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A Conversation about Refugee Protection

Presented by the La Trobe Law School and La Trobe Asia, La Trobe University

The major political parties have joined together to convince us that asylum seekers must be prevented from coming to Australia. However, they have not explained why asylum seekers attempt to come to Australia in the first place or what the consequences of Australia’s deterrence policies might be for asylum seekers and countries in the region.


At this forum Mary Anne Kenny (an Australian lawyer) will have a public conversation with lawyers involved in the Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network – Renuka Balasubramaniam (Malaysia), Lakshan Dias (Sri Lanka), Imran Khan Laghari (Pakistan) and Yunita Purnama (Indonesia) – about the practical ways in which refugee protection in the region can be improved.

Tuesday 1 September 2015 
7.00pm - 8.30pm

State Library Victoria
Theatrette (entry off La Trobe Street)
328 Swanston St
Melbourne, Victoria 3000


About the Speakers

Mary Anne Kenny is an Associate Professor at the School of Law at Murdoch University.  She is the Programme Manager for the Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice.  She researches and publishes in the area of refugee law and policy.  She is also a qualified legal practitioner and registered migration agent.  Mary Anne is currently a member of the Ministerial Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention which provides advice to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection on issues relating to refugee and asylum seeker policy.  She is also a member of the Joint Advisory Committee which provides advice to the Government of Australia and Government of Nauru in relation to the Offshore Processing Centre on Nauru.


Renuka T Balasubramaniam is a Malaysian lawyer who has represented numerous refugees who had been sentenced with the punishment of caning for illegal entry to. Malaysia. Acting for the refugees in relation to their appeals against the sentence, some of these reported decisions where the sentence had not been set aside were useful in the scuttling of the 2011 'Malaysia Solution'.  Over her ten year career she has represented refugees appealing negative status determination decision by the UNHCR, as well as victims of human trafficking claiming compensation.  She is currently researching Malaysia's Practice in Relation to Temporary Humanitarian Protection at La Trobe University.


Mr Lakshan Dias is a leading lawyer in Sri Lanka for human rights and refugee cases.   He is current President of the Transparency International Sri Lankan Chapter, Chairperson of SANRIM (a network for refugees and migrants), Chairperson of Rights Now Collective for Democracy, and Bureau Member for South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR).  He has served as Chair and Deputy Chair of the South Asian Working Group of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and as a member of APRRN's Steering Committee of APRRN.  He is a former National General Secretary of The National Council of YMCAs of Sri Lanka.


Yunita Purnama is the head of division of organizing, paralegal and education of LBH Jakarta (Jakarta Legal Aid Institute), Indonesia. She has worked on human rights advocacy, especially related with urban poor and vulnerable people through structural legal aid movement. She, along with other parties who have same concern, started to handle refugee advocacy informally, and in 2012 formed the network called SUAKA (Indonesian Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection). SUAKA is the first national and voluntary civil society which focuses on refugee legal advocacy as the lack of concern of this issue in Indonesia. In SUAKA, she has experience in legal aid, conducts public awareness and national advocacy. Recently, she was appointed as the secretariat coordinator of SUAKA.


Over the last decade, Imran Khan Laghari has worked on Human Rights, advocacy, humanitarian protection, democracy and Rule of Law projects in Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal and Afghanistan with United Nations, International and national organizations. With a particular focus on key protection issues, his main areas of interest are international humanitarian and international human rights law. He is actively doing advocacy to uphold the human rights of vulnerable population in Pakistan including refugees, stateless and Hazera minorities. At present, Imran is an Executive Director at Human Rights Alliance HRA Pakistan and Lawyer. He holds the position of Deputy Chair of South Asian Group at Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network Thailand. He is an active member of Sindh High Court Bar in Pakistan.

Imran has a MA in Human Rights from the Mahidol University Thailand with scholarships from SIDA/RWI Sweden and Mahidol University Thailand, an LLB from the University of Sindh Pakistan, and a BA (Hons) in Political Science from University of Sindh Pakistan. He has presented papers on numerous human rights and refugee issues at different international forums.


Contact Details

Diana Heatherich

T: 9479 5414

E: d.heatherich@latrobe.edu.au


All proceeds from this event are going to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre