Can we solve the asylum seeker crisis? (Sat) Guardian Workshop

Geoff Gilbert, Jane McAdam, David Marr (host), Daniel Webb, and Shukufa Tahiri

  • 03 Sep 2016, 11am - allocation exhausted Utzon Room

Join the Guardian's David Marr and a range of national and international experts on refugee policies to explore alternative solutions to the current situation for asylum seekers in Australia. This two-hour forum encourages you to question, debate, and test the current policies and the alternative perspectives presented - bring your thinking caps and a willingness to contribute! How would you tackle the problem?

We have selected a panel of experts, experienced in international law, domestic policy, and the global forced migration situation to articulate alternative policy perspectives. After time for questions, we will break into facilitated groups to explore and test these ideas. Each group will then present their key policy proposal and suggest actions and pathways forward. We like to call this collective activism.

The panel will consist of representatives from the following organisations: Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, and the Human Rights Law Centre.


The Guardian Forum is generously supported by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.


Geoff Gilbert is a Professor of Law in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He has been Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law since 2002. He is author of ‘Current Issues in the Application of the Exclusion Clauses’ in Feller, Türk and Nicholson, Refugee Protection in International Law (2003), part of UNHCR’s Global Consultations on the 50th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention. In 2014 he was appointed a consultant to UNHCR with Anna Magdalena Rüsch on ‘Rule of Law: Engagement for Solutions’ and is part of the Solutions Alliance Thematic Group on Rule of Law. In 2016, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung invited him to present papers in Manila and Canberra on refugee solutions in the region. He has written extensively on international refugee law, international criminal law and international human rights law.


Jane McAdam is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW. She is a non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, and an Associated Senior Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway. Professor McAdam publishes widely in international refugee law and forced migration, with a particular focus on climate change and mobility. She is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law, the leading journal in the field. Professor McAdam serves on a number of international committees, and has provided expert advice to organizations including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Organization for Migration, and the World Bank. She holds a doctorate in law from the University of Oxford, and first class honours degrees in law and history from the University of Sydney. In 2013, she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2015, she was honoured as one of Australia's top ten Women of Influence, winning the ‘global’ category of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence awards.


David Marr has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Monthly, been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners, presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch and now writes for The Guardian. His books include Patrick White: A Life, The High Price of Heaven, Dark Victory (with Marian Wilkinson) and five Quarterly Essays: His Master’s Voice, Power Trip, Political Animal, The Prince and Faction Man.


Daniel Webb is the Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy. He leads much of the centre’s work defending the rights of people seeking asylum and people in all forms of detention. Daniel’s recent work includes High Court challenges to the Australian Government’s offshore detention regime (Plaintiff M68) and its secretive detention of 157 people at sea beneath the deck of an Australian customs ship (CPCF), as well as the #LetThemStay campaign run in partnership with GetUp! and the Australian Churches for Refugees Taskforce. Daniel has travelled to Manus Island twice to inspect the detention centre and transit facility. By investigating conditions on the ground he helped shine a light on the darkest corners of Australia’s immigration detention network. Prior to joining the HRLC Daniel was a senior lawyer with Victoria Legal Aid, specialising in mental health and disability advocacy, and for 12 months was The People’s Lawyer in the Republic of Kiribati. His NGO experience includes internships with the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights in Phnom Penh and Transparency International in Port Moresby, PNG. Daniel has also worked at the Yamatji Land and Sea Council and Pilbara Native Title Service, is on the Policy Committee of Liberty Victoria and a board member of Reprieve Australia. In 2010 Daniel was awarded an LIV President’s Award for his outstanding work for human rights and social justice.


Shukufa Tahiri was born into a Hazara family in Afghanistan. Forced to flee her homeland, Shukufa’s family lived in Pakistan before being reunited with their father in Australia in 2006, where they arrived as refugees. Shukufa is an advocate for the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum and in between initiating and volunteering for numerous initiatives supporting newly arrived female refugees, homework tuition for children from refugee backgrounds, providing legal and interpreting assistance for people seeking asylum and working as a policy assistant at the Refugee Council of Australia, Shukufa is also studying for her bachelor of laws.


Workshop Facilitators: Boccalatte uses design to bring together community, business and culture. They help organisations embrace change so they can become more innovative, agile and vital. Recent clients include Carriageworks, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, ABC Arts, National Trust, National Art School and ACMI.  


Session partner:

The Guadian Live 200x100

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