Speakers

ALHR Human Rights Conference Invited Speakers

Dr. Tim Soutphommasane

Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission.

Dr Tim Soutphommasane has been Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner since August 2013. Prior to joining the Australian Human Rights Commission, Tim was a political philosopher and held posts at the University of Sydney and Monash University. His thinking on multiculturalism, national identity and patriotism has been influential in shaping debates in Australia and Britain.

Dr Soutphommasane was born in France and raised in southwest Sydney. He completed a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and is a first-class honours graduate of the University of Sydney.

Elaine Pearson

Director at Human Rights Watch


Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch. Based in Sydney, she works to influence Australian foreign and domestic policies in order to give them a human rights dimension. Pearson regularly briefs journalists, politicians and government officials, appears on television and radio programs, testifies before parliamentary committees and speaks at public events. Pearson writes frequently for publications including Harper's Bazaar, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal. She is an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales. From 2007 to 2012 she was the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division based in New York. 

Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Pearson worked for the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and London. She is an expert on migration and human trafficking issues and sits on the board of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. Pearson holds degrees in law and arts from Australia's Murdoch University and obtained her Master's degree in public policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Julian Burnside AO QC

Renowned Australian barrister, human rights advocate and author.

Julian Burnside is a barrister based in Melbourne.  He specialises in commercial litigation.  He joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. 
He acted for the Ok Tedi natives against BHP, for Alan Bond in fraud trials, for Rose Porteous in numerous actions against Gina Rinehart, and for the Maritime Union of Australia in the 1998 waterfront dispute against Patrick Stevedores. He was Senior Counsel assisting the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the “Cash for Comment” inquiry  and was senior counsel for Liberty Victoria in the Tampa litigation. 

He is a former President of Liberty Victoria, and has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees. 

He is passionately involved in the arts.  He collects contemporary paintings and sculptures and regularly commissions music.  He is Chair of Fortyfive Downstairs, a not for profit arts and performance venue in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, and was formerly the Chair of Chamber Music Australia.   
He is the author of a book of essays on language and etymology, Wordwatching (Scribe, 2004) and Watching Brief, (Scribe, 2007) a collection of his essays and speeches about the justice system and human rights.  He compiled a book of letters written by asylum seekers held in Australia’s detention camps.  The book, From Nothing to Zero  was published in 2003 by Lonely Planet.  He also wrote Matilda and the Dragon a children’s book published by Allen & Unwin in 1991. 
In 2004 he was elected as a Living National Treasure.  In 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. 

In 2014 he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. He is married to artist Kate Durham. 
(see also Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Burnside)

Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO

University of Sydney and Chair, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Ron McCallum has been totally blind since his birth in 1948. He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney.  In 1993 he was the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at any Australian university. He served as Dean of the University of Sydney Law School from 2002 to 2007. Ron’s expertise is in labour and employment law, but his research extends to administrative law and human rights law.   

In 2013, he was appointed as a part time member of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Professor McCallum served as an inaugural member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from 2009 to 2014. he served as its Chairperson from 2010 to 2013,  and from July 2011 to June 2012 Professor McCallum served as the Chairperson of the meetings of the Chairpersons of the ten United Nations human rights treaty bodies.  

Professor McCallum was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2006 for his services to tertiary education, for industrial relations advice to governments, for assistance to visually impaired persons and for social justice. In January 2011, Ron was designated Senior Australian of the Year for 2011.

Professor Mary Crock

Professor of Public Law at Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

Mary Crock is Professor of Public Law at Sydney Law School, University of Sydney.  An Accredited Specialist in Immigration Law, she has been Head Assessor in various Immigration Specialist Accreditation programs across Australia since 1994 and has been listed in Best Lawyers in Australia in Immigration Law since 2008.  Her team’s recent research examines laws, policies and practices involving persons with disabilities in forced migration in a six-country study: the research book will be published in August 2017. With husband Ron McCallum AO, her work was acknowledged by the National Ethnic Disability Alliance with the award of the inaugural NEDA Medal.

