Directors

Azadeh Dastyari

Azadeh Dastyari

Dr Azadeh Dastyari is Associate Professor in the School of Law at Western Sydney University. Azadeh’s research spans human rights, refugee rights, law of the sea and constitutional law. She has written widely about the impact of laws and policies on vulnerable groups such as refugees and asylum seekers. She is a Chief Investigator on the Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies (CONREP), a project co-funded by the European Union under the Eramus+ Programme - Jean Monnet Activities (599660 EPP-1-2018-1-AU-EPPJMO-NETWORK). CONREP, in part, examines the human rights implications of externalisation policies carried out by European States and Australia on vulnerable groups such as refugees, irregular migrants and stateless persons.  Azadeh has been a consultant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and is regularly sought by both Australian and international media for comment on human rights issues.

Catherine Renshaw

Catherine Renshaw

Dr Catherine Renshaw is Professor in the School of Law at Western Sydney University. Catherine’s research spans freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, women’s rights, minority rights and human rights in the Asia Pacific. She has written widely about the theory, policy and practice of human rights. Her publications include five books and numerous journal articles and reports. Her research has been funded by the Community of Democracies, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Rotary International. She has facilitated human rights training for a number of government and professional bodies around the world, lectured widely and carried out first-hand human rights field research in a number of countries including Myanmar, Jordan, Samoa, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea. She is a regular contributor to the media on human rights matters.

Jennifer Whelan

Jennifer Whelan

Jenni Whelan is the Director of the WSU Justice Clinic. Jenni’s human rights research has involved analysis of the relationship between NHRI legislative   provisions and the realisation of rights in practice, worker rights to carer’s leave, the proscription of hate speech in Australia, comparative analysis of State responses to unaccompanied child asylum seekers in the Asia-Pacific region, legal redress for migrant domestic workers in Malaysia and children’s right to participation.  Jenni’s PhD research in human rights relates to the promises and limits of international human rights law to respond appropriately to the complex vulnerabilities of unaccompanied child asylum seekers through the provision of adequate environments of care, access to special assistance in processing their claim for asylum and the provision of guardianship. Jenni works with Western Sydney University Justice Clinic students on human rights research and project work targeting law reform and increasing access to justice.

  

Board of Advisors

Andrew Byrnes

Andrew Byrnes

Andrew Byrnes is Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, where he served as Chair of the Australian Human Rights Centre from 2005 to 2017. He teaches and writes in the fields of public international law, human rights, and international criminal/humanitarian law. His work includes publications on women’s human rights, gender and human rights, United Nations human rights treaty bodies, national human rights institutions, economic and social rights, peoples' tribunals and international law, and the incorporation of human rights standards in domestic law. He has previously taught at the University of Sydney, the University of Hong Kong and the Australian National University. With Gabrielle Simm he recently published the edited collection Peoples’ tribunals and international law (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and forthcoming publications includes chapters on the work of the UN Committee on the Discrimination against Women and the UN Committee against Torture, as well as the protection of economic and social rights through the parliamentary process

Anna Cody

Anna Cody

Professor Anna Cody has worked in human rights in a range of fora and methodologies over the last 25 years.  During her work at the University of New South Wales, Kingsford Legal Centre, she developed a specialisation in anti-discrimination law and has contributed to numerous law reform initiatives at state level and nationally to improve the anti-discrimination law regime. Most recently she was co-author of a report into the experience of vulnerable participants in conciliation proceedings (Having my Voice Heard, Fair practices in Discrimination conciliations). She has also documented human rights abuses through non-governmental organisation (NGO) reports which were presented to United Nations human rights committees.  She has made submissions before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, the Human Rights Committee and contributed to the Universal Periodic Review of Australia.  Professor Cody has also worked internationally in the area of human rights with the Center for Economic and Social Rights in New York, as well as in Mexico in the area of migrant rights and disability rights.

Jonathon Hunyor 

Jonathon Hunyor 

Jonathon Hunyor is the CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. He has practised law for over 20 years in NSW and the Northern Territory, in areas including criminal law, discrimination and human rights, migration and refugee law and Aboriginal land rights. Prior to joining PIAC is 2016, Jonathon was the Principal Legal Officer at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in Darwin from 2010-2016; Director of Legal Services at the Australian Human Rights Commission; and worked as a lawyer at the Central Land Council in Alice Springs and the NT Legal Aid Commission in Darwin. Jonathon is a Director of the Australian Pro Bono Centre, has taught discrimination law at the University of NSW and has published widely in academic and professional journals.

