The Network for Law and Human Rights hosts a range of events throughout the year.



An Address by the Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP

Date: 18 November 2022 Time: 12:00 PM– 2:00 PM AEDT

Location: Building EA, Ground Level, Room 18, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South Campus Corner of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road, Rydalmere  NSW, Australia

The Hon Mark Drefus KC MP

You are warmly invited to attend an address by the Commonwealth Attorney-General (opens in a new window), the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, jointly hosted by the Network for Law and Human Rights within the School of Law at Western Sydney University, and the Whitlam Institute.

The Labor government was elected in May 2022 on an ambitious program of law reform. The new government has committed to the establishment of a national anti-corruption commission, a new process for judicial appointments, and a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament. The implications of these and other reforms for the legal profession and Australian society are far-reaching.

Please join us in a discussion with the Attorney-General about how these reforms will shape legal policy and practice in the years to come. We welcome members of the legal profession, law students and the wider Western Sydney University community, and members of the public, to this important event.


The Hon Mark Drefus KC MP

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP was appointed Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 June 2022.

He was first elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Isaacs in November 2007.

The Attorney-General is a passionate defender of the rule of law, freedom of the press and the need for a powerful and independent national anti-corruption commission. He is also a strong advocate for social justice and believes in creating a sustainable economy and environment for future generations.

Speaking for the first time as Attorney-General, he said "Australia's legal system should provide a framework that allows us to protect and care for all Australians, including our elderly, our sick, our injured, our workers, our new arrivals, our Indigenous people, our young and our outspoken writers, artists and journalists."

"The best Attorneys-General are those who seek to ensure that Australian laws reflect our national values of fairness and equality of opportunity."

Racialised Pandemic: Establishing a Community-Research Agenda

Date: Thursday, 8 September 2022 Time: 12:00-1:30PM

Racism associated with the COVI-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected certain groups in Australia. This pandemic has highlighted the impact of structural racism in public health emergencies as evident in disparities in exposure, susceptibility, and treatment of the novel coronavirus along racial lines.  The aim of this panel is to centre the communities that experienced racism and to draw on the social sciences to discuss a community-research agenda for addressing the problem of racism generated by the pandemic and broader continuing inequality in Western Sydney. Looking at the multidimensional nature of racism, specifically structural racism, from an interdisciplinary perspective, we will draw on geography, sociology, social work and law, in order to respond to the needs of the communities who experience racism.


Community Panel

Sheila Ngoc Pham -  writer, editor, producer and scholar working across radio, print, online and screen.

Bahir Akbari – law student at Western Sydney University.

Academic Panel

Associate Professor Azadeh Dastyari –  School of Law at Western Sydney University.

Professor Linda Briskman – Margaret Whitlam Chair of Social Work and Community Welfare at Western Sydney University and Professor of Social Work.

Dr Rhonda Itaoui – researcher and lecturer in Social Sciences (Human Geography/Urban Planning) at Western Sydney University.

Dr Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath – research officer for the Institute of Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.

Social Sciences Week

Career Chats: Jobs in Human Rights Advocacy in Australia

Date: Wednesday, 30 March 2022 Time: 5:30-6:30PM


Lizzie O'Shea

Lizzie O'Shea

Lizzie has spent many years working in public interest litigation, on cases brought on behalf of refugees and activists, among others. She is the founder and the chair of Digital Rights Watch, which advocates for human rights online. Lizzie also sit on the board of Blueprint for Free Speech and the Alliance for Gambling Reform.  Lizzie has been a recipient of the Davis Projects for Peace Prize for her work with  the National Justice Project to establish a Copwatch program. In June 2019 Lizzie was named a Human Rights Hero by Access Now. Her book, Future Histories (Verso, 2019) was shortlisted for the Premier’s Literary Award.

Hollie Johnston

Hollie Johnston

Hollie is a Senior Adviser in International Humanitarian Law at Australian Red Cross Society. She is responsible for public outreach, including broad IHL dissemination initiatives such as the IHL and Game of Thrones project, and the protection of the distinctive emblems in Australia.  Prior to joining Australian Red Cross in 2018, Hollie worked in private law firms on domestic and international civil disputes and supported the Restoring Family Links and In Search of Safety Programs. She holds a Masters in Public and International Law from the University of Melbourne.