Lucy Morgan

Specialist Immigration Advisor, Australian Human Rights Commission

Lucy Morgan is the Specialist Adviser on Immigration at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Before joining the Commission, she worked as a Senior Policy Officer at the Refugee Council of Australia, the national NGO peak body for refugees, people seeking asylum and the organisations and individuals who support them. Lucy has also served as the Secretary of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service and the Chair of the NSW Asylum Seeker Interagency. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Social Inquiry) from the University of Technology, Sydney, and a Master of Human Rights from the University of Sydney.

Associate Professor Justine Nolan

Deputy Director, Australian Human Rights Centre and Associate Professor, Law Faculty, University of New South Wales.

Justine Nolan is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at UNSW Australia and Deputy Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre. She is a Visiting Scholar at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.  She is co-editor of the recently published Business and Human Rights: From Principles to Practice  (2016)   and has published widely in the area of business and human rights.  Prior to her appointment at UNSW in 2004 she was the Director of the Business and Human Rights Program at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) in the US. She is an editor of the Australian Journal of Human Rights and the Business and Human Rights Journal.

Anna Talbot

Legal and Policy Adviser, Australian Lawyers Alliance 

Anna Talbot is Legal and Policy adviser with the Australian Lawyers Alliance, managing federal policy and advocacy. Before joining the ALA, Anna led Amnesty International’s UN engagement with expert bodies, including treaty bodies and special procedures. She focused both on country situations and developing international human rights law, contributing to thematic reports and general comments of the expert mechanisms.
 
Anna has also worked as a solicitor in Australia and in Kenya for a UK-based firm. She holds a BA and an LLB (Hons) from ANU and an LLM from UNSW. She was admitted to legal practice in 2007 and holds a current practicing certificate in NSW.

Professor Eileen Baldry

Professor of Criminology Univeristy of New South Wales.

Eileen Baldry (BA, DipEd, MWP, PhD) is Academic Chair UNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board and Professor of Criminology at and a Member of the Management Board of UNSW Sydney. Eileen researches and teaches in the areas of Criminology and Social Policy, in particular in regard to vulnerable people in criminal justice systems. She has been and is Lead and Chief Investigator on numerous major grants from the ARC, NHMRC and other funding bodies and has authored over 100 peer-reviewed books, articles and reports. She is involved in a voluntary capacity with development and justice community agencies, is a Board member of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Deputy Chair NSW Disability Council. She is a past recipient of the NSW Justice Medal and is one of the 100 Women of Influence 2016.

Kate Eastman SC

Renowned Australian Barrister specialising in human rights and Founding President of ALHR.


Kate has practiced as a barrister since 1998. She was appointed Senior Counsel in 2012. Her areas of practice are human rights, employment, discrimination and equality law. Before coming to the Bar, Kate was a Senior Legal Officer with the Australian Human Rights Commission and solicitor with Allens.  Kate is also a Senior Fellow of the Faculty of Law, Monash University where she teaches a number of international human rights law subjects in the LLM/JD program. Kate has been involved with a number of human rights and international law organisations over the past 30 years.

She was a co-founder and for many years President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. She is a member the Law Council’s National Human Rights Committee and Human Rights/Business Working Group.

Erika Feller

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne and former UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. 

From January 2005 to April 2013 Ms Feller held the post of Assistant High Commissioner {Protection}, one of the four top management positions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  A political position within UNHCR and the broader UN system, it carried the United Nations grade Assistant Secretary General.  Her professional career has included 14 years and three international postings with the Australian diplomatic service, followed by 26 years of progressively more senior appointments with UNHCR, both in Geneva and the Field. As the High Commissioner’s Representative in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, she concurrently served as UNHCR’s Regional Coordinator for Status Determination for the Indo-Chinese refugee outflow.  Amongst her accomplishments, Ms Feller initiated and managed the 2001-2 Global Consultations on International Protection, which generated the Agenda for Protection, an internationally endorsed multi-year "road map" for global refugee protection.  Her accountabilities have ranged from running refugee camps to undertaking many protection advocacy, negotiation and oversight missions to major refugee emergencies.  As Assistant High Commissioner, Ms Feller exercised oversight of the performance by UNHCR of its core protection responsibilities world-wide, in the some 127 countries where the office is represented.  She had direct responsibility for ensuring age, gender and diversity mainstreaming and accountability throughout UNHCR’s global programs. 