Paul Saunders 

Paul Saunders

Dr Paul Saunders is a proud Biripi man with family connections to  the Kamilaroi nation. He was born and raised in Campbelltown. Dr Saunders holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and has recently completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) through Western Sydney University. He  has experience in clinical medicine, medical devices, and Aboriginal health research, including research project management. His research experience is broad, encompassing clinical and social health research, primarily relating to surgical prosthesis efficacy and Indigenous models of healthcare. Dr Saunders thrives off teaching his indigenous brothers and sisters about health and disease, and takes pride in witnessing their knowledge, skills and confidence grow. He is also passionate about enhancing cultural competence among non-indigenous Australians.

Elaine Pearson 

Elaine Pearson

Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch, based in Sydney. She established Human Rights Watch’s Australia office in 2013 and works to influence Australian foreign and domestic policies in order to give them a human rights dimension. Pearson writes frequently for a range of publications and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, Foreign Policy and the Washington Post. From 2007 to 2012 she was the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division based in New York. She has conducted numerous human rights investigations in Australia and around the world. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Pearson worked for the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and London.

Marius Smith

Marius Smith

Marius Smith is the CEO of VACRO, the only specialist service provider to clients of Victoria’s correctional system. VACRO supports people in contact with the criminal justice system and their families to safely and successfully integrate into their communities.  Prior to commencing at VACRO in 2019, Marius managed Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, a globally respected human rights policy, public education and research hub. He has also worked as a lawyer at a number of commercial law firms, worked with refugees in the Philippines, and managed an aid and development program in Sudan and Eritrea.

Shukufa Tahiri

Shukufa Tahiri

Shukufa Tahiri is a Policy Officer with the Refugee Council of Australia and the Vice Chair of the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG). Her work involves policy analysis, research and advocacy on issues affecting people seeking asylum and refugees. She is an executive director at Akademos Society, a charity that helps fund the education of girls and youth including child labourers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She was chosen by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as one of the two Australian civil society representative to attend the month long UN Human Rights Council session 40 in Geneva.  Amnesty International Australia recognised her as one of the 15 women championing human rights in Australia in 2017. The Australian Financial Review has also named her as one of 2018’s 100 women of influence in Australia.

Members

Amira Aftab

Amira Aftab

Dr Amira Aftab is a Lecturer in the School of Law at Western Sydney University. Her research examines the tensions that arise between the often-competing rights of religious freedom and gender equality. This appears most prominently in the context of Western multicultural states, where minority religious groups request greater recognition and accommodation of religious laws and practises. More expansive religious accommodation is frequently argued to be incompatible with protecting and upholding the rights of women, particularly minority women. Amira draws on theories of feminist institutionalism to examine the way that these debates around greater religious freedom (particularly the Sharia debates), and the subsequent concerns for women’s rights, are shaped by formal and informal institutions. More broadly, Amira’s research interests span minority rights, women’s rights, and SOGI rights, particularly in relation to anti-discrimination laws in Australia.

Sonia Allan

Sonia Allan

Professor Sonia Allan's research focuses on the regulation of contentious areas of health research and practice, emerging health technologies, and public and global health law. As a Global Health Law Fellow, at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. she won the CALI award for Health and Human Rights Law. Sonia has undertaken extensive research on the regulation of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), surrogacy and donor conception and related health and human rights issues. She has contributed to numerous legislative reviews in this regard, and led reviews in South Australia and Western Australia having been appointed by respective Ministers for Health. She was an invited presenter in November 2019 at the United Nations Palais Des Nations for the 30th Anniversary on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, where she led a group of donor-conceived people to the United Nations to speak of their lived experiences of being denied access to information relevant to their identity and familial relations.

Maria Bhatti

Maria Bhatti

Maria Bhatti researches Islamic law, including the role that Islamic law plays in the contemporary world in the context of Islamic finance and women's rights. Her recent book Islamic Law and International Commercial Arbitration proposes that ShariĘża can effectively apply to and harmoniously exist with international commercial arbitration if its rules on arbitration are further developed, and if there is mutual respect and recognition between Islamic law and international law.

Meda Couzens 

Meda Couzens

Dr Meda Couzens conducts research in the area of children's rights, both domestically and internationally. Although for the last few years her work has focused on the application of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by domestic courts, Meda has researched many other issues, the most recent being anti-terrorism legislation and measures and the rights of children, harmful cultural practices, the best interests of the child, and children's rights in constitutional law, to name just a few. Meda has experience and interest in children's rights in the developing world.

