Elizabeth Tekanyo (BA, MSexol, She/Her) is Diversity Focus’ Director of Strategy and Operations. She delivers a number of workshops across various streams as a Trainer/Facilitator.
Her interests range from teaching ally-ship in antiracism work, cross-cultural sexual and reproductive health as well as inclusive human rights work.
Elizabeth Lang (B.Soc.Sc., MHR, PhD qualifying, She/Her) is the Founder and CEO of Diversity Focus.
Her areas of expertise include intersectional diversity and inclusion, domestic & family violence and human rights particularly in relation to migration and refugee pathways.
National Refugee-led Advocacy and Advisory Group (NRAAG)
Danijel Malbasa is an industrial relations lawyer with Australia's largest blue collar union. He experienced multiple wars in the former Yugoslavia and lived five years in a refugee camp. He came to Australia in 1999 on a UNHCR Humanitarian Visa.
When he is not defending workers in courts and tribunals, he volunteers at Refugee Legal Inc assisting refugees in visa applications.
He helps organise monthly Bridge Meal sessions for LGBTIQ-identifying refugees and is on the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Committee. He also completed the ASRC Advocacy and Power Program in 2016.
Daniel writes on forced displacement and his writing has been published by The Guardian, The Age, Road to Refuge, The Balkanist, Australia for UNHCR and other online publications.
His aim is to put refugees with lived experience at the forefront of advocacy and public discourse.
Sitarah Mohammadi is a former Hazara refugee from Afghanistan, who spent 2019 as a Provost Scholar at the University of Oxford, undertaking studies in International Relations, and completed a dissertation on Australia’s refugee policy. Currently, she is undertaking her Juris Doctor (Law) at Monash University Law School in Melbourne.
Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI)
Designation: Director, Migrants and Refugees Desk of CBCPNGSI
Previous Jobs: RSD Officer with PNG Immigration, Refugee Caseworker, and M&R Outreach Officer with Caritas PNG
Experience: 6 Years of work in the refugee sector
Education: BA Political Science, University of Papua
New Guinea Nationality: Papua New Guinean
Mary Anne Kenny is an Associate Professor at Murdoch University School of Law. She teaches, researches in the area of human rights and refugee law and is a legal practitioner.
Mary Anne has provided independent advice on asylum seeker policy and detention to the governments of Australia and Nauru. Previously she was the Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University and held the position of Chair of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia.
Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative
Ali Reza Yunespour works as Academic Internships Coordinator and Acting Director of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
His PhD thesis examines the political economy of Afghanistan’s higher education; and his research interests are education politics in fragile contexts and asylum seeker and refugee issues in Australia.
He has extensive community development experience in conflict societies and has helped around 8,000 students in 22 rural schools in Afghanistan through his volunteer works with Indigo Foundation Australia.
His works have been published on Australian refugee issues and Afghan politics and (higher)education. Previously, Ali Reza has worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and as a lecturer at American University of Afghanistan in Kabul (2016-2017).
He was also a People of Australia Ambassador with Australian Multicultural Council in 2012-2013 during which he advocated for social cohesion and community harmony in Australia.
International Detention Coalition
Mia-lia Boua Kiernan is Communications & Engagement Coordinator of International Detention Coalition.
Mia-lia has a long history of grassroots multi-level organising in the US, including co-founding a community organisation to campaign against the detention, deportation, and separation of Cambodian refugee families, as well as organising alongside deportee communities in Cambodia.
She believes strongly in the need for directly impacted people, families, and communities to lead and guide advocacy work on issues that affect their own lives. She holds a BA in International and Area Studies and an MA in Public Policy and Management.
Refugee Council of Australia
Deena is a refugee advocate who utilises her personal experience of surviving and thriving as a refugee in her work as an educator, practitioner and inspiration.
Having being directly involved in refugee resettlement for more than 14 years and been a co-founder of a number of thriving programs, supporting refugee young people and their families. Deena has also used her skills and experience in educating the Australian public about what it is to be a refugee.
