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December 2018

Critical Suicide Studies Network 3rd Annual Conference

On the 12th of December 2018, Centre Director, Professor Baden Offord, was a speaker at the The Third Conference of the Critical Suicide Studies Network, held at the University of Western Australia on the 12th and 13th of December 2018.

The Critical Suicide Studies Network presents an approach to understanding, theorising and intervening in suicide from alternative perspectives. Such perspectives have sought to find renewed, more critical ways of thinking about suicide to address and respond to suicide where traditional approaches have failed.

This conference, the first to be held in the southern hemisphere, built on prior Critical Suicide Studies conferences in Prague, Czech Republic (2016) and Canterbury, UK (2017), turning the attention to networking, impact and engagement of critical approaches with service providers, advocates, policymakers and everyday people affected by suicide.

Baden spoke on the first day of the conference as part of a roundtable session, about ‘A critical human rights and decolonizing response to the lived experience of suicide.’

For more information about the conference, you can download the conference program.

World Human Rights Day: Celebrating Activists

On the 10th of December 2018, the Centre for Stories in partnership with the Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education and Refugee Rights Action Network WA, held an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Three amazing activists, Misty Farquhar, Marziya Mohammedali and Riyadh Hakimi, shared their stories of activism, with the Centre’s Caroline Fleay as MC.

Director of the Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education, Baden Offord, said of the evening, “Meeting under the open sky on world human rights day we listened to these remarkable human rights activists at the Centre for Stories. Reflective stories and insightful kernels on the importance of visibility, how art and activism can be so powerful, and how we need to relate to and understand people through our humanity, not through ideologies, religious, political or otherwise.”

Photo by Misty Farquhar. L-R: Misty Farquhar; Marziya Mohammedali; Riyadh Hakimi; Caroline Fleay.

Misty Farquhar, Marziya Mohammedali, Riyadh Hakimi and Caroline Fleay

Going Postal: More Than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

On Thursday 6th of December 2018, Professor Baden Offord, Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education, launched the book “Going Postal: More Than ‘Yes’ or ‘No'”,  edited by Quinn Eades and Son Vivienne, at the Curtin University Creative Quarter. Throughout 2017 the queer and gender-diverse community of Australia undertook an incredible campaign of everyday activism around Marriage Equality. Individuals and collectives shared personal stories with their networks – from social media to workplace to school playground. Tears and rage were purged – often documented as poems, photos, short stories, status updates, tweets, blog posts, political cartoons, and short videos. The book is an archival testament to the postal survey conducted last year in Australia, which saw the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The book can be purchased through various outlets.

Quinn Eades is a Melbourne based writer, poet, and spoken word performer. He is the author of ‘all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body’ and ‘Rallying’. Son Vivienne is a Post-doctoral research fellow at RMIT University.

End of year student gathering

On the 4th of December 2018, the Centre hosted an end of year gathering with Human Rights Masters and PhD students at the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University, along with staff and Centre associates. It was great to see some students after the semester had ended, to celebrate the 2018 study year that had passed successfully. Centre students come from diverse backgrounds and countries, with many and varied experiences in a variety of disciplines, and it is always lovely to see students outside of the classroom to celebrate the CHRE community of learning. We missed all of our students who could not join in with the celebrations.

Photo by Gaylene Galardi.

2018 End of year CHRE student gathering

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November 2018

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay

Western Australian Parliamentary Friends of Refugees launch

On the 29th of November 2018, the Centre’s Associate Professor Caroline Fleay was a speaker at the WA Parliamentary Friends of Refugees launch at Parliament House in Perth. Dr Lisa Hartley was also in attendance at the launch.

Caroline highlighted that how well people are able to settle in Western Australia relies in large part on how welcomed and supported they are by those who already live here. In this context, the WA Parliamentary Friends of Refugees group is an important initiative that will provide opportunities for people from a refugee background to raise their concerns directly within the WA Parliament.

The group, convened by Hon Alison Xamon MLC, Member for North Metropolitan and Janine Freeman MLA, Member for Mirrabooka, welcomes Members from any Party of either House of the Parliament of Western Australia.

The objects of the Parliamentary Friends of Refugees are to:

  • provide a forum of raising awareness and support for refugees as enshrined in Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  • to encourage initiatives to improve the lives of refugees and to promote and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in Western Australia.

It is wonderful that a bipartisan parliamentary group on refugee issues has formed in WA.

Photo of Caroline Fleay by Lisa Hartley.

Post date – 28 November 2018

University a pathway to meaningful lives for people seeking asylum

World Access to Higher Education Day on the 28th of November is a timely day to release the findings of the first Australia-wide research into access to higher education for people seeking asylum, one of Australia’s most educationally disadvantaged student groups.

The report was authored by Dr Lisa Hartley and A/Prof Caroline Fleay (CHRE, Curtin University), Dr Sally Baker (University of NSW), Dr Rachel Burke (University of Newcastle) and Rebecca Field (Curtin) and was funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.