Caroline Compton 

Caroline Compton

Dr Caroline Compton is a lecturer at the Western Sydney University School of Law. Caroline studies the operation of plural normative systems, employing an interdisciplinary approach and ethnographic methods. She has two current research projects. The first examines the adaptation of property regimes as a result of climate displacement. The second explores the ways the use of digital data is transforming developmental and humanitarian governance. Caroline received an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship to undertake doctoral fieldwork in the Philippines. Caroline has published in journals including Regulation and Governance, Critical Asian Studies, and NYU Journal of International Law and Politics.

Patrick Foong 

Patrick Foong

Dr Patrick Foong’s research interest lies in the regulation of emerging biotechnologies, such as human genome editing and stem cell research/ therapy. In his publications, Patrick argues that the current Australian law on human genome editing must keep up with scientific progress. We have to explore appropriate ways to realise the potential of this potent technology ethically. To secure human rights, the ethical regulatory framework should be established based on public participation, sound principles to guide future application and the adoption of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (proposed by the Innovative Genomic Institute of the University of California). The way forward, if supported by the Australian public, could entail an amendment of the legislation (Section 15(1) of the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002) that makes it explicitly clear that the conduct of human germline activity by scientists solely for research purposes is allowed under very stringent conditions. The unprecedented potential, as well as peril of this novel technology, deserve cautious deliberation by all.

Beatriz Garcia 

Beatriz Garcia

Dr Beatriz Garcia  holds a PhD in International Law from The Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland. She is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator. Beatriz has joined the School of Law at Western Sydney University (WSU) in 2017. Prior to WSU, she has worked for Forests Alive, a carbon markets company based in Sydney, and also for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. She has also conducted consultancy work for various United Nations’ agencies and environmental NGOs. Her areas of research are climate change law and carbon markets, forests, indigenous peoples, marine pollution and international shipping. She has recently received a grant from UNESCO to develop a comparative law study on biosphere reserve zonation in the Asia Pacific region (with Professor Donna Craig) (2018-2019). She was also an awardee of the WSU Women’s Research Fellowship (2018-2019) to conduct research on international shipping and greenhouse gas emissions. This research was published by Oxford’s Journal of Environmental Law in 2020. Beatriz writes extensively on forests and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Elizabeth Handsley 

Elizabeth Handsley

Professor Elizabeth Handsley conducts research on the human rights of children as media users. In this work she applies both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. She has published in the International Journal of Children’s Rights and UNSW Law Journal on food advertising regulation, and co-authored the chapter on Article 17 of the CROC in the recently published Oxford University Press Commentary on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (2019) ISBN 9780198262657. She has also advised UNICEF Australia on children’s rights in relation to advertising and co-hosted a conference, with the National Commissioner for Children and Young People, on the Rights of the Child Consumer (2015).

Daud Hassan 

Daud Hassan

Associate Professor Daud Hassan conducts research on climate change, human rights and environmental security. In this work he applies the core international instruments relating to human rights such as the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. His work has been published in the Environmental Policy and Law Journal and the Indian Journal International Law. These publications are focused on climate change and related human rights violation and the legal controversy of the status of the unborn child in international human rights law respectively. In addition to ocean governance, he supervises HDR students in the area of climate change and human rights law.

Michael Head 

Michael Head

Professor Michael Head’s research focus is on the defence of human rights, particularly basic democratic rights, against police-state developments. His most recent book in this area is Domestic Military Powers, Law and Human Rights: Calling out the Armed Forces' (Routledge, 2020). He has also written extensively on military call-out powers, emergency powers, the power to declare war, and crimes against the state. He is currently writing a book, jointly with a Southern Cross University colleague, on ‘Democracy and the Right to Protest’, to be published by Routledge in 2022.  Professor Head has also published numerous journal articles and book chapters on human rights issues.

Sarah Hook 

Sarah Hook

Dr Sarah Hook researches on freedom of speech and privacy. Her latest two articles with co-author Sandy Noakes looked at the freedom of speech and privacy concerns of employees on social media. Dr Hook recently compiled a consultation paper written by the academics of the law school (led by Professor Renshaw) for the Human Rights Commission project looking at Human Rights and Technology. Dr Hook was also asked to attend a Human Rights Roundtable discussion on human rights by design.

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Thilla Rajaretnam

Dr Thilla Rajaretnam research interest is in the field of privacy as a fundamental human right. She writes on privacy protection laws and regulation, issues related to personal data and personal information privacy, privacy policies in business transaction and the impact of personal data breaches on individual privacy rights, and issues related to cybersecurity and cybercrimes. Thilla contributes to the School of Law’s research seminar series on privacy issues. She has also contributed to School of Law’s submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission on AI, Technology, and Human Right. Thilla is a member of the Asia-Pacific Privacy Scholars Network (APSN) and contributes regularly to APSN research activities and conferences.