Skip to main content


August 2021

A/Prof Caroline Fleay and Salem Askari

Centre representation at the Global Health Conference

The Centre for Human Rights Education’s Salem Askari and Associate Professor Caroline Fleay were panellists on the plenary session ‘Power of One: Refugee Health’ at the Global Health Conference organised by the Australian Medical Students Association in Fremantle, Western Australia, on 6 August 2021.

Along with Mayshan Kelishadi (CARAD), and Clinical Associate Professor Raewyn Mutch (Perth Children’s Hospital Refugee Health Service), Salem and Caroline explored the punitive asylum seeker policy landscape in Australia, its impacts on people seeking asylum, and the importance of health care worker advocacy on this issue.

July 2021

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes LSE screenshot

Dr Woldeyes presents for the London School of Economics

On 27th July 2021, Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes presented for an international webinar organised by the London School of Economics (LSE), hosted by the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and the Department of International Development. The title of the webinar was Decolonising Development Studies: Practical steps in course designing, reading selections and classroom discussions.

“Questions about how to decolonise university courses and research has a special pertinence when it comes to development studies, which responds to ideas and theories in development practice itself – often viewed as an inherently colonial project. How these issues should be addressed remains contentious, and pockets of reform within higher education appears marginal.”

The event sought to build on the lessons and challenges of teaching African Development using decolonial perspectives in the current academic year at the LSE, International Development Department, and what this may mean for other disciplines.

You can watch the full webinar on YouTube here.

Misty Farquhar

Misty Farquhar interviewed on SBS Insight

Centre for Human Rights Education’s sessional academic and PhD researcher, Misty Farquhar, appeared on SBS program Insight, speaking about “Being Bisexual”, on 20 July 2021.

In the panel discussion with Misty and audience members, Misty says they did not label themselves at first, noting it was because the terms weren’t available in the 80s and 90s. They noted that there is a history of activism and advocacy around bisexuality, saying they also use the terms pansexual and queer in some spaces. As part of their PhD research, Misty has surveyed around 800 people who identify as non-binary on sexuality or gender or both, noting their survey found over 90% of people identified as being attracted to more than one gender while over 60% said they didn’t identify as a man or a woman or all of the time.

The Insight program reached an audience of approximately 405,000 and was shown nationally television and online.

Dr Marilyn Metta featured on the Behind the Curtin Podcast series

Behind the Curtin are a series of podcasts released monthly, produced by the Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellence Centre (LITEC) at Curtin, where staff get to hear from academic staff on a topic of their choice. Topics support the academic’s research and interests but isn’t necessarily focused on learning and teaching.

In the July podcast, the Centre for Human Rights Education’s Dr Marilyn Metta is featured and she talks about a community-led project that aims to engage young people in conversations about safe relationships.
“The project involves a series of interactive workshops that incorporate a range of creative storytelling and information-sharing resources and media for young people to explore challenging but important issues around sex, sexual harassment, coercive control, intimate abuse, and safe relationships.”

CHRE staff participate at Refugee events in July

The Centre for Human Rights Education’s Research Assistant Salem Askari gave a powerful presentation at the Refugee Alternatives Conference on 6 July 2021 on the experiences of living on a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa in Australia for more than 8 years, and what should inform advocacy in this area moving forward.

Salem and CHRE’s Associate Professor Caroline Fleay also participated in the invitation-only National Refugee Sector Coordination meeting organised by the Refugee Council of Australia on 5 July 2021 to discuss sector advocacy issues and challenges.

Freedom of Movement image

The Future of... Podcast

Co-Directors of the Centre for Human Rights Education, Associate Professor Caroline Fleay and Dr Lisa Hartley were interviewed for an early July edition of The Future of podcast series, titled ‘Freedom of Movement’. The researchers discuss why the right to move is so important, how COVID-19 lockdowns have restricted our ability to move and how this right is often unequally experienced. The episode was recorded live on Curtin University Open Day on Sunday 30 May 2021 and broadcast on the 6th of July 2021.

June 2021

Future of Podcast Series image with photo of Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes

The Future Of: Stolen Artefacts

CHRE’s Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, an expert in colonialist epistemic violence research, joined Jessica Morison in Curtin’s latest ‘The Future of… Series’ podcast that was aired on 24 June 2021. He describes the types of artefacts that have been stolen, why museums are starting to repatriate these artefacts and how their return will influence future interpretations of history. 

You can listen to the full episode via YouTube.