Accessing higher education is critical for many people seeking asylum as a means to a living a meaningful life but most continue to face enormous barriers in doing so. Major barriers stem from Federal government policy and the temporary nature of their visa.

Twenty three Australian universities offering scholarships that cover the cost of tuition has enabled more than 200 people seeking asylum to study in recent years. However, they continue to face significant challenges throughout their studies, and there are many others who remain without such access.

Read more about the findings and recommendations of the report here and you can download the full report here.

The report was launched at an evening event as part of the NCSEHE Forum: World Access to Higher Education Day on the 28th of November at Curtin University.

A new member of the CHRE community

Congratulations to Dr Yirga Woldeyes and his wife Rebecca on the birth of their son in late November 2018! The Centre is very proud to welcome a new member into the CHRE family!

Centre staff attend the Australian 3C Forum at the University of New South Wales

On the 20th and 21st of November 2018, the Centre’s Associate Professor Caroline Fleay and Dr Lisa Hartley attended the Opening Universities for Refugees (OUR) 3C forum – Project Eucalyptus, held at University of New South Wales, Sydney. The 2 day forum was attended by many academics, practitioners, consultants, students, teachers, representatives of NGOs and those in the policy field.

Caroline and Lisa gave a pre-release taster of their recently completed National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) funded research project: ‘People seeking asylum in Australia: Access and support in higher education’ written with colleagues Sally Baker (UNSW), Rachel Burke (University of Newcastle) and Rebecca Field (Curtin).

Perth Peacemaking Conference 2018

On the 11th of November 2018, the Centre’s Associate Professor Caroline Fleay and Centre Adjunct, Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny, were participants and speakers at the Perth Peacemaking Conference 2018, held at St. George’s Cathedral in Perth. The two day conference that ran over the 10th and 11th of November, provided a unique opportunity to hear about peace from many different perspectives, the event featuring representatives from over 7 faith backgrounds, and attendees from many of the active peace initiatives throughout WA.

Caroline and Mary Anne conducted a workshop breakout session on day 2 of the conference, titled “Seeking Asylum in WA: Working Together to Bring About Change.” The organisers issued a statement following the conference, calling upon the Australian Government to take actions to create and sustain peace. The statement can be found online here.

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October 2018

Workshop: Lived experience of suicide

Centre Director, Professor Baden Offord, led a research workshop on 24-26 October on the lived experience of suicide as part of the scoping of a Critical Suicide Studies and Lived Experience of Suicide Northern NSW Research Network. The workshop was part of the lead-up to the Critical Suicide Studies 3rd Annual Conference being held at the University of Western Australia from 12-13 December 2018. 

National Day of Action, Academics for Refugees

The 17th of October is a National Day of Action across university campuses to call for the end of the offshore processing regime. The day is coordinated by Academics for Refugees and supported and promoted by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Teachers for Refugees, Doctors for Justice and Libarians for Refugees.

Approximately 100 people were in attendance at the action at Curtin University and thanks go to everyone from Curtin and beyond who came to show support and solidarity.

Participants on the day included Robyn Collard who gave a Welcome to Country, CHRE’s Caroline Fleay who MC’d the event and spoke on behalf of the Centre for Human Rights Education and who read words written for the day by Behrouz Boochani, Curtin University Provost John Cordery who spoke on behalf of the University, Suvendrini Perera and Michelle Bui who cited instances of violence against children, women and men on Nauru and Manus Island, and calling out of the names of those who have died while in detention; and John Kisella who delivered one of his poems.

Photo below by Gaylene Galardi. Please see Photo Galleries for more photos, also by Christopher Macfarlane. You can watch the action on the day on the CHRE Facebook page.

Academics for Refugees National Day of Action at Curtin University, 17 October 2018

Preliminary Report: Conservation Concerns for the Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes has written a report on his current work on community conservation concerns in Lalibela Ethiopia. Eleven churches were carved out of a massive rock in the 13th century. Ten years ago the EU funded a shelter project to cover these 800 year-old churches. The justification given for the installation of the shelters was to protect the roof from rain and to do some quick restoration work, but no such work has been carried out in the last 10 years and now the shelter is threatening the very survival of the heritage it was meant to protect. Yirga’s report is available on this community website.

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September 2018

Curtin University Annual Human Rights Lecture, “Beyond Marriage Equality and Blood Curling”

On the evening of Friday 28th September 2018, the Centre for Human Rights Education hosted the third Curtin University Annual Human Rights Lecture in the Elizabeth Jolley lecture theatre at Curtin University. The evening began with a brilliant performance by the GALSWA choir, following a warm and humorous Welcome to Country, given by Noongar elder Marie Taylor. After a warm welcome and introduction by Professor Deborah Terry AO, Curtin Vice-Chancellor, The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, former high court Justice, international jurist and educator, as well as Patron of Curtin University’s Centre for Human Rights Education, delivered the lecture to a packed theatre. Following the lecture, which was titled “Beyond Marriage Equality and Blood Curling,” Mr Kirby received a standing ovation. The lecture was the final evening event of the successful Australian Ally Conference that ran over the 27th and 28th of September at Curtin University.

