Staff Snapshot: Sev Ozdowski

Sev Ozdowski

Dr Sev Ozdowski AM is Director, Equity and Diversity within the Division of People and Advancement and is based on Werrington North campus.

When did you start working at Western and what was your first role?
In October 2006 I accepted the position as Director, Equity and Diversity. At that stage my office was located on Hawkesbury campus.

Describe your current role:
I am responsible for the advancement of a culture of inclusion, mutual respect and justice across the University. This includes the development of a host of new policies, programs and training to deal with the issues of harassment, bullying, racism, unlawful discrimination, adjustment for people with disabilities, homophobia, equal employment opportunity and a range of ethical and mental health issues. My job also involves occasional inquiries, participation on appeals and promotion panels, and making contributions to public discussion in Western Sydney through the Western Sydney University Open Fora series, which I established on my commencement in 2006. I am also an active member of the University's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander's Engagement and Employment Advisory Board and the Vice-Chancellor's Gender Equality Committee.

What's the best thing about your job?
Firstly, the ability to make major contributions to the University's standing both in Western Sydney and internationally. Secondly, being able to contribute to the advancement of social justice and equity ethos across the University through initiatives such as the 2009 Year of Respect and Inclusion, 2013 Year of Success through Diversity, 2014 Bystander Anti-Racism projects, and the establishment of the Ally Network.

What do you love most about working at the University?
The freedom the University gives me to continue my activities in the field of human rights. For example, I was able to initiate a series of International Human Rights Education (IHRE) Conferences with the first conference being held at Western Sydney University in 2010; the second in Durban, South Africa in 2011; the third at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, in 2012; the fourth at Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan, in 2013; the fifth in Washington DC in 2014; and the sixth in Middleburg, Holland. The 2016 IHRE Conference is planned for Chile. I believe that these conferences have significantly contributed to the advancement of human rights education worldwide.

What are you going to be working on in the next 12 months?
More of the same, but the priorities are securing the 2016 citation 'Employer of Choice for Gender Equality' from the Federal Government – in 2014, the University was one of only 76 organisations in Australia to receive it – and for the first time to secure the Pride in Diversity award for our LGBTIQ practices. I would also like to organise two national conferences - one dealing with social cohesion, and another to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. In 2018, I hope to bring the 9th IHRE Conference back to the University to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Human Rights Declaration.

Dr Ozdowski is also Adjunct Professor of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council, an advisory body to the Australian Government on multicultural issues and programmes.  From 2000 to 2005, he was the Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Since 2006, he has been President of the Australian Council for Human Rights Education. Dr Ozdowski's work is recognised through various Australian and international honours, including his appointment as an Order of Australia Member in 2016, an honorary doctorate from Melbourne's RMIT University and the Rotary International Paul Harris Recognition Award for human rights work.