CHRE in Refugee Week 2021 Events

Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) Research Assistant Salem Askari spoke powerfully at the Refugee Week in the City event held at the Wesley Uniting Church in Perth on Monday 21 June about his own experiences of seeking asylum in Australia and how we need to challenge Australia’s policy landscape. He joined a range of speakers, including newly elected MLC Ayur Makur Chuot.

CHRE’s Salem Askari and Co-Director Associate Professor Caroline Fleay also spoke at the Office of Multicultural Interest’s Refugee Week event on Tuesday 22 June, highlighting how the lived experiences of people from asylum seeking backgrounds need to guide policy decision making at all levels of government.

Photos: 1) L-R MLC Ayur Makur Chuot and Salem Askari; 2) L-R Caroline Fleay, Salem Askari and James Jegasothy, A/Executive Director, Office of Multicultural Interests.

Emeritus Professor Baden Offord and Mx Misty Farquhar

Baden Offord and Misty Farquhar recognised on Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2021

Congratulations go to Emeritus Professor Baden Offord who received an AO award, Officer in the Order of Australia, announced on the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List. He’s one of only 50 recipients nationally to receive the award. Baden has been recognised for distinguished service to tertiary education in the field of human rights, social justice, and cultural diversity. We congratulate Baden for the recognition of his work as a human rights scholar, activist and educator. The Centre for Human Rights Education and the Curtin University community were honoured to have Baden for 6 wonderful years. 

Congratulations also go to Mx Misty Farquhar, who received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia. Misty is a sessional academic and PhD researcher with the Centre for Human Rights Education and received recognition for their service to the LGBTQI community. We heartily congratulate Misty as an integral part of the CHRE team, outstanding advocate and all round amazing human. 

Dr Lisa Hartley and A/Prof Caroline Fleay with participants at the Red Cross seminar

Seminar at the Red Cross (WA)

On 11 June, CHRE co-directors Lisa Hartley and Caroline Fleay facilitated a seminar at the Australian Red Cross (WA) about how to engage in ‘difficult conversations’ with individuals and Members of Parliament to shift opinions about people seeking asylum. Special thanks to Greg Watson and Alison Cook from the ARC for the invitation and to the thoughtful and insightful participants. Many of the participants are involved in the “In Search of Safety” program which is run in schools in WA about people seeking asylum. Lisa and Caroline evaluated this program which resulted in a peer-reviewed publication published earlier this year.

Advocacy Project: Examining barriers to accessing higher education and employment pathways in Australia

In early June, Dr Lisa Hartley and Associate Professor Caroline Fleay enabled a fruitful meeting with women from refugee backgrounds who are involved in their collaborative research-led advocacy project examining barriers to accessing higher education and employment pathways in Australia, with Jacqui Wheelan from Mercycare WA. Jacqui is running a project designed to provide refugee and migrant women in WA with job pathways support.

May 2021

Family Law Pathways Network logo

Keynote presentation at WA Family Law Pathways Network 2021 Conference

On 25th May 2021, Dr Marilyn Metta was invited to give the keynote presentation titled, Living with Intimate Abuse and Coercive Control and Navigating the Family Court System at the WA Family Law Pathways Network 2021 Conference . This year’s theme was Shaping the Future of Family Law: Ideas, Innovation and Inspiration. 

March 2021

Dr Marilyn Metta delivers Research Seminar 1, 2021

On Thursday 18 March, the Centre for Human Rights Education held the first in their 2021 Research Seminar Series with Dr Marilyn Metta as the speaker. At the seminar titled, ‘Unpacking Coercive Control: Seeing, Understanding and Acting,’ Marilyn unpacked what coercive control looks like in the contexts of intimate and familial relationships and workplaces.

Drawing from her current research project, Finding Metis: Women’s Stories of Resistance and Resilience through Intimate Abuse and Violence, she explored some of the lived experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) women who have experienced intimate abuse and coercive control as well as how they have resisted the coercive control and abuse.

In February this year, the NSW Government held a three-day inquiry into the proposed introduction of new coercive control legislation. Around the same time, Queensland Government announced plans to set up an independent taskforce to consult on potential coercive control legislation. Marilyn unpacked some of the current public conversations on coercive control and the calls to criminalise coercive control in Australia.

The lunchtime seminar was well attended on campus with 26 people and 34 people attended online via Zoom and Facebook Live. Thanks to Marilyn for presenting on a very timely topic that was very invaluable and well received by those in attendance.