Deena is currently also coordinating the education program at the Refugee Council of Australia’s Face to Face Schools and Community Program. In the three years since then, Deena has broadened the focus of RCOA’s Face to Face program, taking it from schools to wider community and business audiences. She has also been a superb mentor to the growing number of people who have participated in the program as refugee speakers.
Deena also sits on a number of management and advisory groups relating to refugee advocacy and resettlement and is an active member of her local community.
Pola (She/Her) LGBTIQA+ Project Representative STARTTS NSW
A Pacific Islander Transgender woman of colour, Pola has been in Australia for 4 years and is currently seeking asylum. She is a co-trainer at STARTTS for their LGBTIQA+ program and does ongoing work in the project, also a co-facilitaor for Lgbtiqa+ asylum seeker and refugees community support group .
Forcibly Displaced People Network
Tina has dedicated her career to working on the issues of gender and sexuality being driven by her lived experience of being a proud queer refugee woman as well as her academic and professional policy expertise in these areas.
She is the co-founder of the Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN), the only registered LGBTIQ+ refugee-led organisation in Australia and a co-convenor Queer Displacements: Sexuality, Migration and Exile conference, the first Australian conference dedicated to LGBTIQ+ displacement.
Forcibly Displaced People Network
Renee Dixson has dedicated their career to working on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/transgender, intersex, queer and other sexuality (LGBTIQ+) people in forced displacement.
Renee is a co-founder of the first Australian LGBTIQ+ refugee-led NGO called Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN). Renee is also a PHD candidate at The Australian National University creating an archive of oral histories about LGBTIQ+ forced displacement.
I am Oliver, a gay man from Pakistan. Growing up life was very challenging for me because being gay in a country that didn’t accept my sexuality and openly gay means a death sentence in Pakistan, I have had to learn to adapt to having autism plus a speech and language impairment too.
When I came to Australia and applied for asylum (still waiting for a decision), I experienced a lack of support for LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers so I try to volunteer and help in LGBTIQ+ peer support groups. I am currently working with Queer Refuge: mental health support group as a coordinator which organizes seminar/workshops for LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers. Another group I am currently volunteering with is BridgeMeals which organise free monthly dinners for LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers.
Apart from that, I am a general committee member of VicBears too which is the biggest bear group in Victoria.
Forcibly Displaced People Network & National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG)
Guided by the belief of “trying to leave this world a better place than you found it”, Azlan Ehsani brings years of experience in community work and advocacy as well as his lived experience as a queer refugee to the newly established Forcibly Displaced People Network in supporting and advocating for LGBTQIA+ forcibly displaced people in Australia.
Azlan is also a community facilitator, racial justice educator and a recent playwright, whose work over the years has been to provide the space and platform to engage and address the intersectional issues affecting queer and trans people of colour, refugees and asylum seekers.
Azlan is also a steering committee member of the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group; the project lead of Queer Refuge, the first mental health support group for LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers in Victoria and is a part of the community social group, BridgeMeals, which organises free monthly dinners for LGBTQIA+ refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in Melbourne.
For safety concerns, this speaker consciously picked this type of picture for the program.
Filmmaker, Community and Cultural Practitioner
Maria Tran is an actor, filmmaker and martial artist working across video, performance and action choreography.
Her international film credits include Roger Corman’s Hollywood movie ‘Fist of the Dragon’, Chinese mixed martial arts movie ‘Death Mist’ and Vietnamese blockbuster ‘Tracer’.
Maria won the 2013 Breakout Female Performer at the International Action on Film Festival and 2016 Female Action Performer of the Year, MartialCon for her role as director/ producer on female-led action comedy ‘Hit Girls’.
Her recent theatre work includes the development of ‘Action Star’ with PYT Fairfield. In 2018, Maria became the recipient of the Create NSW Western Sydney Arts Fellowship award and established a female led film and art collective Phoenix Eye; based in Western Sydney. She is currently in production for her action film “Echo 8”.