2021 Human Rights Day Address: Human Rights in Western Sydney

Date: 10 December 2021 Time: 11:00 AM– 12:00 PM AEDT
Speaker: Mr Jihad Dib

Mr Jihad Dib is the member for Lakemba in the NSW Legislative Assembly. He is Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change.  Prior to joining parliament, Mr Dib was the Principal of Punchbowl Boys' High School in Sydney's South West. His philosophy of having his students actively engage with the wider community led to significant reduction in absenteeism, increased morale, surging enrolments and much-improved academic results in the school community.

In this Human Rights Address Mr Dib will speak about the needs of people in Western Sydney and how we can best ensure the protection of human rights in the area.

Azadeh DastyariAzadeh DastyariCatherine-RenshawCatherine RenshawJennifer_WhelanJennifer Whelan

The WSU Network for Law and Human Rights: research for human rights impact

Date: Thu, 28 October 2021 Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM AEDT

On the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt, Chair of the Commission of the United Nations, gave a speech called ‘Where Do Human Rights Begin’? She captured why human rights are relevant in our daily lives:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works.

This presentation, by Az Dastyari, Catherine Renshaw and Jenni Whelan from the School of Law, examines the principles that are needed to guide human rights research ‘in small places’. They argue that research must be (i) designed to advance the realisation of human rights (ii) adopt methods and approaches that are themselves human rights-based (iii) contribute to capacity development of duty-bearers or rights holders. In a tryptic of research vignettes, the presenters illuminate the challenges and potential benefits of research that is grounded in attentiveness to small places: and to the complex histories and cultures that shape them.


Date: Monday, 30 August Time: 7.00 pm

In August 2001, the MV Tampa, a Norwegian container ship, rescued 433 asylum seekers and refugees from a distressed Indonesian fishing boat. The Tampa attempted to disembark its vulnerable passengers in the closest country, Australia, but was denied permission to enter Australian waters. The ‘Tampa incident’ became the catalyst for strengthened border security measures including boat turnbacks and the offshore transfer of refugees and asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia to Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Twenty years after the ‘Tampa incident’, boat turnbacks and laws mandating extraterritorial processing and detention of asylum seekers and refugees continues. Marking the 20th anniversary of the Tampa incident, this event will discuss what happened then and what continues to happen today.

Abbas Nazari 

Abbas Nazari, Fulbright scholar and author rescued by the Tampa as a young  asylum seeker in 2001.

Julian Burnside 

Julian Burnside AO QC, Australian barrister, author, human rights and refugee advocate, Senior Counsel for Liberty Victoria  in the Tampa litigation.

Behrouz Boochani 

Behrouz Boochani, journalist, human rights defender, writer, film producer, former detainee on Manus Island detention centre

David Marr 

David Marr, Award winning journalist, author and commentator.

David Dungay Jr and Black Deaths in Custody

David Dungay Jr, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man from Kempsey died in Sydney’s Long Bay jail on 29 December 2015 after five prison guards held him face down and had him injected with a sedative during a cell transfer. The cell transfer was undertaken after Dungay, who was also a diabetic, refused to stop eating a packet of biscuits. Footage of the incident shown to a court revealed that before losing consciousness, David could be heard repeating multiple times that he couldn’t breathe. However these calls went unanswered by the prison staff who restrained him.


Elizabeth Jarrett

Elizabeth Jarrett is a Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Dunghutti poet, educator and activist who plays a central role in protest movements for First Nations justice, including the recent Black Lives Matter protests on Gadigal land (Sydney). Lizzie advocates every day for First Nations families facing oppression and violence.

Paul Silva

Paul Silva is a proud Dunghutti man from Kempsey NSW and the nephew of David Dungay Jnr.  He has fought tirelessly for the establishment of an independent body to investigate deaths in custody, and for those responsible for the death of Mr Dungay to be held accountable.