Watch the presentation here.

Dr Marilyn Metta speaknig at the first CHRE research seminar for 2021

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay presents for the Lions Eye Institute Colloquium

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay presented for the Lions Eye Institute Colloquium webinar held 17 March 2021 alongside medical professionals Hessom Razavi, Dr Aesen Thambiran and Associate Professor Raewyn Mutch on the themes of working with people from refugee backgrounds, responding to Australia’s punitive asylum seeker policies, and engaging in collective advocacy.

Ally Conference flag composite

PhD candidate Misty Farquhar interviewed for ‘The Future Of’ podcast

Curtin’s latest podcast in the “Future of” series from 15 March 2021 features Mx Misty Farquhar speaking about Gender. Misty is a CHRE sessional academic and PhD candidate. They discuss gender diversity, inclusivity & the right age to transition.

Listen to the podcast here.

Questions raised during the podcast include:

  • What’s the difference between sex and gender? [01:38]
  • Using pronouns properly [05:24]
  • What issues do trans and gender diverse people face? [11:37]
  • The future of ‘gender reveals’ [13:44]
  • Is there a right age to transition and what does it involve? [15:02]
  • Is it time to ‘do away’ with gender? [20:53]
Dr Marilyn Metta speaking to a group

Dr Marilyn Metta Guest Speaker at Community Innovators, Volunteers and Leaders (CIVAL)  graduation

On the 13th of March, Dr Marilyn Metta was a guest speaker at the Community Innovators, Volunteers and Leaders (CIVAL) Group 2 graduation that was held at the City of Wanneroo Civic Centre. There were 38 graduates who completed the CIVAL program which is run by the Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS). The group included participants from 22 different countries who have learnt new skills to help them support their community members in the future.

Marilyn was also recently interviewed by RTRFM (Perth) On The Record on the Feeling Safe and Free Initiative which uses creative storytelling tools and media for young people to explore important issues relating to sex, sexual harassment, consent, abuse and safe relationships.

December 2020

Marilyn Metta, Rubi Ni Chin and Merissa van der Linden

International Human Rights Day 2020

On the 10th of December, the Centre for Human Rights Education co-hosted an event with ASeTTS in recognition of International Human Rights Day, in line with this year’s theme “Recover Better: Stand Up for Human Rights”.

A film screening of ‘How I Became a Refugee‘ was held for ASeTTS staff, stakeholders and clients followed by Q&A with filmmaker Dr Marilyn Metta and Rubi Ni Chin as guest speakers.

Photo courtesy Marilyn Metta and includes Marilyn and Rubi with ASeTTS CEO and CHRE alumnus, Merissa Van Der Linden.

L-R: Christopher Macfarlane; Lisa Hartley; Caroline Fleay; Baden Offord; Misty Farquhar; Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes; John Ryan.

Professor Offord awarded Emeritus title

Congratulations to Professor Baden Offord who has been awarded the title “Emeritus Professor”. This title is a prestigious honour and made in recognition of his distinguished service as a Professor of Cultural Studies and Human rights and as the Director of CHRE, and his commitment and academic leadership in human rights, sexuality, cultural studies and education at Curtin University.

Wonderful news, Emeritus Professor Baden Offord! Wishing you well for the next chapter in your life.

Photo credit: Marziya Mohammedali

A Sad Farewell to Professor Baden Offord

The 8th of December was Professor Baden Offord’s last day at the Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) at Curtin University. Baden held the Dr Haruhisa Handa Chair of Human Rights and the position as Director of CHRE since January 2015.

It is hard to condense our love and appreciation for Baden into a short news item – he is an extraordinary and strident human being, scholar, and human rights activist.

Baden has a profound ability to build collectives wherever he goes, to bring people together and to make people feel heard and understood. He has an incredible generosity of spirit and is deeply caring in everything that he does.

One of the many extraordinary contributions Baden has made to the CHRE was to initiate the Annual Curtin University Human Rights lecture in 2016 to consider how we might understand human rights, and how we might understand ourselves, our communities, and beyond. This lecture has been presented by Professor Gillian Triggs, Dr Waleed Aly, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG, Behrouz Boochani, and Dean Adrien Wing in 2020.

Under his leadership, Baden has mentored us all, and many others in the University and the Perth community. We have all learned enormously from his leadership, from his own lived experience, and his willingness to attend so deeply to so many.