Representative of CRLC & Volunteer Educator
Halima Akhlaqi is the manager of Cisarua refugee learning centre, a refugee run school in Indonesia. She is Hazara from Afghanistan, but was born in Iran in1989 as a refugee after her parents left Afghanistan 43 years ago.
She holds a BA in language and literature and worked as a volunteer teacher for five years in Mashhad Iran before traveling to Indonesia. She has been at CRLC since December 2015, first as a teacher, then assistant manager and for the last 20 months, as manager.
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
Dominic is a strong advocate of the disability and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community, with more than 17 years of experience in community work, cultural development and multicultural affairs.
Dominic is a person with lived experience of dual disability, being hearing impaired and living with cerebral palsy. He is from the CALD community, originally from Vietnam and migrating to Australia as a baby in the 1970s.
In the past 17 years, Dominic has had extensive work experience within the disability space, providing support and accommodation to refugees with disability.
Dominic has also worked with small NGOs, doing state election multicultural outreach and providing local council community support. He has worked in two separate DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) programs - adoption/wardship records and disability, subsequently developing a passion for social policy and service delivery to marginalised communities.
Dominic has two postgraduate degrees – one in social work and the other one by research on intercountry adoption and race. He has also completed a University of Melbourne fellowship (2018) report on refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities for refugee survivors and ex - detainees.
Refugee Rights Activist
Hafsar is an advocate and human rights defender. Hafsar has been widely involved in the advocacy and activism for the rights of statelessness , refugee rights, prevention and respond to sexual gender based violence and LGBTQI rights both during her time as a refugee in Malaysia and currently in New Zealand.
She worked very closely with Rohingya refugees and other refugees from Myanmar particularly in prevention and respond to sexual gender-based violence including child marriage as a Refugee Women Protection Corp [RWPC] with International Catholic Migration Committee [ICMC] for about 8 years during her time in Malaysia. She is still actively engaged with advocacy work for the refugee rights, statelessness, LGBTQI rights and prevention and responds to SGBV in New Zealand and in other countries whenever she has the opportunity to do so.
She participated at Global Refugee Forum as a refugee representative and human right defender with gender audit team and spoke at the post light session.
She is currently the deputy chair of Australia New Zealand Pacific Working Group, ANZWPG, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network [APRRN] since mid 2020, the New Zealand country coordinator of Free Rohingya Coalition [FRC], the representative of Rohingya Student Association from cox Bazar and a core working group member of global movement for statelessness led by Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) while pursuing her education.
National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG)
Shabnam is a driven community development practitioner, passionate about cultivating true partnerships between communities and structures of power to create lasting solutions.
Inspired by her own lived experience, she is a strong advocate for meaningful engagement and participation of refugees in addressing the complex challenges of forced migration and resettlement.
Shabnam has founded and led multiple initiatives in Australia and abroad supporting refugees and host communities, particularly focusing on strengths-based leadership and capacity-building approaches.
She is currently part of a small team at the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI) working to establish a holistic community-led refugee support program in Australia and chairs the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG), a refugee-led organisation creating spaces for effective inclusion of voices with lived experience in key decisions, policies, public and media discourse about refugees in Australia.
Shabnam is also a Karate champion with multiple national and international titles to her name.
NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)
My name is Francis, I work as a Project Officer for the LGBTIQA+ Community support group at NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). on the side I also do freelance writing and photography.
Refugee Council of Australia
Adama Kamara is the Deputy CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) - the national umbrella body for people seeking asylum, refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them.
Adama recently joined RCOA following a 10-year career in local government working on place-based community developed projects in western Sydney. Adama has personal and family experience of seeking asylum and supporting newly arrived refugees from her home country of Sierra Leone.
She has a passion for community led initiatives and an advocate for meaningful participation. She has led co-design projects with young people, people seeking asylum, refugees, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and service providers. One example is the multi-award-winning Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood project, which she initiated and has led since 2014.