The Curtin Annual Human Rights Lecture was established by the Centre for Human Rights Education in 2016 with the inaugural lecture given by Professor Gillian Triggs, former head of the Australian Human Rights Commission, followed in 2017 by broadcaster and academic Dr Waleed Aly.

You can view the lecture on YouTube here. Photo below by Gaylene Galardi. For more photographs of the event, please see the event’s photo gallery here.

The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG

Australian Ally Conference 2018

The 2nd Australian Ally Conference was held at Curtin University on the 27th and 28th of September 2018. Centre Director Professor Baden Offord co-convened with Michelle Rogers (Director, Student Experience) this highly successful event, the theme of which was “Activating human rights: sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status”.

The conference brought together 250 academics, professional staff, activists, students, researchers, community leaders and organisations from across the country and abroad. Featuring over 100 speakers, the participation of 45 industry and community organisations, as well as 38 universities, the conference included The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, Professor Deborah Terry (Vice-Chancellor; Curtin University), Rodney Croome AM, Commissioner Ro Allen (Gender and Sexuality Commissioner for Victoria), Professor Adam Shoemaker (Vice-Chancellor; Southern Cross University), Senator Louise Pratt and Senator Dean Smith, Professor Marion Kickett, and Professor Baden Offord, among others.

The conference generated considerable media attention and resources, links to which are available on the Conference Resources page of this website. You will also find photo galleries from the conference days on Flickr.

Photo below by Gaylene Galardi. Additional gallery photos by Christopher Macfarlane, Elle Walker and Canese Yang.

Ally Conference 2018 at Curtin University

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August 2018

Student graduation, Semester 2 2018

A hearty congratulations go to CHRE students who graduated with their Graduate Certificate or Master of Human Rights on the 29th of August 2018. Some students were able to join Centre staff for a celebratory gathering that was held at Curtin University before the graduation ceremony.

Congratulations go to: Elna Abdul Wahab; Mariana Ionita; Biel Jal Liep; Tierney Patricia McCourt; Moly Siddiqua; and Annunziata Strano.

Also a huge congratulations goes to Dr Katie Carter who graduated with her PhD last night! Katie was co-supervised through her PhD process by Professor Baden Offord, Director of the CHRE.

Well done to all of our students who have worked so hard to gain their new qualifications!

Human Journeys in the Global Era

On Wednesday 22nd of August 2018, CHRE’s Dr Lisa Hartley was a guest speaker at the ‘Human Journeys in the Global Era‘ workshop, that was held at Edith Cowan University in Mount Lawley.

The purpose of this one-day interdisciplinary workshop was to explore, from multiple perspectives, the movement of people across borders that is a characteristic of today’s hyper-mobile world. In the context of global networked activity and unprecedented levels of forced and voluntary mobility and migration, there is a need to consider the impacts of today’s fluid populations and permeable national boundaries on people’s culture, personal and national identity, citizenship and security. The workshop explored the themes of multiculturalism, refugees, colonialism, the relationship between migration, development and the environment, and how human journeys can be expressed through mediums such as art, film and literature. In doing so, the workshop provided opportunities for considering issues such as race, gender, human rights and inequality in the context of specific historical and contemporary human journeys. The program included a guest public lecture by Professor Jeffrey Schnapp (Harvard University) on the profound impact of the digital revolution on research across all disciplines.


Fourth Annual CHRE PhD Colloquium

On the 4th of August 2018, Centre staff, adjuncts and PhD students gathered for the 4th CHRE PhD Colloquium, with welcome guest speakers and staff from the Schools of MCASI and Health Sciences. Those in attendance listened to research presentations of 6 students. This annual event is a valuable opportunity for students to present their work to peers and discuss topics of interest in a safe and collegial environment. Presentations and discussions throughout the morning were rich, constructive and encouraging for all who attended.

Thanks to Yirga Woldeyes for being the MC at the colloquium and Caroline Fleay, Lisa Hartley and Mary Anne Kenny for their participation on the discussion panel and for sharing their own PhD stories. Thanks also go to the 6 presenters, supervisors who attended to support their students, Centre associates and adjuncts for their support and input, and other guests who came along.

For more information about the presenters and presentations on the day, please download the colloquium program.

Photo by Gaylene Galardi. For more photos, please visit our Photo Galleries web page.

Postgraduate colloquium 2018

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July 2018

Caroline Fleay speaks at The Social Impact Summit 2018

On the 19th of July 2018, Associate Professor Caroline Fleay spoke as part of the ‘Inclusion & Belonging’ panel on the first day of The Social Impact Summit, 19-20 July at the University of Western Australia Business School.

