Launch of ACON / WSU Greater Western Sydney LGBTQ + Scoping Study report

26 November 2020 (4:00pm - 5:00pm) via Zoom.

Join local community and Inclusion Network leaders, Western Sydney University and ACON who will share their vision for a safe and inclusive Greater Western Sydney.

Report title: Advancing LGBTQ+ Safety and Inclusion: Understanding the lived experiences and health needs of sexuality and gender diverse people in Greater Western Sydney.

The report provides insight into the experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ people living in Greater Western Sydney and presents locally identified approaches to improve the health, safety and inclusion of sexuality and gender diverse communities.

ACON Flyer

The Politicisation of Seeking Asylum
Manus Prison theory and Australia's response to asylum seekers

28 October 2020 (10:00 - 13:00)

Asylum seekers have occupied a particular place in the Australian national imaginary, particularly in the post-Tampa era after 2001. Over that time, successive Australian governments have pursued a militarised enforcement approach to national borders when it comes to people seeking asylum. This includes the implementation of ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ – the consolidation of a mandatory offshore detention and processing policy for anyone seeking asylum who arrives by boat and the controversial and dangerous ‘tow-back policy’. There has been a range of policy and legislative changes that have made seeking asylum in Australian more difficult, such as indefinite processing times, denying access to family reunion and government-funded legal assistance, and removing the right to independent reviews of refugee claims, among others. There are also operations that systematically censor information regarding asylum seekers - restricting media access to detention facilities, controlling information flows, and leveraging positions of power to manage the narrative. The most controversial and intractable has been the offshoring of immigration of detention to the countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea (Manus Island). The symposium will be informed by the Manus Prison theory that has been further developed by the analysis of former Manus detainee Behrouz Boochani and his translator and collaborator, Omid Tofighian.

This interdisciplinary symposium will therefore take an overtly political and innovative conceptual approach to this problem. Honouring, applying and extending the legacy of Behrouz and Omid’s work on Manus Prison theory, the symposium will highlight a body of work that seeks to examine these systems and structures so as to better understand how seeking asylum has been politicised in the Australian context, and what impact this has on Australian society more broadly.

Convenors: Rachel Sharples and Linda Briskman

Online Seminar - all welcome to this FREE event.

Register at Eventbrite: https://politicsseekasylum.eve

Challenging Racism Series
Human Right to Free Public Education and the Digital Divide

13 October 2020 (12:00 - 13:00)

Abstract: The right to free primary school education is a fundamental human right under international human rights law. However, education, including primary school education has not been free during the Covid-19 pandemic for many children in violation of Australia’s international obligations. Access to education has relied heavily on access to technology and the prohibitive cost of reliable internet has disadvantaged children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The pandemic has drawn attention to pre-existing equity issues and has highlighted the significant human rights implications of Australia’s digital divide.

Biography: Associate Professor Azadeh Dastyari is in the School of Law at Western Sydney University. She researches in the areas of human rights, refugee rights, law of the sea and constitutional law. She is currently working on the application of human rights principles during public health emergencies such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. Her research has a particular focus on the experiences of vulnerable groups such as older persons, Indigenous Australians and children.


Diversity and Creative Social Change Seminar
Covid19, Epistemological Diversity and Creative Practices

6 October 2020 (13:00 - 16:00)

Diversity and Creative Social Change Strand members, talk about their recent research experiences and work in progress.

Sarah de Nardi: Visualising racialised pandemic inequalities: adapting a creative method of open mapping and place-based artwork to disclose migrant and refugee communities challenges during COVID-19.
My talk outlines work in progress and an agenda for future work on the theme of place-based learning and its implications for opening up more democratic ecologies of urban spaces. After a brief review of ongoing work with young migrants in Italy, I move on to articulate an upcoming project on migrant experiences of COVID-19 spatial restrictions and inequalities.

Jane Mears: Experiences of Older Women during the COVID 19 Pandemic: Sharing community based initiatives and creative solutions
The COVID 19 Pandemic coupled with the initial findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability, have exposed intolerable injustices and inequalities in aged and disability care in Australia.  There are daily calls for a total overhaul of this broken system. This paper looks at ways older women are building on decades of activism implementing successful community based initiatives and solutions to suggest ways to overhaul this system and envisage a future society that includes and nurtures us all.

Spyros Schismenos, Cymbeline Buhler, Supriya Gurung, Nidhi Wali, Charles Ball (HDR students, HADRI): ‘Side by Side’ for COVID recovery: De-Stigmatising ageing and re-integrating elders as valued contributors to society
We are an HDR group within the HADRI research cluster (Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative). We developed a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, proposing the 'Side by Side' initiative. Our presentation will speak to the submission itself, to our process of developing it and to our experiences of becoming a cross-disciplinary writing team, working 'side by side' with each other.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis in aged care, we propose ‘Side by Side’, an initiative led by a consortium of community and professional stakeholders. ‘Side by Side’ aims to boost cross-generational participation in elders’ lives, activate local and collective support structures, and position elders as community assets.

Bronwyn Davies, Susanne Gannon and Sheridan Linnell: Corona diaries - a performative reading of work in progress.  
Since April this year,  Bronwyn, Sue and Sheridan have been meeting early in the morning, mostly every week,  to exchange writing and images. We began in response to an invitation from three colleagues in the UK who have similarly engaged with each other in 'Quarantine conversations'. The genre here might be creative nonfiction; the methodology a collective iteration of critical autoethnography/ writing as inquiry; the onto-epistemological slant, new materialism and feminist affect theory; the ethic, one of friendship; the practice, one of sustaining hope and connection in the face of isolation and lockdown. Mostly though, we write our 'selves' and our relationships with each other and every-thing into existence, while endlessly questioning what on earth it is we are doing.

Book Launches

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 (4.30pm - 6.00pm)

Book Launch Nov 2020

Spaces of Solidarity, by Rachel Sharples Dr Rachel Sharples is a Sociologist in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. Her research areas include displaced persons, refugees and migrants in local and global settings, the construction and projection of ethnicity, culture and identity, and statelessness, citizenship and belonging. Recent publications include claims of anti-white racism in Australia, discrimination in sharing economy platforms and conceptualising borderlands spaces.

Multicultural Responsiveness in Counselling and Psychology, edited by Susan Sisko and Vicki Hutton
Dr Susan Sisko is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and a career psychologist. She is a member of the Challenging Racism Project and her research areas include cultural responsiveness in mental health and social justice. Susan is passionate about changing the debate by shifting blame from vulnerable and non-dominant groups to exploring systemics issues as related to quality of care and in the inequity gap in accessing mental health services.

This book will be launched by Linda Briskman
Professor Linda Briskman is the Margaret Whitlam Chair of Social Work at Western Sydney University. She is an experienced academic and human rights social worker. Her fields of expertise are Indigenous rights; asylum seekers/refugees; and racism, particularly Islamophobia.

This book will be launched by Nida Denson
Dr Nida Denson is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Western Sydney University. She is a member of the Challenging Racism Project, and Sexualities and Gender Research (SaGR). Nida's research focuses on people from underrepresented minority groups (such as people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, sexuality and gender diverse youth) in a variety of contexts, and the factors that improve or hinder their well-being and development.

Register via Eventbrite: or send an email to

Previous Book Launches

Thorneycroft, R (2020) Reimagining Disablist and Ableist Violence as Abjection, Routledge, London and New York.

Nicholas, Lucy (2020), 'Introduction to special issue on non-binary and genderqueer ethics and politics' Journal of Sexual Ethics and Politics (free, open access)