Baden also has very good taste in cakes. Our afternoon teas will not be the same.

You are loved Baden. So very loved. Thank you for everything.

In 2021, Associate Professor Caroline Fleay and Dr Lisa Hartley will be sharing the CHRE Director position.

You can view a collection of memories from Baden’s time with the CHRE here. Video photograph credits: Gaylene Galardi; Christopher Macfarlane; Chris Lewis; Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes; Misty Farquhar; Mary Anne Kenny; Lisa Hartley; and Baden Offord.

Professor Baden Offord. Photo by Christopher Macfarlane

September 2020

Journal of Afroasiatic Language, History and Culture cover

Publication by Dr Gelaw Woldeyes: Journal of Afroasiatic Languages, History and Culture

Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes has been researching for an article that has just been published as a special issue in the Journal of Afroasiatic Languages, History and Culture, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2020, titled ‘Colonial Re-Writing of African History: Misinterpretations and Distortions in Belcher and Kleiner’s Life and Struggles of Walatta Petros‘. This research is based on Yirga’s sabbatical field work and travel grant that he from the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2019.

Written in response to a book written by Wendy Belcher and Michael Kleiner based on ancient text about Ethiopian Saint Woletta Petros, Yirga hopes that the article will start a critical and sensitive conversation, as the themes concern complex and challenging issues regarding academia moving beyond its colonial past.

Yirga writes:

“A western lens with a deliberate distortion of the facts has been applied to the text, using contemporary western understandings of marriage and monastic life to interpret a 17th century Ethiopian nun.”

“The article will demonstrate that the colonial practice of taking African intellectual resources and using them to rewrite African history is not a relic of the past, but an ongoing and supported practice within universities.”

“This article seeks to prompt a change in the writing of African history, where the agency of black people to narrate their own histories and experiences is respected and supported.”

“In a time when people are demanding that black lives matter, we in the academy must demand that black voices matter too.”

Congratulations, Yirga, on getting this important work published.

August 2020

Statement in Support of Mr Julian Assange

31 August 2020
The Centre for Human Rights Education calls for the release of Mr Julian Assange in accordance with national and international law and human rights. We call for an end to the ongoing extradition proceedings and for Mr Assange to be granted his long overdue freedom.
There are grave concerns for the health of Julian Assange, who is currently held as a remand prisoner in Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London. His hearing begins on 7th September.
Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has outlined evidence of extensive violations of legal protocol and duty towards Mr Assange. Concerns include that Mr Assange has showed all those symptoms typical of prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma. In Mr Melzer’s estimation, extradition to the USA would not culminate in a fair trial or bring an end to the torture, but likely make it worse and permanent.
Amnesty International considers that Mr Assange will not face a fair trial in the USA saying:
“Amnesty International strongly opposes any possibility of Julian Assange being extradited or sent in any other manner to the USA. There, he faces a real risk of serious human rights violations including possible detention conditions that would amount to torture and other ill-treatment (such as prolonged solitary confinement).” and; “Prosecuting Julian Assange on these charges could have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression, leading journalists to self-censor from fear of prosecution.”
The Commissioner of Human Rights for the Council of Europe, a 47 nation organisation, has also opposed Assange’s Extradition saying:
“In view of both the press freedom implications and the serious concerns over the treatment Julian Assange would be subjected to in the United States, my assessment as Commissioner for Human Rights is that he should not be extradited.”
The CHRE urges the Australian Government contact the British and US authorities and demand that the extradition be dropped due to the past, present and future violations of Mr Assange’s human rights and right to a fair trial.

NCSEHE 2020/21 Research Grants Program Success, Dr Lisa Hartley

Dr Lisa Hartley, along with colleagues working through the Refugee Education Special Interest Group (RESIG), has been successful in securing a grant through the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE). The project, titled COVID-19 online learning landscapes and CALDMR students: Opportunities and challenges, was one 17 successful projects out of 103 applications, a record number of applications and successes for this program.

Project details

Lead institution: University of New South Wales

Researchers: Sally Baker, Lisa Hartley, Loshini Naidoo, Rachel Burke, Tebeje Molla, Clemence Due, Joel Anderson, Teresa De Fazio, Carolina Morison, William Mude and Ravinder Sidhu

Project abstract: This study explores the effects of remote learning environments induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the capacity of universities to offer equitable teaching and learning services to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Refugee and/or Migrant (CALDMR) populations. Building on existing research undertaken by team members and working as an interdisciplinary collective of educators and equity practitioners under the Refugee Education Special Interest Group (RESIG), we propose a critical/strengths-based mixed-methods approach to develop a holistic picture of the challenges and opportunities for CALDMR students and universities within a changing teaching and learning landscape.