Refugee Council of Australia
Simon Shahin is a former refugee from Syria. He has been resettled in Australia in 2015 and is currently studying B.E. in Electric Power & Renewable Energy at UTS.
Since 2015, Simon has collaborated with several organisations in the sectors of Youth Empowerment, Refugee Resettlement, and Human Rights’ Advocacy, both nationally and internationally, while often connecting former refugees through sport and music as well. He is currently a speaker on the Refugee Council of Australia’s Face-to-Face education program.
Oliver is currently working as a lawyer with a government department. He has held previous roles as a Senior Policy and Projects Officer in the domestic and family violence sector with the NSW Government and has been a Manager working in Anti-Discrimination law.
In his time, he advocates for access to services for women, children and people with a disability as well as the homeless. He also volunteers with projects to support victims of domestic and family violence.
He is an Assyrian, fleeing the middle-east as a refugee and starting a new life in Australia and completing his university degrees in Australia. He has managed settlement service projects and is on numerous consultation and advisory councils with local, state and non-government agencies. He is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of a not for profit organisation where he volunteers his spare time.
Atem Atem was born in South Sudan. Atem Grew up in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Atem came to Australia in 2002 through Australia's humanitarian program. Atem attended the University of Canberra and the Australian National University (ANU). Atem is currently writing a PhD thesis exploring the settlement experiences of South Sudanese families in Western Sydney.
Atem understands the importance of community organising. Atem established or took part in establishing several refugee community organisations. He is one of the founding members of the NSW Refugee Communities Advocacy Network (RCAN). Atem is currently the president of RCAN.
Atem worked with the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN) in both the ACT and NSW. He also worked with STARTTS. He currently works for Fairfield City Council in the role of Social Planning and Advocacy Officer.
The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) Blak Impact
Skye is a proud mother and First Nations woman who is currently completing a PhD in Indigenous Data Sovereignty and models of care for high risk young people, at the University of NSW. Additionally she is the CEO of Kowa and Blak Impact Lead at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern.
Skye is an experienced social researcher and evaluator. Skye has contributed to numerous research and evaluation projects including place-based, collective impact and government initiatives.
Skye has a particular interest in Indigenous data sovereignty and governance and grounds these principles within her work. She brings a unique approach to evaluation which considers sustainable governance and community/individual defined and led concepts.
Louna is Recruitment Manager at Refugee Talent responsible for managing the operational recruitment activities for the international recruitment process with our partners Talent Beyond Boundaries. She is also a volunteer and Member of Australian Red Cross Advisory Board for Victoria.
Louna arrived to Australia early 2017 on a Humanitarian Refugee visa and previously worked with the United Nations as the Designated Officer in Charge of the World Health Organization country office Syria - city of Homs and was recognised by receiving the WHO Director- General Global Award of excellence for exceptional contribution to the organization in 2015 working under very difficult conditions and amongst the most challenging environment and most serious chronic emergencies in the world.
Meena Chavan is a Senior Lecturer and Program Director of International Business at Macquarie University, Australia and her research expertise is in the discipline of International Business/Entrepreneurship and Cross Cultural and Diversity Management.
Her research has been published in top journals and encompasses developing intercultural competence and cross-cultural leadership for propagating inclusion and diversity, intercultural conflict resolution in multinational corporations and enhancing the employment opportunities of people from culturally, sexual and linguistically diverse (CALD), refugees and disability backgrounds.
She has published a book on "Intercultural Management in Practice- Learning to lead diverse global organizations".
Anna Robson is CEO & Co-Founder of Refugee & Migrant Talent (RMT) whose experience working on Nauru led her to meet her co-founder Nirary Dacho, a Syrian refugee with a tech background at a Techfugees hackathon in 2015 and start Refugee Talent. They have built RMT into a social enterprise providing recruitment & technology solutions.
People seeking asylum in the African community
A former high school teacher, Idrissa moved to Australia from Sierra Leone in 2018.