Hosted by the Centre for Social Impact UWA, it was the main event of the Social Impact Festival 2018, on from the 1-31 July 2018. Bringing together aspiring and experienced leaders of social change and innovation across community, academia, government and business sectors, the 2-day Summit explored concepts such as social innovation, co-design, systems thinking, social enterprise, and measuring impact. 

Topics include ‘Inclusion & Belonging’, ‘Healthy Families’, ‘Food for Wellbeing’, ‘Places for People’, ‘Thriving Youth’, and more. This range of topics brought together a diverse mix of speakers and facilitators from many disciplines, research areas, sectors, and industries.

For more information, please download the program from the summit.

Post date – 19 July 2018

Australian Red Cross – “In Search of Safety” Programme Evaluation

In 2017, CHRE academics Lisa Hartley and Caroline Fleay partnered with the Australian Red Cross (Western Australia) to evaluate in the ‘In Search of Safety’ programme which is a community education programme developed by the Australian Red Cross Migration Support Program (WA) to help dispel the myths and understandings surrounding people seeking asylum in Australia.

The programme is designed specifically for primary school-aged students and aims to create a more welcoming Australia. It presents information and provides an environment that encourages participants to make their own conclusions about people seeking asylum and the situations they face.

The evaluation involved a comparison of surveys completed by students who participated in the ‘In Search of Safety’ programme in four primary schools in Western Australia.

The results of the evaluation showed that their participation in the programme has had a positive impact on the students, which indicates the programme is effective in the short term and longer term.

  1. The students had significantly more positive feelings and attitudes about asylum seekers and were more likely to interact with someone who is an asylum seeker both immediately after their participation in the programme and 8-9 months later.
  2. There was a marked increase in knowledge gained about how to define the terms “asylum seeker” and “refugee” immediately following the programme.
  3. While there was a decline in knowledge gain 8-9 months later, students still showed they had gained a significant increase in knowledge 8-9 months after the programme compared with the knowledge they had before it.
  4. The teachers felt very positive about the programme in the short and longer term.

Caroline and Lisa really enjoyed working with the Australian Red Cross and the teachers and students who participated in the four primary schools.

To find out more about the evaluation process and outcomes, you can read the Final Evaluation Report here.

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June 2018

Centre Director: International Expert Panelist for the New Zealand Ministry of Education

Centre Director, Professor Baden Offord, was appointed from June 2018 to March 2019 as an International Expert Panelist to the Social Sciences and Other Cultural/Social Sciences (SSOCS) Panel for the New Zealand Ministry of Education panel for the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) Quality Evaluation. This Quality Research Evaluation in New Zealand is similar to the ERA process in Australia.


Public event: Support Life After Torture

On the 26th of June 2018, The Centre for Human Rights Education joined ASeTTS, The Humanitarian Group, CARAD and the Curtin School of Psychology to host the ‘Support Life After Torture’ event at Curtin University.

Each year on 26 June, the United Nations commemorates the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It is an opportunity for individuals everywhere to join in supporting the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are victims of torture, and to support the IRCT’s global efforts to eradicate the practice. A panel was put together to discuss the refugee and asylum seeker experience in Western Australia and the recovery from torture.

Panel speakers included: April Pearman, Interim CEO at ASeTTS and registered psychologist; Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, researcher and lecturer in the Centre for Human Rights Education and board member of the Refugee Council of Australia; Dr Elizabeth Newnham, Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at Curtin University, and at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University; Kathy Bogoyev, Principal Solicitor and Registered Migration Agent at The Humanitarian Group; Joanna Josephs, Operations Manager at CARAD; and Fatemeh Etemadi, Community Voice: Afghan Community youth leader and Curtin University student.

Each speaker inspired support for the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and those who seek refuge from persecution, torture and displacement.

Thanks go to ASeTTS for organising the event that saw 100 people join us in the Tim Winton Lecture Theatre for the event.

Photo below by Gaylene Galardi. L-R: Caroline Fleay; Joanna Josephs; Fatemeh Etemadi; Kathy Bogoyev; April Pearman; Elizabeth Newnham. For more photos, please see our Photo galleries web page.

Caroline Fleay, Joanne Josephs, Fatemeh Etemadi, Kathy Bogoyev, April Pearman and Elizabeth Newnham

CHRE Research Seminar Series, Seminar Four 2018

On the 20th of June 2018, the Centre was pleased to host Professor Shirley Steinberg, Research Professor of Critical Youth Studies at the University of Calgary.

After and introduction to the seminar series by Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, and an introduction to Professor Steinberg by Centre Director Professor Baden Offord, Shirley presented on ‘Authentic Youth Engagement: Supporting Youth Activism’, speaking about her work with youth in Canada and the support given to their ideas and activism for themselves.

Shirley also presented some of the work celebrated in her latest book, “Activists Under 30: Global Youth, Social Justice, and Hood Work”, (2018).