Congratulations to Lisa and the team of researchers involved with this project!

COVID-19 and the relentless harms of Australia’s punitive immigration detention regime

On the 1st of August 2020, an article co-authored by Associate Professor Caroline Fleay and colleagues Anthea VoglClaire Loughnan, Philomena MurraySara Dehm, was published in Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal online. 

The article is ‘COVID-19 and the relentless harms of Australia’s punitive immigration detention regime.’

“Calls for the urgent release of people seeking asylum, refugees and other non-citizens held in immigration detention centres began as soon as the magnitude and reach of the global health crisis associated with COVID-19 became clear. Public health organisations quickly identified detention centres, as sites of mandatory and often overcrowded social confinement, as extremely high risk places for both infection and onward transmission of COVID-19.” Read the full article here.


June 2020

Towards Inanition: Diminishing The Humanities, Communications And Arts At Our Peril

On the 23rd of June 2020, Professor Baden Offord, Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education published an article, ‘Towards Inanition: Diminishing The Humanities, Communications And Arts At Our Peril‘, in Arena Online. The article addresses the announcement of the previous week by the Australian Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, regarding the Australian government’s proposed “new fee structure for universities that will radically alter the focus of higher education to socially engineer students away from the humanities, arts, communications and social sciences.”

Baden writes: “The humanities inculcate the very essence of doing human rights and social justice work through fostering dialogue for being, by helping us to realise that the other is always inside. These are not mere add-ons or afterthoughts to have sit or remain in the margins of a civilised society. They are central concerns, crucial to our survival as a species, as individuals, as a society. Where do we learn how to challenge authority and question the status quo? To understand the socio-cultural and political landscape with its intricacies and grapple with issues such as race, disability, sexuality, age, class and gender? To find ways of living on this planet sustainably by asking difficult and hard questions about what is needed for humanity’s co-existence and co-survival? To end poverty and economic degradation for all people through principles of equity and access? Such things are learned through philosophy, history, literature, religion, art, music, media, cultural studies and language—we ignore them at our own peril.”

Read the full article here.

Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes Media Engagements

June was a busy month for Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes with several media interviews taking place. He was interviewed by Adebabay Media on his research related to pressing humanitarian and human rights issues, questions of epistemic and social justice, and the relevance of education in Ethiopia. The interview was featured via YouTube and Facebook in 2 parts. Part 1: Streamed live on 10 Jun 2020. Part 2: Streamed live on 16 Jun 2020.

He was interviewed by SBS Radio in Amharic about the impact of GMO in Ethiopia. 13 June 2020. Listen here.

Yirga was also interviewed by Reeyot Alemu on the topic of Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the USA, on Ethio 360 Special Program. 2 June 2020. Watch here.

May 2020

Publications news

Dr Marilyn Metta has had an abstract for a paper titled ‘Reclaiming the Maternal Metis Body: Pregnancy, Birthing, and Mothering through Intimate Abuse and Coercive Control’ accepted for the Lilith: A Feminist History Journal’s special issue on ‘The Female Frame: Biopolitics and Wellbeing in Australian and Global Perspective’.

Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes’s new journal article based research undertaken during study leave in late 2019 entitled ‘“Holding Living Bodies in Graveyards”: The Violence of Keeping Ethiopian Manuscripts in Western Institutions’ is available to read here.

April 2020

Refugees need protection from COVID-19 too, and must be released

The Centre’s Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, along with colleagues from The University of Melbourne and University of Technology Sydney, had a piece published in The Conversation on 24 April 2020, that discusses the measures needed by the Federal Government to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 among people forced to remain in immigration detention.

“The social distancing measures adopted across Australia appear to be halting the spread of the coronavirus in the general community. But the Australian government continues to fail to provide proper protections for many groups who are most at risk. They include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities, people in prisons and youth detention centres, and those who are forced to remain in sites of immigration detention.

This leaves them, and the rest of us, at serious risk of infection.”

Read the full article here.

Human Rights x Human Responsibilities

CHRE Partnership Project: Human Rights x Human Responsibilities

The Centre for Human Rights Education is excited to announce that it has partnered with the Museum of Tolerance to contribute to and support their new campaign called “Human Rights x Human Responsibilities”. Over the next 30 weeks this initiative will be starting conversations based around all 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a creative, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary and multi-media examination of our rights and responsibilities.

