News

What is Australia's responsibility to asylum seekers?


23 April 2010

To mark the introduction of a new Masters degree in Human Rights and Democratisation, the University of Sydney's Faculty of Arts will host a free public seminar this Thursday on a critical human rights question - what is Australia's responsibility to those who seek asylum on our shores?

To mark the introduction of a new Masters degree in Human Rights and Democratisation, the University of Sydney's Faculty of Arts will host a free public seminar this Thursday on a critical human rights question - what is Australia's responsibility to those who seek asylum on our shores?

With a looming federal election, the question of how to treat asylum seekers has once again taken centre stage in Australian politics. While fears grow of a population explosion in Australia, continuing conflict in Asia, Africa and the Middle East drives individuals and families to search out safe havens on our shores.

In a seminar particularly geared towards helping people make sense of the asylum seeker issue, the legal, moral, political and economic dimensions of the refugee debate will be explained and discussed. The aim is to equip people with the knowledge to consider what type of responsibility we do have to those seeking refuge here.

Speakers at the seminar will include:

University of Sydney Human Rights lecturer Susan Banki

Dr Banki has extensive experience researching migrant and refugee populations in countries of resettlement and first asylum, and has actively participated in meetings such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' annual consultations with NGOs, and the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement. She recently completed in-depth field research on refugee and asylum seeker populations from Burma, Bhutan, and Bangladesh and was the primary author of a recent Department of Immigration and Citizenship report on mechanisms to solve immigration status.

Former settlement worker from Sudan, Mujahid Ahmed

Mujahid Ahmed is originally from the Sudan but spent a large part of his life in the Middle East. He has lived in Australia for nine years and worked for a variety of refugee settlement organisations and agencies including the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).

In January 2005, Mujahid started guest-speaking and performing stand-up comedy. Since then he has regularly appeared on programs ranging from Stateline to Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. Mujahid is the only professional Sudanese public speaker and comedian in the world and is also a regular contributor to The Advertiser, The Herald Sun, and Multicultural Mental Health Australia.

Jesuit Refugee Service Thailand's National - Legal and Communications Officer Anna Samson

Anna Samson is a former Law and Economics (Social Sciences) student of the University of Sydney. She has worked for a range of organisations promoting refugee protection including A Just Australia, the Refugee Council of Australia, the Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Thailand.

The University's new Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia-Pacific Regional Program) will begin in June. The University received 1.5 million Euro from the European Commission to establish the course which will constitute the first networked human rights program in the Asia-Pacific. The degree involves students studying at the University of Sydney, as well as one of four other leading universities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Event details:
Seminar: What is Australia's responsibility to those who seek asylum on our shores?
Date/Time: Thursday April 22, 1-2pm
Venue: New Law School Lecture Theatre 026 - Level 0 Law Building (access via the Law Annexe), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown campus, University of Sydney

All welcome.

Media inquiries: Sarah Stock, 0419 278 715, sarah.stock@sydney.edu.au