You can watch her presentation on the Curtin Echo system here.

Photo by Gaylene Galardi. For more photos, please see our Photo galleries web page.

Shirley Steinberg

Dr Lisa Hartley visits the University of Glasgow

From the 18th to 20th of June, CHRE academic Dr Lisa Hartley visited the University of Glasgow, which coincided with the Refugee Festival Scotland, coordinated and produced by the Scottish Refugee Council.

As part of the festival, on the 19th of June Lisa presented on a panel entitled “Secure borders, endangered lives. An international perspective” which was co-hosted with the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum, and Migrant Network (GRAMNet). Lisa discussed other panellists, Dr Cetta Mainwaring (University of Glasgow), and Andrew and Frances Nixseaman (volunteer team coordinators in Chios, Greece), the devastating impacts of border security practices in Europe and Australia on people seeking asylum, but also on the importance of acknowledging and elevating the agency of people affected by such policies.

Lisa also met with academics at the University of Glasgow, including the Professor Alison Phipps, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts. Alison also co-convenes GRAMNet, which is a network of researchers, practitioners, NGOs and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland. The network is an impressive model of how research, advocacy and community engagement can work effectively together, along-side community organisations and refugees, asylum seekers and migrants themselves. GRAMNet shares many synergies with the work of the Centre of Human Rights Education, particularly its work with refugees and people seeking asylum.

Lisa attended Professor Phipps’ inaugural World Refugee Day lecture on 20 June 2018, which was an incredible mix of a traditional lecture and spoken word from Alison and people living the experience of seeking asylum in Scotland, on the idea of refugee ‘integration’. If you’d like to view her talk, you can view it on YouTube.


Photo 1 – Lisa Hartley at the University of Glasgow. Photo 2 – L-R Dr Cetta Mainwaring (University of Glasgow), Dr Giovanna Fassetta (University of Glasgow, GRAMNet), Dr Lisa Hartley (CHRE), Andrew Nixseaman and Frances Nixseaman (volunteer team coordinators in Chios, Greece). Photo 3 – Professor Alison Phipps (University of Glasgow, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts) and Lisa Hartley (CHRE)

CHRE Research Seminar Series, Seminar Three 2018

On the 5th of June 2018, the Centre was privileged to host Professor Ellen Percy Kraly, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Geography at Colgate University in New York and adjunct Professor in Humanities at Curtin University.

Ellen was visiting the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry as a member of the ARC ‘Ancestor’s Words’ Project led by Professor Anna Haebich, and the Centre hosted a research seminar at which Ellen presented on ‘The UN Global Compact for Refugees and Migrants: The Role of Science and Civil Society’.

Ellen was introduced by Professor Haebich and presented UNHCR data showing the trend of global displacement & proportion displaced from 1997-2016, with some alarming figures showing the sharp increase in displaced people in recent years.

Thanks to Anna for introducing Ellen to the CHRE and to those who joined us for a very well attended seminar.

Photo by Gaylene Galardi. For more photos, please see our Photo galleries web page.

Ellen Percy Kraly with Anna Haebich and CHRE staff

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May 2018

CHRE Research Seminar Series, Seminar Two 2018

On Thursday 24 May 2018, we had a great research seminar with guest speaker Enrique Azúa, head of education and public engagement at the National Institute for Human Rights in Chile along with Curtin University academic Dr Antonio Traverso from the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry who kindly translated for Enrique. The session, titled ‘Current Challenges for Human Rights Education: The Chilean Case,’ was a very enlightening seminar about a study Enrique and his team conducted on the Inclusion of Human Rights Education Content in Formal Education Curricula, and the many gaps that exist in the Chilean context. Thanks to Enrique and Antonio for their time in giving the seminar through the Centre for Human Rights Education.

Photo by Gaylene Galardi. For more photos, please visit our Photo galleries web page.

Enrique Azúa

Crossing Borders and Seeking Asylum in Australia: Where the Hell are We? And Where are We Going?

On the 5th of May 2018, the Holmes à Court Gallery and CHRE’s Associate Professor Caroline Fleay organised a one day seminar titled Crossing Borders and Seeking Asylum in Australia: Where the Hell are We? And Where are We Going? Attended by 70 people in the midst of the exhibition The Border Crossers: Clyde McGill at the Holmes à Court Gallery in West Perth, the seminar included presentations by Mehdi Vakili and other people seeking asylum, Caroline, Janet Holmes à Court, Dr Clyde McGill, Dr Judyth Watson and Michelle Bui. Caroline also chaired a panel discussion featuring people seeking asylum and CARAD’s Esther Deng that outlined the great challenges of living in Perth on a temporary visa, and CHRE’s Adjunct Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny chaired a discussion with Federal MPs Josh Wilson (ALP) and Jordan Steele-John (The Greens) about their parties’ asylum seeker policies. The day concluded with Caroline facilitating a lively discussion about community sector responses to punitive asylum seeker policies, and where to from here.