Visit the website to find resources on the hrxhr and Museum of Tolerance websites and to join the conversation and access pre-released materials every week.
The following tags may also be useful: #hrxhr #toolsforchange #mftwa #humanrights #humanrightsmuseum #socialchange
Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes

Princeton University Library Research Grant awarded to Dr Woldeyes

Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes has won the Princeton University Library Research Grant in the amount of USD 4,538 for his project The social function of Ethiopian magic scrolls:  A study based on Ethiopian Geez collections at Princeton University. Friends of the Princeton University Library awarded this highly competitive grant to Yirga to conduct his research at Princeton Library. Due to COVID-19, onsite services in all Princeton University Library physical locations have ceased operations until further notice, and Yirga will be informed when he is welcome to conduct his research in the future.

March 2020

Centre for Human Rights Education

Statement on the COVID-19 Pandemic

At this critical time, as we face unprecedented global change and uncertainty, we echo the calls of many others that compassion, solidarity and empathy must be reflected in our care for each other and the community – especially the most vulnerable and marginalised.

All of us at Curtin University’s Centre for Human Rights Education team have learned through our teaching, research, community outreach and advocacy of the acute awareness of the importance of solidarity and care for everyone.

We strongly believe that human rights and social justice must be at the heart of all Government and community policy and practical action.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to stand as advocates for those who are othered, stigmatised or excluded.

We recognise the importance in our everyday lives of working together and protecting each other. We can do this by drawing on the principles of social justice, intersectionality, equality and human rights.

To give one example, social distancing in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic is social justice in practice and action.

We rally behind the calls to participate in social distancing (at the very least) so that we can help “flatten the (growth) curve” of the virus.

Paying attention to social distancing and being self-aware will help ensure the protection of us all, but particularly the vulnerable.

In practising social distancing we are, in a humanitarian sense, all first responders.

It is also an act of social justice to recognise that not everyone is able to do this: for example, people who are in detention or incarcerated, health workers and the homeless. Authorities must take responsibility and take action to support these and other vulnerable people.

We know that the COVID-19 Pandemic has already highlighted profound social inequalities and forms of discrimination and social exclusion regarding who might be expendable.

We call for an approach to the pandemic that is inclusive of everyone.


Baden Offord, Lisa Hartley, Marilyn Metta, Gaylene Galardi, Yirga Woldeyes, Greg Watson, Misty Farquhar and Caroline Fleay.


Statement by Centre for Human Rights Education

A Major Test for Human Rights in Australia

The Director of Curtin University’s Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE), Professor Baden Offord, has written to all the members of federal parliament outlining the case against legislating the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.

Professor Offord, in his letter, describes the proposed bill as fundamentally flawed, and would adversely compromise the human rights protections for gender and sexually diverse people and communities.

Elaborating on the letter, he added, “The proposed bill is inherently retrograde and harmful to millions of Australians, and anyone who values human rights should reject the legislation outright. This is a major test of Australia’s commitment to human rights.”

Professor Offord, who has spoken publicly on his lived experience of suicide and religion as an LGBTIQ+ identified person, also shared with every member of parliament his own personal story, “Becoming human: lived experience, suicide and the complexities of being.

In this article Professor Offord speaks directly to the profound impact of discrimination justified by religious views.

“Every day, LGBTIQ+ people face social, cultural, political, economic, judicial and other forms of prejudice. In my research, I encounter heart-rending stories of LGBTIQ+ exclusion and persecution. Just read any news feed, watch tv, listen to people in your neighbourhood or your sporting icon. It is not acceptable that the proposed and revised Religious Discrimination Bill should actually legalise discrimination and hate.”

“There has been an immense groundswell of protest against this bill across the Australian community,” said Professor Offord, “which includes the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Equality Australia, The Coalition of Major Professional & Participation Sport (COMPPS) – which is comprised of Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, Rugby Australia, Netball Australia, the AFL, NRL and FFA, and many others.”

“It’s also highly significant that Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, in his most recent report on 2nd of March, has categorically rejected claims that religious beliefs ‘can be used as a legitimate justification for violence or discrimination against LGBT+ people.'”

Former high court justice, Michael Kirby, who is Patron of the Centre for Human Rights Education, wrote last week in the Sydney Morning Herald that the bill “actively facilitates intolerance and will work to divide rather than unite Australians.”