Ms Feller retired from UNHCR in April 2013.  She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and in July 2014 she took up her appointment as Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne.  She was recently awarded the 2015 Arts Alumni Award for Leadership. 
Ms Feller is an honours law graduate from Melbourne University, and holds an additional degree in the humanities, specialised in psychology.   She is an academically acknowledged authority on refugee law, recognized as such in Who’s Who in International Law, has published widely in Journals, is co-editor of a book on Refugee Protection in International Law and has contributed to other significant book publications, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law.  She continues her writing and publishing. 
She is married, with two children.

Professor Irene Watson

Pro Vice Chancellor Aboriginal Leadership & Strategy and Professor of Law, University of South Australia.

Professor Irene Watson belongs to the Tanganekald, Meintangk, Boandik First Nations of the Coorong and the south-east of South Australia. She has worked as an advocate for First Nations Peoples  from the 1970s and is currently Research Professor of Law and PVC Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy University of South Australia. In 2015  Irene published Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law, Routledge, 2015

Professor David Kinley

Chair in International Human Rights Law, University of Sydney Associate  

Professor David Kinley holds the Chair in Human Rights Law at University of Sydney and is Academic Expert Member of Doughty Street Chambers in London. Previously, he was the Founding Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University, and an initial member of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. His particular interests are in the relations between human rights and the global economy, and his latest book – Necessary Evil: A human rights journey into the dark heart of finance – will be published in the US by Oxford University Press later this year.

Tasneem Chopra

Cross-cultural Consultant
A Cross-cultural Consultant, Tasneem was listed in Latte Magazine’s -2016 Women to Watch’.  Through her consultancy, she speaks across the private and public sector to issues of cultural competence, identity, leadership and intersectional discrimination.
 
When not delivering keynotes, workshops or emceeing events, Tasneem is a Board Director for Ambulance Victoria and Chair of both Lentil As Anything and the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights.  
 
She has a Masters in International Development and a background in psychology and politics. Tasneem has written for The Guardian & The Age and presented on Q&A, The Drum and national radio.

Karen Willis OAM

Executive Director of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia 

Karen has worked against violence against women for 40 years, commencing her role with Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia in 2002.
Karen is a fearless advocate for women’s rights, and particularly for the rights for those who have experienced sexual, domestic or family violence to receive the highest standard of professional assistance in their recovery, and full redress for the crimes through the criminal justice system.
Karen is a NSW representative to the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence, a member of the NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council and a member of the NSW Victims Advisory Council. Karen also delivers training on responding to sexual, domestic and family violence and sex and ethics training in collaboration with the University of Western Sydney.

Mohammad Al-Khafaji

Chief Executive Officer, Welcome to Australia 


Mohammad Al-Khafaji came to Australia as a young refugee with his family in 2003 from Iraq after living a number of years in Iran and Syria.

After finishing high school, he went on to study at the University of Adelaide and holds a Degree in Engineering (Software). He is passionate about changing the national conversation around asylum seekers to a positive one through education and grass roots movements.   

At 27 years old, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer at Welcome to Australia, a national not for profit organisation that is dedicated to cultivating a culture of welcome towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers."

Tim Goodwin

Barrister, Victorian Bar

Tim Goodwin is a member of the Yuin people of the South East Coast of New South Wales. Tim is currently a barrister in Melbourne.  He graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws with Honours in 2007 and from Harvard Law School with a Master of Laws in 2012.  Tim served as Associate to Justice North of the Federal Court of Australia from 2008-09, and as Associate to Justice Bromberg from 2009-10.

Tim is a Board Member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth and the National Apology Foundation. Further, he is a Trustee of the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation.

Dan Nicholson

Executive Director, Civil Justice, Access and Equity 

Dan Nicholson has been the Executive Director, Civil Justice, Access and Equity since September 2015. In this role he oversees VLA’s civil law practice, including in mental health and disability law, social security, migration, discrimination, fines and tenancy work. He also leads VLA’s early intervention and preventative work (including community legal education, legal triage and referral practices), a $26 million funding program to 38 Community Legal Centres around Victoria and is also the Executive Director for the VLA Western Suburbs region. Dan joined VLA as the Associate Director of Access and Equity at VLA in May 2012.  
 