(Photograph: Megan Schlipalius)

Speakers Day at Holmes a Court Gallery

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April 2018

Refugee Stories of Struggle and Success

On the 24th of April 2018, the CHRE’s Dr Lisa Hartley spoke at the ‘Refugee Stories of Struggle and Success’ event at the University of Western Australia.

Oxfam has teamed up with the Perth Global Shapers – an initiative of the World Economic Forum to generate positive impact within their local community, in hosting a presentation on inspiring and powerful stories of refugees whom have fled persecution, faced multiple challenges resettling and more importantly made remarkable contributions to our community.

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March 2018

Centre Director: International Research Assessor for the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research

Centre Director, Professor Baden Offord, was appointed as an International Research Assessor, NWO Social Sciences and Humanities Domain for The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme in March-April 2018.

Post date – 5 April 2018

CHRE Research Seminar Series, Seminar One 2018

On 28 March 2018, Rosemary Sayer and Renee Pettitt-Schipp, two PhD candidates at Curtin University, delivered the Centre for Human Rights Education’s first research seminar for the year. Their seminar, Paying Attention is a Moral Act, shone a light on the lives and experiences of asylum seekers and the way in which they are rendered both invisible and voiceless. Rosemary and Renee discussed how their research has engaged them in thinking more critically about processes that enable them to pay attention to people who seek asylum. Their research findings challenge the way people develop relationships, especially how researchers develop collaborations that subvert the dichotomy of the “I” and the “other” and in so doing demands a form of vulnerability that pays attention to the contribution of each person as a necessary moral act.

Rosemary Sayer is a writer, researcher and former journalist.  She has written three non-fiction books and published a number of journal and newspaper articles.  Her latest book More to the story – conversations with refugees was published in 2015. Rosemary is in the final year of her PhD which explores her dual interests of writing and human rights. Her thesis is titled: Now I know who I am – a non-refugee writing refugee life stories.  Rosemary has worked as a sessional lecturer and tutor in Refugee Rights and Professional Writing at Curtin University.  She serves on the board of the Edmund Rice Centre, a not for profit organisation that assists people from refugee and other migrant backgrounds as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.  Rosemary is also a committee member of PEN Western Australia.

Reneé Pettitt-Schipp lived in the Indian Ocean Territories from 2011 until 2014. Renee’s work with asylum seekers in detention on Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) islands inspired her first collection of poetry, ‘The Sky Runs Right Through Us’.  This manuscript was shortlisted for the inaugural Dorothy Hewett manuscript prize and released by UWA Publishing in February 2018.Reneé’s work has been recognised through many literary awards, including the ACU literature prize, the Ros Spencer Poetry Prize and the Trudy Graham Biennial Literary Award. Renee is currently completing a creative non-fiction manuscript about her time on the islands, as part of her PhD at Curtin University.

(Photos by Yirga Woldeyes and Greg Watson)

Post date – 21 March 2018

CHRE participation, Harmony Day 2018

Dr Yirga Woldeyes was one of five judges who participated in this year’s Harmony Week debate on 21 March 2018. The debate, organised by the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI), took place at the Subiaco Arts Centre and the topic of the debate was “Cultural Diversity is a threat to the Australian way of life”. Yirga reflected that, “There were three student participants on each side and each participant presented powerful, evidence based and critical points. It was interesting to hear how some of the participants interpreted the meaning of ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘The Australian way of life’ in the context of the colonial history of the country.”

You can watch the video recorded live on the OMI Facebook page.


Catalyst for Change film screening for Harmony Week 2018

On the evening of the 15th of March 2018, The Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) co-hosted an event at Curtin University for the beginning of Harmony Week 2018, with the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) and Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network of Western Australia (MYAN WA).

The event saw the launch of the full report from 2017 Catalyst Youth Summit, held the first screening of Catalyst for Change – Harmony Week 2018, a film and screened the full length documentary Cast from the Storm, a powerful documentary about teenagers fleeing war and persecution coming together in a life-changing theatre program. After an introduction from YACWA’s CEO, Ross Wortham, Associate Professor Caroline Fleay said a few words on behalf of the CHRE. The Hon Paul Papalia, Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, also spoke at the event on behalf of the Office of Multicultural Interests who helped support the event.

Pictured below are some of the team from MYANWA and YACWA, and some of the participants in the Catalyst for Change film. Also screened was a music video made with Aronmore College students Same Drum, a message of peace and happiness for Harmony Week. Congratulations to MYANWA/YACWA on a fantastic night!

Photo by Gaylene Galardi. For more photos, please see our Photo galleries web page.