“Under this legislation, a range of health professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, would be empowered to deny treatment to those who did not share their religious beliefs.

“This bill breaches universal human rights by unfairly privileging religion over other attributes such as race, sex, disability and age. Until now these attributes have been protected by anti-discrimination laws.

“Instead of acting as a shield to protect people’s religious beliefs, this bill would be a sword to harm those with different beliefs. It will encourage the bigots and those who hide behind religious claims to pursue an agenda of hate.”

The CHRE recognises and respects a multi-religious society. However, we are concerned that LGBTIQ+ people from minority faiths may feel the threat of additional targeting on the basis of their religion.

Given these serious concerns, the Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education strongly opposes this bill and calls on the federal government to reject it wholesale.

The CHRE calls on the government to strongly reaffirm Australia’s commitment to human rights in a secular, diverse, democratic and inclusive society.

Yirga (2nd from L) is with with Professor Jacob Olupona from Harvard University and Professor Tite Tienou from Trinity International University

Dr Woldeyes research trip, Ethiopia and Rwanda

In Ethiopia, Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes met with a group of influential Ethiopian scholars to discuss the possibility of organising a conference on Ethiopian indigenous and homegrown knowledges in December 2020. The conference would bring local leaders, traditional school scholars and women to share their experiences with the public.

Yirga also attended a 5 day research seminar (from 1 to 6 March 2020) in Kigali, Rwanda, where scholars who implemented projects on African education came together to share their experiences. The research seminar focused on developing an African indigenous methodologies for advancing knowledge through education. During the conference the delegates visited Genocide Memorial sites.

(Photo: In Kigali, Rwanda, Yirga is with with Professor Jacob Olupona from Harvard University and Professor Tite Tienou from Trinity International University)


Yirga was interviewed by Meaza Birru, the highly celebrated FM radio program in Addis Ababa about how the historical origin and legacy of the  ‘Land to the Tiller” movement in the 1960s Ethiopia. Watch video here.

Yirga was interviewed by FM 97.1, another Ethiopia radio program on the battle of Adwa and he was interview by Asham TV to reflect on the role of women in the battle of Adwa.

February 2020

Human Library logo

Perth Human Library Projects

Dr Greg Watson, as the Manager of Human Library Australia, has been collaborating on several projects.

Perth Human Library partnered with Lakelands Library (Mandurah) during Seniors Week 2019 (10 – 17 November) and trained six new Human Books. This project ran two events in November 2019 which enabled members of the public to talk to their Human Books about how community seniors have experienced such things as adjusting to life as an immigrant, mental illness, family conflict, cultural and ethnic diversity.

At present, Greg is collaborating with the State Library of Queensland on its Human Library Series. This project unfolds in a series of monthly events from November 2019 to April 2020. The purpose of the series is to engage members of the public in dialogues with people (Human Books) about topics that include migrant experiences, cultural diversity and local Aboriginal heritage.

Several new projects are currently in development for Harmony Week (15 – 21 March 2020). Victoria Park Library is collaborating with Perth Human Library to train ten of its ESL Reading Circle members to become Human Books. The candidates come from a wide range of national and ethnic backgrounds and will provide members of the public with the opportunity, on 18 March (6.00pm to 7.00pm) to talk to people about multiculturalism from people who have left their homelands and moved to Australia and now call it home. The Perth Human Library will also visit two high schools during Harmony Week: Rossmoyne Senior High and Lumen Christi College.

Public Lecture: ‘Education for Social Justice’ with Professor Sue Ellis

On Thursday 13 February, the Centre for Human Rights Education partnered with the School of Education, the Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) and The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University in hosting a public lecture with Professor Sue Ellis, Co-Director of the Centre for Education and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde. Professor Ellis spoke about Education for Social Justice, drawing on her work with teachers and communities in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas to explore how the coordination of policy, practice and pedagogy can make a profound difference to the educational achievement of students in communities that are traditionally not noted for academic success.

The lecture, MC’d by PVC Professor Alan Dench and welcomed to country by Mr Anthony Kickett from CAS, was well attended by academics from Curtin and universities across Perth, as well as members of the Education Department and others interested in social justice and equity.