He works with the Jesuit Refugee Service and Refugee Council of Australia, sharing his refugee story with school and community groups across Sydney. Idrissa has also worked as a Community Service Worker with the Red Cross society of Sierra Leone.
Human Rights Advocate
As a small child growing up in Afghanistan, Rahila Haidary was eager to attend school but had to dress as a boy to gain entry. Subsequent threats against her family forced Rahila and her parents to flee their homeland. After many years of displacement and distress, Rahila arrived in Australia as a refugee.
Since then, Rahila has become an outstanding young leader who has generously shared her own stories and used her rich intellectual capital to promote understanding of the refugee experience, strengthen cross-cultural empathy, and advocate for gender equality and human rights.
She has taken stages nationally and internationally as a keynote speaker and has played a significant role in documentaries, including ‘Is Australia Racist?’, to challenge discrimination and existing attitudes to refugees.
A Youth Development Officer, Rahila is deeply committed to her work enhancing community cohesion and human rights.
The National Refugee-led Advocacy and Advisory Group (NRAAG)
Shukufa holds a Bachelor of Law from Western Sydney University and currently works with the Department of Education with the NSW Government as a Policy officer focusing on policy and programs in early childhood education.
She has worked previously as a Policy Officer with the Refugee Council of Australia. Her work involved policy analysis, research and advocacy on issues affecting people seeking asylum and refugees.
She is the Deputy Chair of the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG) as well as an Advisory Committee member of UNSW Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.
She is also one of the executive board member of Akademos Society that helps with the education of girls, youth and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kween G Kibone started her career with the explosive Hip Hop outfit KillaQueenz. As an artist, MC, community advocate and curator her commitment to her own artistry and to supporting emerging artists is formidable.
Kween G is both an industry and cultural leader and emerging Afro-Australian icon. Renowned for provocative, unflinching and authentic Hip Hop content, Kween G delivers a dynamic style as an MC, performer and Hip Hop artist. She is often described as “consciousness-raising” and her fighting spirit for women’s rights and those in disadvantaged communities courage and humility have earned her respect across the country.
Kween G is a strong advocate of women’s representation within the music industry and currently sits on the advisory panel of the Australian Women in Music Awards. In demand to host and contribute to large scale events, (Sydney Festival, Africultures Festival, Ethics Centre debate-IQ2, Marrickville Festival, Women's Scream International Poetry Festival), Kween G is an experienced cross cultural communicator and facilitator. Kween has developed and delivered workshops in N.T and N.S.W.
In her various capacities, Kween has developed a significant network through her music, broadcasting and facilitation and she has worked for 15+ years as a producer/presenter and is a qualified trainer in community radio.
Recent creative works saw Kween G in her debut theatre performance in Urban Theatre Projects“ Home Country”2017 and soon after headlined the sold out Pan Africa Poets Cafe-Black Girl Magic at Melbourne Arts Centre. In the same year she released the single “Who I Am” a fearless vision statement from a “Femcee” who writes to encourage us all to fiercely pursue our unique passions “until the wheels fall off”.
Kween G has been, and continues to develop as a powerful advocate for social Justice awareness through the arts and is consistent in her care and commitment to her music, Social Justice, Inclusion and Human Rights. Kween G’s father sought political asylum in Australia from Uganda and in the early 90s, the family emigrated to Sydney.
Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID)
Robert HAKIZA is a Refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Congolese living in Uganda since 2008. He holds a degree in Agriculture from the Catholic University of Bukavu (DRC). He holds a certificate in forced migration from the International Summer School of forced migration of Oxford University.
He is a Co-founder and Executive Director of the Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID), Uganda. He is a founding member of the Refugee-Led Organizations Network.
He is also a founding and steering committee member of the Global Refugee Network (GRN) representing the Sub-Saharan Africa. He is a refugee Advocate. He is a TED Fellow and Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow 2017.
He’s Obama emerging African Leader 2019. In August 2017 he had a TED talk titled “Refugees want empowerment not Handouts” at TED Global Conference.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Naomi Steinberg joined HIAS as Vice President, Policy and Advocacy in September, 2017.