Prior to joining Victoria Legal Aid he worked at the Human Rights Unit at the Victorian Department of Justice managing a team responsible for human rights policy advice and advocacy and implementing the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. He previously worked in Cambodia coordinating the Asia Pacific program with an international human rights organisation focused on evictions and housing rights across seven countries in the region. He completed articles at Fitzroy Legal Service, and has worked as the Associate to Justice Maxwell, President of the Court of Appeal.

Tim Marsh

Chief Counsel at Victoria Legal Aid

Tim joined Victoria Legal Aid as a Senior Public Defender in 2011, after eight years at the Criminal Bar and commenced as Chief Counsel, Victoria Legal Aid Chambers in August 2013. Tim was formerly a solicitor at the Office of Public Prosecutions. Tim appears regularly in Supreme Court and County Court trials and appeals and has developed an extensive practice in mental impairment and unfitness matters. Tim was a member of the Victorian Law Reform Steering Committee for the VLRC reference into mental impairment and is a past legal member of the Mental Health Review Board. Since working at VLA, Tim has appeared in a number of significant cases in the Court of appeal including DPP v Walters, which saw the ‘baseline sentencing’ scheme declared unworkable, and many important decisions concerning how issues of mental illness and unfitness to be tried should be considered by the Courts.

David Manne

Executive Director of Refugee Legal, human rights lawyer and migration agent. 

David Manne is a human rights lawyer and migration agent, and Executive Director of Refugee Legal (previously the Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre (RILC)).  He has worked in various capacities assisting refugees and asylum seekers for over 20 years. In January 2001, he joined Refugee Legal, which has been at the forefront of defending the rights, the dignity and the lives of asylum seekers, refugees and disadvantaged migrants.  

David sat on the Board of the Refugee Council of Australia for seven years, and currently sits on a number of other non-government Boards, including the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Ethics Committee, and peak Government consultative bodies. He has also been appointed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Advisory Board of Eminent Persons.  He has been invited to the UN High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges including the forums focused on ‘Understanding and addressing root causes of displacement’ and ‘Protection at Sea’.  

David has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Law Institute of Victoria Paul Baker Prize for Administrative and Human Rights Law, the Law Institute President’s Awards (2006 and 2011), was shortlisted for the Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Medal in 2011 and been frequently named as one of Australia’s Leading Immigration Lawyers in the Australian edition of Best Lawyers.  

David headed Refugee Legal’s legal teams in successfully arguing 9 out of 9 High Court challenges including the cases of Plaintiff M61 (regarding the Government’s ‘offshore processing’ regime in Australia); Plaintiffs M70/M106 (the ‘Malaysia Solution’ case); Plaintiff  M47  (challenging security assessment and indefinite detention of a refugee); Plaintiff M76 (regarding indefinite detention of a refugee on security grounds); Plaintiff M150 (challenge by a 15 year old unaccompanied refugee in relation to the Government’s attempt to bar permanent protection through a visa cap); and Plaintiff S89 (challenging a Government regulation designed to bar boat arrivals from permanent protection).

Daniel Webb

Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre.

Robin Banks

former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner

Robin has recently completed six and a half years as Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, having been appointed in July 2010.  During that time, Robin was active in promoting human rights protection in Tasmania and in ensuring community awareness of and respect for equality rights under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998.
 
Robin came to that post from Sydney where for the previous 6 years she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre where she led the centre’s work in human rights, public interest law, social justice and inclusion, at both the level of individual rights protection and of systemic reform. A key focus of the Centre’s work has been accountability and transparency of government.
 
Robin has worked for more than 30 years in the area of rights advocacy and been a practicing lawyer since 2000 with experience in both the private and public sector including as an employment and discrimination litigation lawyer, a legal researcher at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, as an advocate for people with disability in Alice Springs, and as the co-ordinator of the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre. Robin held the voluntary position of national Secretary of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights for several years.

Camilla Gebicki

Camilla Gebicki is a Senior Policy Adviser working on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s University Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Project. Camilla has previously worked on the Commission’s Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with Disability. Before joining the Commission, Camilla worked with a UN agency (UNIDO) in Cote d’Ivoire. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney. 

Patrick McGee

Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign

Professor Hilary Charlesworth

Melbourne Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University