(Photos by Gaylene Galardi)

Professor Baden Offord

Free to be you and me? A ‘pulse check’ of LGBTIQA+ rights in South-East Asia

On the 11th of February, an article in the Curtin Research News has highlighted Centre Director Professor Baden Offord’s current research in conducting a ‘pulse check’ of LGBTIQA+ rights in South-East Asia, in collaboration with researchers from Deakin, Monash and Flinders universities. Through this research, Baden and his team have observed striking variations in the way South-East Asian countries approach and practice the rights of LGBTIQA+ people. Read the full article here.

Professor Offord holds the Dr Haruhisa Handa Chair of Human Rights and is a Senior Research Professor in Cultural Studies and Human Rights at Curtin University. He is an internationally recognised specialist in human rights, sexuality, culture and education, and is part of a scholarly and activist community that works to decolonise and destabilise the study of sexuality in South-East Asia.

Duc Dau and Misty Farquhar

CHRE well represented at the 2020 Activisms @ the Margins Conference

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Dr Marilyn Metta and CHRE PhD student Misty Farquhar presented papers at the 2020 Activisms @ the Margins Conference that was held from the 10th to the 12th of February 2020 in Melbourne.

Caroline presented a paper titled ‘Collective Responses to Australia’s Punitive Asylum Seeker Policies’. Marilyn’s paper was titled ‘Storytelling and Social Activism in Young People‘. Misty co-presented a paper with Dr Duc Dau (University of Western Australia) titled ‘REAL, VISIBLE, HERE: BISEXUAL+ VISIBILITY IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA’, the presentation based on their co authored article published in Critical Social Policy on 11 January 2020.

Photo courtesy of Misty Farquhar (R).

CHRE Student graduation Feb 2020

Student Graduation February 2020

Congratulations to Centre for Human Rights Education Masters students who graduated on Saturday, 8 February at Curtin University Bentley campus. Pictured at a pre-ceremony gathering are (L-R) Eunice Angaka, Juach Bul and Stacey Hearn with Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes at the Centre’s offices.

Congratulations also go to Emma Hancock, Stephanie Nicholls, Jodie Colton and Joel Atunga who also attended the ceremony.

(Photo by Gaylene Galardi)

CHRE involved with Youth Justice Sector Expert Working Group

On Thursday, 6 February, Dr Marilyn Metta was invited to be part of the Youth Justice Sector Expert Working Group contributing to the draft of Social Reinvestment WA Youth Justice Report 2020.

Top of page

January 2020

Contract signed with Routledge Publishers: Activating Cultural and Social Change: The Pedagogies of Human Rights

Professor Baden Offord, Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Dr Lisa Hartley and Dr Yirga Woldeyes have signed off as Co-editors on a contract with Routledge Publishers for their major volume, Activating Cultural and Social Change: The Pedagogies of Human Rights, to be published in late 2020. The book will be included in the Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies series.

This book provides theoretical and practical ways of activating our knowledge and understanding of how to build a human rights culture. Addressing the question of how to approach and apply human rights within current socio-cultural, political, socio-legal, environmental, educational and global contexts, the book provides new and critical cultural studies perspectives on how to theorise, practice and contextualise human rights through the lens of diverse and varied pedagogical activity.

Welcome back to Dr Lisa Hartley

Welcome back to the Centre’s Dr Lisa Hartley, who returned in January from parental leave. Lisa has been busy writing and publishing her research with co-authors in the following publications in 2019 and early 2020:

Real, visible, here: Bisexual+ visibility in Western Australia

Centre PhD student, Mx Misty Farquhar, has had a refereed, co-authored paper published on the 11th of January in Critical Social Policy. The paper titled “Real, visible, here: Bisexual+ visibility in Western Australia”, written with University of Western Australia academic Dr Duc Dau, is about the work of the Bisexual+ Community Perth over the last few years, including the lived experiences of members illustrating the group’s impact.


The authors of the article run Bisexual+ Community Perth, a grassroots collective that works to increase bisexual+ visibility and community connection in Western Australia.  This article begins by providing an evidence-base for bisexual+ activism, much of it based on the poorer mental health outcomes of bisexual+ people and the pervasive invisibility of bisexual+ people in both LGBTIQ+ communities and activism. Drawing on the work of Bisexual+ Community Perth, the article then offers a practical example of community-building as activism. It explores how collective mobilisation, bridge building, and alliances can be leveraged to make a difference in a local context, and discusses some of the challenges faced in sustaining this work. Throughout the article, the lived experiences of Bisexual+ Community Perth members are included to bring a richness to our account of the work, and to increase empathy towards bisexual+ people in general.

Read the full paper here.