Previously, Naomi was the Director of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition dedicated to refugee protection, welcome and excellence in the U.S. refugee resettlement program. In this position, she led the overall work of the Council, including facilitating partnerships between RCUSA and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as fostering strong communications between international, federal and state partners.
Prior to her work with RCUSA, Naomi was the Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). At SEARAC, she focused on building the capacity of community-based, refugee-led organizations.
Naomi has an M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from Cornell University and a B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College.
Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative
Lisa has been leading the work of the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative since it was originally conceived in 2017.
She began her career as a commercial lawyer and has been working in refugee law and policy for more than a decade with organisations such as the Centre for Policy Development, Save the Children and Refugee Legal. Lisa is also a Fellow with the Centre for Policy Development and a board member of the Cisarua Learning Inc and the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development (GLADP), both refugee-led charities working to support refugees in Australia and the region.
Lisa holds a Masters in Public and International Law. Lisa lives in Melbourne and is the very proud mum of three boys.
My New Neighbour Ambassador
I have lived refugee experience as part of the Vietnamese boat people who fled war in the late 1970's. My family and I were taken in as refugees in Canada. With the support of the local community that sponsored us, we established our new lives in Canada.
Today, my family are all contributing citizens globally and are examples of how a country can invest in its future through local refugee sponsorship programs.
I myself am a business owner of Cornerstone Digital, a web development and marketing company in Sydney, that has been hiring and supporting other Australian businesses for 18 years. We also support charities with our pro bono work and donations including Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, Rural Australians for Refugees and Amnesty International.
Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia
Nicole is a community development practitioner with ten years experience working in not-for-profit and government agencies.
She completed a Masters of Social Development from UNSW and has extensive experience working in the refugee sector with agencies such as Australian Red Cross and Settlement Services International.
She is passionate about building community capacity to drive long lasting and sustainable change that delivers meaningful outcomes for the community.
Director at Whitlam Institute
Leanne Smith is an international human rights lawyer, with a Masters degree in Public Policy from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (formerly the Woodrow Wilson School). Leanne has worked in the Australian judicial system, for the Australian Human Rights Commission, in the international NGO sector, regional human rights organisations, as an Australian diplomat (DFAT) and in various roles for the United Nations in field operations and at UN Headquarters in New York, most recently as Chief of Policy and Best Practices for UN Peacekeeping Operations. She is currently the Executive Director of the Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University and an adjunct Professor of Law at WSU. Her professional experience spans Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Balkans and Afghanistan.
Leanne has researched and published on topics including Australian national identity, Australian foreign policy and international human rights, international humanitarian law, rule of law and development as well as on the United Nations, gender and women, peace and security. She is Australian Lawyers for Human Rights Co-Chair for the Rights of Women and Girls, a visiting fellow at the ANU Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, a member of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law Advisory Committee and a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Association of Australia.
Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Adrian Edwards is the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra with geographical responsibility for the region including Australia, the Cook Islands, the Republic of Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, the Republic of Palau, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Independent State of Samoa, the Solomon Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu and the Republic Vanuatu.
Building on a long history of UNHCR involvement in the region, Adrian’s role is to work with governments and other partners to increase understanding and support for refugees and asylum-seekers, and stateless persons.
Before coming to Australia Adrian was UNHCR’s representative in Montenegro. He has also been an international spokesperson for the organization and led its worldwide news and media operations for over a decade including at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum and across multiple humanitarian emergencies. Over the course of his UN career, he has worked in Afghanistan with the UN political mission UNAMA, in Timor-Leste with UNMIT, in Sudan with the UN-AU Hybrid mission in Darfur, and in Cambodia where he was a political violence analyst for OHCHR.
Adrian has a background in human rights policy and in journalism in the Asia-Pacific, having worked among others with the Far Eastern Economic Review, Reuters, Economist Intelligence Unit and in South Korea as a radio and TV correspondent for the BBC.