MYAN event Mar 2018
Misty Farquhar Better Together Conference 2018

Post date – 27 March 2018

CHRE PhD candidate presents at the Better Together Conference

On the 12th and 13th of March 2018, Centre PhD candidate, Misty Farquhar, attended and presented at the Better Together Conference, the National conference of the Equality Project which is a new, national organisation bringing together LGBTIQ people with allies across the social justice movement, to advocate for a better, more just, and fairer society for all. Their inaugural LGBTIQ+ conference aimed to facilitate discussion about the value of working together. Through presentations from diverse range of perspectives, attendees had the opportunity to hear about issues they wouldn’t normally engage in.

Misty presented all day on the first day, including: the Opening plenary panel: Are We Better Together?; as a co-facilitator of the Bisexual Caucus session; a Presentation: Hi-Visibility Bi-Visibility: Bisexual Community Organising in WA; and as part of a Panel: Question the Question – Moving Beyond Subconscious Bias.

On reflection, Misty said that, “I think this conference was an excellent exercise in awareness building, for those who were able to attend.”

(Photo of Better Together Conference Participants)

Cover of People Seeking Asylum and Higher Education: Post-National Symposium Report

Post date – 8 March 2018

People Seeking Asylum and Higher Education: Post-National Symposium Report

On 15 November 2017, the National Symposium: Seeking Asylum and Higher Education was hosted by Melbourne Social Equity Institute. The event was co-convened by Dr Lisa Hartley (Centre for Human Rights, Curtin University) and Dr Sally Baker (School of Social Sciences, UNSW). Asher Hirsch Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) and Karen Dunwoodie (Monash University) provided invaluable support. They were supported by a wider steering group comprising colleagues from the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN), the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), the Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education and Melbourne University.

The symposium brought together 25 people with lived experience of seeking asylum and 40 representatives from Australian universities and community organisations to share experiences, concerns, existing good practice and ideas and hopes for future advocacy and practice. The day was designed to listen to and learn from the lived experience of students seeking asylum. As well, participants learnt from each other the experiences of community organisations and universities that had already developed programs and interventions to support students seeking asylum with their education.

The post-symposium report highlights some of the main advocacy priorities and suggestions raised by participants at the symposium and offers some next steps to take on this broad issue.


Post date – 12 March 2018

Human Library at Curtin O week and other venues around Perth

Three Human Library events were held in January, February and March 2018 at The City of Cockburn Australia Day Festival, Curtin University O-Week and at a Canning Vale Primary School Family Event.

The aim of this project is to make it possible for people to engage in a conversation with someone they have never met before and to talk about topics that people often feel cannot be discussed, particularly associated with difference and diversity.

The Curtin O-Week Human Library provided three sessions during O-Week and the eleven volunteers included four members of Curtin: two academic staff members, one administrative staff member and one post-graduate student. Overall, 57 people attended the Human Library events and discussed issues associated with difference and diversity. One of the O-Week sessions also included volunteers from Activ Disability Services and Support as part of the ongoing relationship that is being developed with Perth Human Library.

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February 2018

Post date – 8 March 2018

Dr Yirga Woldeyes receives Faculty award for Teaching Excellence

Yirga received a 2017 Teaching Excellence Award in the ‘Early Career’ Category at the Faculty of Humanities Learning and Teaching Awards on 21 February 2018 at the presentation at Curtin University. The award was presented by Professor Alan Dench, PVC of Humanities, to Professor Baden Offord who accepted the award on behalf of Yirga as he was in Ethiopia at the time.

The award was in recognition of Yirga’s excellent and critically engaging teaching practice as well as his contribution to a critical human rights education pedagogy. Yirga developed Critical Appreciative Dialogue as a methodology for teaching human rights across cultures and religions.

(Photographs by Gaylene Galardi)

Baden Offord accepting award from Alan Dench, Faculty PVC

Post date – 8 March 2018

Congratulations to our graduating students

Congratulations to all of our fifteen students who graduated on the 17th of February 2018 at Curtin University. Before the ceremony the Centre held a meet and greet with those who could attend and their guests for the graduation. It was great to meet some of our online and national students who came over especially for the ceremony, and of course our local students too. Students came from South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and two students had flown back for the ceremony from Scotland and Italy.

Congratulations go to those pictured below from L-R: Alexandra Devitt-Lansom, Sharlene Farrugia, Richard Yaxley, Rebecca Gorjy, Natasha Ross, Gillian Eshman, Taylor Clark, Sara Ambrogio, Anne Marie Baker, and Stefanie Host.

Congratulations also to Racquel Duende, Jessica McCarthy, Isaac Mead, Mikayla Szczecinski and Ashleigh Tapper, who are not pictured.

The CHRE wishes you all the best in your future pursuits.  

(Photo by Gaylene Galardi)

Graduating students February 2018

Post date – 8 March 2018

Book Launch: The Sky Runs Right Through Us

On the 17th of February 2018, Centre Director, Professor Baden Offord, launched Renee Pettitt-Schipp’s beautiful, powerful and activist-focussed book, “The Sky Runs Right Through Us,” published by UWA Press. It was a great evening at St Paul’s in Fremantle.

