to the debate.
Session chair: Rebecca Dowd 
Opening statement: Behrouz Boochani, Journalist and writer on Manus Island
Mohammad Al-Khafaji, CEO Welcome to Australia
Erika Feller,  Vice-Chancellor's Fellow, University of Melbourne, and former UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection
Lucy Morgan, Specialist Immigration Advisor, Australian Human Rights Commission


11:00 - 11:45 Refugees with Disabilities, Human Rights and Identification: A six country study Professor Mary Crock, Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO, Ms Laura Smith-Kahn and Professor Ben Saul have conducted groundbreaking research into refugees and asylum-seekers with disabilities across six countries. Until very recently, refugees with disabilities were a forgotten group and their needs hardly recognised. This presentation will discuss the findings of that research, considering the experiences of refugees with disabilities in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Uganda, Jordan and Turkey. Speaker: Professor Mary Crock Professor of Public Law, University of Sydney    

11:45 - 12:30pm The Right of Deaf Persons to Sit on Juries: The UN CRPD Committee and the High Court of Australia The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has heard three complaints against Australia, all relating to the right of deaf and of hard of hearing persons to sit on juries. However, in the recent decision of Lyon v State of Queensland, the High Court of Australia held as a matter of statutory interpretation that deaf persons could not serve on juries, at least in Queensland. There was no discussion of citizenship or of human rights.
Speaker: Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO, University of Sydney and Chair, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

12:30 – 13:30
13:30 – 15:30 

Conference Panel: Freedom of Speech: International Human Rights and the Current Australian Dialogue
Session Chair: Benedict Coyne
Opening statement: Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
Robin Banks, former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
Tasneem Chopra,  Cross-cultural Consultant
Timothy Goodwin, Barrister 

15:30 – 16:00

Afternoon tea

16:00 – 17:20

Business and Human Rights - Current Challenges and Future Potential

A consideration of current Business and Human Rights challenges and potential opportunities for future action.
In this session we will hear from our three panelists, each an expert in the business and rights field, on what they consider to be critical current issues in the field of business and human rights, including both present challenges and future opportunities. Following the panelists' addresses, there will be a questions session, facilitated by ALHR's Business and Human Rights Chair, Amy Sinclair.
Panelists: Kate Eastman SC, Renowned Australian Barrister specialising in human rights and Founding President of ALHR
Professor David Kinley, Chair in International Human Rights Law, University of Sydney Associate  
Professor Justine Nolan,  Associate Professor, Law Faculty, University of New South Wales and Deputy Director, Australian Human Rights Centre

Ending violence against women in Australia and beyond: measures, reform, and advocacy.  

Both in Australia and globally, violence against women and girls continues to occur at epidemic levels. It is estimated that one in three Australian women has experienced physical violence in their lifetime and one in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence. Drawing on the recently-concluded Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and the recently-initiated Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into sexual assault and harassment of university students, this panel will examine pathways and strategies for the way forward to reduce, prevent and ultimately eliminate violence against women and girls.
Chair: Anna Kerr, Co-Chair ALHR Women and Girls' Rights Subcommittee & Principal Solicitor Feminist Legal Clinic.
Speaker: Professor Hilary Charlesworth, Melbourne Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University
Karen Willis OAM, Executive Director of Rape and
Domestic Violence Services Australia
Camilla Gebicki, Senior Policy Adviser, Australian Human Rights Commission 

17:20 -1930

 Cocktails and headline keynote presentation

Keynote Speaker: Elaine Pearson, Australia Director at Human Rights Watch

Saturday 18 February 2017
08:30 – 09:00
Registration open
09:00 – 09:30
Conference welcome
09:30 – 10:30 Aboriginal recognition: treaties and colonial constitutions, ‘…we have been here forever...’
Speaker:  Professor Irene Watson, Pro Vice Chancellor Aboriginal Leadership & Strategy and Professor of Law, University of South Australia.

10:30  - 11:00

Morning tea
11:00 – 12:30 Engaging with UN treaty bodies and human rights monitoring mechanisms
Speaker: Anna Talbot, Legal and Policy Adviser, Australian Lawyers Alliance
12:30  - 13:30
13:30 – 14:30 Current Human Rights challenges in Victoria
Speakers: Dan Nicholson, Executive Director of the Civil Justice Program at Victoria Legal Aid
Tim Marsh, Chief Counsel at Victoria Legal Aid

14:30  - 15:00
Afternoon tea
15:00 – 16:00 Why Human Rights Matter
Keynote Session:

Julian Burnside AO QC, Renowned Australian barrister, human rights advocate and author
Conference close