Adjunct Professor Sev Ozdowski

Sev Ozdowski

As the Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner (2000-05), Dr Ozdowski authored the ground-breaking report: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention: A Last Resort?. The report ignited a national debate about Australia's immigration detention policies and ultimately led to children being released from mandatory detention and a rethinking of the government's detention policies.

As Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Ozdowski conducted the National Inquiry into Mental Health Services Not for Service which resulted in the reform of, and major budgetary increases for mental health services across Australia. Likewise, Dr Ozdowski's work on disability and employment, dealing with disabled access to education, public transport and premises, helped to establish a range of industry standards and inclusive practices.

In addition, Dr Ozdowski published many articles and represented Australia in negotiations on the United Nations Convention o the Rights of People with Disabilities, at the UN Human Rights Commission and on a range of other assignments worldwide.

Between 1980-96 Dr Ozdowski worked within the Federal government portfolios of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Attorney General and Foreign Affairs where he played a major role in the advancement of Australia's key multicultural and human rights policies and institutions. Between 1996-2000, he headed the Office of Multicultural and International Affairs in South Australia.

Dr Ozdowski has an LLM and MA in Sociology from Poznan University, Poland and a PhD from the University of New England, Armidale. In 1984, Dr Ozdowski was awarded the Harkness Fellowship, which took him to Harvard and Georgetown Universities and the University of California to work on race relations, international human rights and public administration.

He also holds the academic appointment of Honorary Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Melbourne's RMIT University. For his service to the Polish community and furthering Australian Polish relations, Dr Ozdowski was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1995. He was also recognised for his outstanding contributions to the human rights movement in Poland and presented with the Solidarity Medal in 2006 and most recently with the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit by the Polish President.

For many years Dr Ozdowski has been involved with a range of voluntary organisations and since 2006 is President of the National Committee of Human Rights Education.

Selected publications


Why We Need an Australian Bill of Rights Now', Just Policy: A Journal of Australian Social Policy, 43 (April), 2007, 22-29.

'Protecting Democracy in Australia', Independent Education, 2007, 30-31.

University of Western Sydney 2007 Disability Review Report, Co-author. Sydney

Political Crossroads, volume 15, 2007, "Access, Inclusion and Success: Muslim Students in Australian Universities", Co-edited jointly with Joseph Zajda, Australian Catholic University

Human Rights and Mental Health, pp. 55-62 in New Paradigm. The Australian Journal of Psychological Rehabilitation. Special Issue, March, Melbourne

What Kind of Australia Do We Want? ACTU Journal, Melbourne


The Tragedy of Byelorussian Elections (in Polish), interview for the Dziennik Baltycki, 19 March 2006, Gdansk, Poland

Prawa Czlowieka w Australii in Polityka, March, Warsaw, Poland

Right to Representation, interview for Holyrod Journal, March, Edinburgh, Scotland

Discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) Report, February, Sydney
What Kind of Australia Do We Want? ACTU Journal, Melbourne


Rights of Passage; dialogue with young Australians about human rights, HREOC report, November, Sydney

Human Rights: A Report Card for Australia in Political Crossroads. Vol. 12( 3), pp. 71-88

Mental health: the problem is clear and so is the solution, Living Ethics, Issue 62, Summer

Mental Health Problem is Clear, So is the Solution, Canberra Times, 21 October

Disability and diversity, disparity ACROD Autumn, Canberra

Not for Service. Experiences of injustice and despair in mental health care in Australia, MHCA, BMRI and HREOC report, August, Sydney

WORKability - People with Disability in the Open Workplace, Interim HREOC Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, August, Sydney

Emigrant troche z wyboru, troche z przymusu, pp. 24-25 Forum Polonijne, Nr 1 (66), Lublin, Poland