Professor Gillian Triggs, former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, says of the book: ‘These beautiful Christmas Island poems capture both the despair of asylum seekers imprisoned by rock and sea and their ancient will to continue.’

(Photographs by Christopher Macfarlane)

Post date – 8 March 2018

Dr Yirga Woldeyes’ activities in Ethiopia

On a recent trip to Ethiopia in February 2018, Dr Yirga Woldeyes participated in various speaking engagements and wrote a report which will be detailed here.

On the 14th of February, Yirga was a presenter at a community event about the ‘Commemoration of the Adwa Victory through literature’ at the Ras Hotel in Addis Ababa (Photo 1).

On the 19th of February, Yirga took was part of a workshop at the Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa, discussing his book ‘Native Colonialism‘ in Amharic (Photo 2). You can listen to Yirga speaking about Native Colonialism in this Youtube video.

On the 24th of February, Yirga was interviewed by Yimer Dawod on Radio Fana FM 97.1 on the program ‘Anarji Enawuga’ about A historical and critical analysis on the rise of Native Colonialism in Ethiopia. Yirga is a solo speaker in a five week continuing series on the role of education and the rise of native colonialism in Ethiopia. Based on his research on education in Ethiopia, Yirga discusses the historical, cultural and political violence, transitions, transformations and silences that occurred in Ethiopia during the last one hundred years.

Also in February, Yirga, with Dr Rebecca Higgie, wrote the ‘Preliminary report on conservation concerns for the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.’ The report gives a voice to the conservation concerns of local communities in Lalibela Ethiopia regarding the European Union and the United States funded conservation projects on the rock hewn churches of Lalibela. The rock hewn churches are listed as world heritage. The report is being distributed to international and local stake holders.

Post date – 8 March 2018

CHRE academics participate at the Refugee Alternatives Conference, Melbourne

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay and Dr Lisa Hartley participated in the Refugee Alternatives Conference co-hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia and the University of Melbourne on 13-14 February 2018. The conference drew together people from refugee backgrounds, academics, support agencies and activists to explore a range of issues, including how to work together to realise the rights of people seeking asylum and refugees.

For more information about the 2018 conference program, please visit the website.

Post date – 8 March 2018

ARC Linkage Grant Success for Centre academics

Professor Baden Offord and Dr Lisa Hartley are part of a team of trans faculty researchers to be awarded an ARC Linkage Grant (Australian Research Council ARC-LP170100064) that was announced in early February 2018. The Project is titled “Reducing health disparities for culturally and linguistically diverse peoples,” and aims to develop a greater understanding of migrants and the factors that predict poor health outcomes related to blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections. The delayed access by migrants to healthcare from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds results in late diagnosis, low treatment uptake, and poorer health outcomes, with enhanced risk of infection and increased burden on the health system. The data collected in this project will assist in developing health services to meet these needs.

Research team members include Associate Professor Alison Reid, Professor Bruce Maycock, Associate Professor Rebecca Guy, Dr Graham Brown, Dr Limin Mao, Professor Baden Offord, Dr Lisa Hartley, Dr Roanna Lobo, and Dr Praveena Gunaratnam.

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January 2018

Post date – 12 March 2018

Dr Elfie Shiosaki in new position at UWA

Dr Elfie Shiosaki, CHRE Indigenous Postdoctoral Research Fellow has been appointed as Lecturer in Indigenous Studies and History at UWA from late January 2018. Dr Shiosaki made significant contributions to the CHRE from Jan 2015 and will continue to collaborate with CHRE staff.

Post date – 14 February 2018

Centre Director presents at EASA Biennial Conference, Barcelona

In January, Professor Baden Offord, Director of the CHRE, presented a keynote speech at the EASA Biennial Conference at The University of Barcelona in Spain. The conference, which focused on the theme of “Nationalism Old and New: Europe, Australia and Their Others,” attracted more than 100 scholars and artists from around the world. The conference was co-hosted by the Centre for Australian and Transnational Studies at the University of Barcelona and the Centre for Human Rights Education. Baden’s presentation considered contemporary Australian cultural priorities, which he argued, “have been shaped and imagined, for better or worse, through excoriating and complex self-negotiations and entanglements. As a result, the Australian experience of nation is implicated across specific fault lines of hardness, witnessed through a mixture of denials and pained recognition, for example, about questions of Aboriginal ontological belonging, the deep homophobic roots of the state, and a politics of cruelty that supports the rejection and re-injury of the refugee who comes by boat.” Other speakers included John Curtin Distinguished Professor Suvendrini Perera, whose keynote was on “Troubled Proximities: Europe, Australia and their others,” and looked at questions of sovereignty in the context to two recent events in Australia: the government’s rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the unrelenting violence that accompanied the closure of the Manus camp.

Conference details can be found here.

(Photographs by Christopher Macfarlane)

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