Adrian is British-Swedish. He studied public administration at Harvard, and music in London. He is married to journalist Huongly Buiduon
Amnesty International Australia
Shankar Kasynathan came to Australia with his family as refugees. Over the past 15 years he has worked closely with refugee and migrant communities in Victoria, the Northern Territory and the ACT.
A skilled communications and public policy specialist, he has degrees in Economics and Public Policy. He is an active supporter of community organisations that help to build partnerships and social cohesion in regional areas.
Since December 2017, Shankar has led ''My New Neighbour'', a campaign started by Amnesty International Australia which calls for a fair and just refugee community sponsorship program. He is also a Commissioner for the Victorian Multicultural Commission and an ambassador for the Migrant Workers Centre.
Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University
My name is Salem, I am a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan. I have come here in 2013. I live in Perth ever since. After living 8 years in Australia, I am still on a 5 year temporary visa which is called SHEV. I have been working as a stonemason for the last 5 years. recently quit the job. Now I study at TAFE and part time I work as a research assistant at Centre for Human Rights and Education (CHRE) at Curtin University.
It's been 3 years since I have started to work with people from all walks of life - people with academic background, community members, churches, refugee advocacy organizations and politicians. We have worked hard to persuade politicians towards a softer and more humane approach regarding refugees and people seeking asylum.
We have a list of priorities to deal with nationally and locally. At a local level, we have targeted areas that could be dealt in a state level. things like, transport concession, accessibility to TAFE and housing. We have shifted some policy in regards to transport and TAFE accessibility, while the housing issue is still to be pushed for some policy changes.
Nationally, we collaborated with different organizations across the country to advocate and bring some policy change to end the precarity of so many people who live in various TPVs. We also host a monthly meeting for people with lived experience. To involve them, hear directly from them, especially, if we are making a submission on their behalf so that they can have their say over the issues that ultimately affect their lives.
Western Sydney University
Dr Alfred Mupenzi is a current staff member at Western Sydney University. In his professional work, Dr Mupenzi, leads a program: Refugee, New and Emerging Communities under Widening Participation Engagement Advancement.
Originally from Rwanda, Alfred was born and raised in Uganda to refugee parents. He went to school in Uganda and finished his Bachelor of Arts with Education degree in 2003. Alfred finished his Masters of Arts in Public Administration and Management at Makerere University in Uganda in 2010. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Western Sydney University in 2018. Dr Mupenzi’s interest areas of research are in refugee/ asylum seekers, higher education, social justice and diversity, migration and transnationalism.
Youth and Refugee Advocate
Nazanin Sharifi is a young Hazara woman currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Arts (International Relations) at the University of Sydney. She is deeply passionate about advocacy for migrant and diaspora youth and encouraging political engagement for young people.
She is a MYAN (Multi-Cultural Youth Affairs Network) NSW youth ambassador and recently participated as a youth facilitator in the United Nation’s Youth Engagement & Empowerment Program in Australia. She is also the communications lead for a not-for profit organisation (Our Race).
In 2020, Naz was awarded the NSW Humanitarian Award in the Youth category for her work with refugee young people. Naz will be interning with the Australian Human Rights Commission to bring a youth’s perspective in their policy and anti-racism campaign.
Western Sydney University
Elsie Samano Bachelor of Medical Science graduate at WSU Master of Public Health candidate at USYD Health Promotion Officer at SLHD & Research Assistant at UNSW Elsie is a Syrian refugee who advocates for equal opportunities for disadvantaged groups regardless of their backgrounds.
Since her arrival in Australia, she has been working hard to meet her family, education and work commitments. Through the support she received at Western Sydney University (United Voices Club), she was able to deliver refugees’ voices to international platforms and was acknowledged for her academic achievements and contributions at the University.
Some of her achievements were attending the 9th University Scholars Leadership Award 2018 and being selected for the final stages of the 7 News Young Achiever Award, nominated for the Western Sydney University Academic Achievement Award.
Refugee Council of Australia
Paul Power has been CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia since 2006. As head of the national umbrella body on refugee policy, he helps to lead NGO advocacy with the Australian Government and United Nations agencies.
Since 2012, he has served in leadership roles with the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network. Paul was a member of the Australian Government’s Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council (2008-2014) and NGO co-chair of the global dialogue on refugee resettlement (2011-2012).
Paul previously worked in the NGO sector as a media officer, trainer, researcher and manager and in the newspaper industry as a journalist and editor.
Refugee Council of Australia
Asher is a Senior Policy Officer with the Refugee Council of Australia, the national peak body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them. His work involves research, policy development and advocacy on national and international issues impacting refugee communities.
Asher is also a PhD Candidate and Lecturer at Monash University in public law, human rights, and refugee law.
Western Sydney University Indigenous Elders Advisory Committee
Uncle Greg Simms is well-known as an activist for reconciliation, a traditional woodcarver, a storyteller and an educator of Aboriginal culture. Uncle Greg's ties to the Aboriginal community of Greater Western Sydney are through his ancestral links to the
Gundungurra (water dragon lizard people) of the Blue Mountains and the Gadigal (whale people) of the Darug nation. He is also a member of the Western Sydney University Indigenous Elders Advisory Committee.
Refugee Council of Australia
Kelly is the Director of Strategy, Communications and Fundraising at the Refugee Council and leads our work on sector advocacy and campaigns.
She has 20 years experience working in human rights around the world and in Australia, from leading large global campaigns and a US-based human rights organisation to field research and programs with refugees, internally displaced people and particularly vulnerable groups in Colombia, Mexico, the Ecuadorian Amazon, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nauru and PNG. Before working in human rights she was a journalist with the Australian Associated Press. .
Defence Lawyer and Refugee Advocate
Deng Thiak Adut is a Sudanese child soldier turned
western Sydney lawyer and refugee advocate whose
harrowing tale of his personal journey as a refugee has
evoked strong emotions among Australians.
Born in South Sudan in 1984, one of eight children,
Deng was conscripted as boy soldier at just six years
old before going to war when he was only 10. Instead of
playing games and singing children’s songs he learnt
war songs and was taught to love the death of others.
He escaped the army in 1995 and arrived in Australia
as a 14-year-old refugee in 1998.
After teaching himself to read, write and speak English, Deng won a scholarship to study law at the University of Western Sydney in 2005 and graduated with a Bachelor of Law in 2010. He later obtained his Masters degree in Law at the University of Wollongong.
Deng Thiak Adut is now a partner in the AC Law Group, a firm he co-founded with Joseph Correy
in 2014. Deng practices in the areas of criminal, family, employment and international law. He is especially well known for his work as a criminal lawyer assisting the Sudanese community in Blacktown and for taking on refugee pro bono cases.
Deng is a community award recipient and has been described in the media as a “remarkable person”. He devotes many hours of his personal time every week to mentoring, advising and supporting members of his community. He regularly acts as a spokesperson for the Sudanese community and has frequently appeared in the media to advocate for their interests.
End Child Detention Coalition/St Vincent's Social Justice Group
Jenny coordinates the St Vincent's Social Justice Group mentors. They had the experience of supporting a family under the Group Mentor Program. Jenny also works for Catholic Mission and is a Director of the End Child Detention Coalition.
Western Sydney University and NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Resettlement
Peter Shergold has been Chancellor of Western Sydney University since 2011. Piper and Kerrin Benson, he presented a report to the Commonwealth Government on refugee integration entitled Investing in Refugees, Investing in Australia.
Refugee Council of Australia
Rebecca Eckard is the Director of Policy & Research at the Refugee Council of Australia, the national peak body for people from a refugee, humanitarian, and asylum-seeking background, and the organisations and individuals who support them.
Rebecca convenes several policy and advocacy networks, drafts submissions and gives testimony for Parliamentary inquiries and delivers information and education sessions on Australia’s asylum and refugee policies. Rebecca regularly participates in representative work on behalf of RCOA, both in Australia and internationally.