George Newhouse

George Newhouse is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University and the Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project a not-for profit law firm he co-founded in 2016. More information about the Justice Project can be found at: George's life’s work centres on fighting institutional racism and giving voice and legal support to the most vulnerable. George acts for the Dungay family.

Event Details:

Time and Date: 12pm on Wednesday 12 May 2021

Venue: WSU Parramatta South Campus, Moot Court, Building EO, Room G.44

Dr Scott Avery 

GAZA 2021: Truth, Proportionality and Crimes under International Law

Speakers: Professor Ben Saul and Professor Catherine Renshaw

Date: 21 May 2021 Time: 2.00 pm

This Seminar explored the doctrine of proportionality under international humanitarian law and its application in the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The seminar discussed the scope of the humanitarian disaster and the responsibility of the international community to address the human suffering in Gaza. Finally, the seminar considered the prospects for accountability in the International Criminal Court.

In May 2021, conflict between Israel and Palestine erupted into cross-border rocket-fire by Palestinian militants and Israeli airstrikes targeting the Gaza Strip. To date, the conflict has killed more than 200 Palestinians, among them 63 children. More than 50,000 Palestinians have been displaced. In Israel, the conflict has killed 12 people, Including one child. Both sides claim that their actions are a proportionate response to the threat from the other side. The UN Security Council has failed to issue a statement on the violence.

Dr Scott Avery 

Indigenous Disability

Speaker: Dr Scott Avery

Date: 17 February 2021 Time: 1pm RSVP:

Dr Scott Avery is an Indigenous disability researcher and advocate on health and social inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. He has undertaken extensive community-based research whilst with the First Peoples Disability Network, a non-government organisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families, and in 2018 authored the publication 'Culture is Inclusion: A narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability' (2018) based on his research.

Robyn Oxley 

Network for Law and Human Rights Human Rights Day Speakers Series

Black Lives Matter in Australia Speaker: Robyn Oxley

Date: Thursday, 10 December 2020 Time: 11:00am RSVP:

Robyn Oxley is a Tharawal woman from SouthWest Sydney with family connections to Yorta Yorta from Echuca and Shepparton. Robyn is an activist and academic in the space of the criminal justice system and Aboriginal rights to self-determination. Her work is primarily focused on human rights, social justice and improving the outcomes of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system.
Robyn is based at Western Sydney University as a lecturer in Criminology. In 2018 she began her Masters by Research in Criminology, examining the difference between inclusion and self-determination of pre- and post-release support programs for Aboriginal people in Victoria. This has developed further to look at how New South Wales provides the Aboriginal community with the necessary tools, support and space to practice self-determination. Robyn’s research interests include Aboriginal affairs within the criminal justice system, self determination, Aboriginal women's imprisonment and family violence prevention, prisons, and Victorian corrections.

Launch of the Western Sydney University Network for Law and Human Rights

Researching for Change: Empowering Affected Communities through High Impact Research

Date: 17 February 2021 
Time: 12.30 pm - 3.00 pm
Venue: Sahra By The River Restaurant, 2/76 Phillip St, Parramatta

Samah Shda

Samah Shda is an Iraqi Assyrian refugee who arrived in Australia in 2019. Samah grew up in Baghdad and experienced the aftermath of the 2003 war and was part of the refugee aid efforts during the 2014 refugee crisis caused by the Islamic State invasion in northern Iraq. Samah has been directly involved with refugee resettlement organisations and refugee-led national advocacy networks representing the Iraqi community. Samha is currently leading a research project focused on refugee access to higher education in Australia in collaboration with multiple refugee advocacy and resettlement organizations. Samah is using her own experience and story to raise awareness on the global refugee crisis.

Rick Welsh

Rick Welsh is a Gomeroi/Murrawarri man from north western NSW and has spent a lot of his life living on the traditional land of the Eora Nation. Rick is the manager of The Shed, a Western Sydney community based project that implements early intervention across legal sectors: family law, crime, child care and protection and housing. Rick builds stakeholder partnerships to facilitate holistic therapeutic interventions that minimise negative outcomes and generate systematic changes to achieve trauma informed responses for clients. Rick was the recipient of the 2017 Aboriginal Justice Award from the NSW Law Foundation.