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If you have any queries you can also contact the Commision's Communications unit.

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Fax02 9284 9849

Past talks

Paula Gerber
RightsTalk: Rights in a Crowded Classroom
Moderator: Associate Professor Paula Gerber, Deputy Director Castan Centre for Human Rights, Monash University
Wednesday 11 March 2015

Location: Monash Conference Centre, Level 7, 30 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

With the national curriculum once again in focus, it’s timely to reflect on the place of human rights in education. Is it the role of schools to teach issues like race relations and disability rights? If so, how? And how can schools engage with human rights and diversity beyond the curriculum?

Join our panellists:

Kate Jenkins
Kate Jenkins
Libby Tudball
Libby Tudball
Tim Soutphommasane
Tim Soutphommasane
Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson
  • Kate Jenkins, Commissioner, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights
  • Dr. Libby Tudball, Director Undergraduate Programs, Faculty of Education, Monash University
  • Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Chris Thompson, Director, Priority Cohorts Branch, Department of Education and Training

Moderator: Associate Professor Paula Gerber, Deputy Director Castan Centre for Human Rights, Monash University

The Commission will also be launching its range of new schools education resources on disability, race relations and human rights for maths, geography, history and health/physical education at this event.

The venue is wheelchair accessible. If you have any requirements that will assist in your full participation please contact

Cost: RightsTalk is free and open to the general public, however spaces are limited. Please register at

Monash University - Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

George Newhouse
Rights Talk: CPCF v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection – When statutory interpretation trumps international legal norms
George Newhouse
Tuesday 3 March 2015

In this session, Shine Lawyers, Special Counsel, George Newhouse will discuss the unanswered questions arising from the High Court decision in the recent case of 157 Tamils intercepted and detained by Australian Border Protection on the high seas

The recent High Court decision of CPCF v Minister of Immigration and Border Protection upheld the legality of the Government’s decision to hold 157 Tamil asylum seekers on a Customs vessel for almost a month and take them on a fruitless voyage to India. It also reaffirmed the principle that Australian courts are bound to apply Australian Statute law even if that law violates a rule of international law.

Commentators often analyse a High Court decision like a football game, with winners and losers, CPCF was much more nuanced than that. The case gives slender hope to asylum seekers who fear refoulement (ie being returned to harm or persecution) because the High Court found that Australian law requires that a maritime officer cannot "place" or "keep" a person in a particular place unless he or she is satisfied on reasonable grounds that it is "safe for the person to be in that place". Many of the judges observed that the obligation to keep “safe” would encompass considerations of refoulement.

As a result of CPCF’s High Court Challenge, the Australian Government hurriedly pushed through a raft of amendments to the Migration Act and to the Maritime Powers Act to allow much greater flexibility and discretion in removing asylum seekers from the high seas to other places.

The amendments reduced the ability of the courts to review decisions at sea and redefined the Government’s obligations under the Refugee Convention by limiting its operation; but failed to remove the one protection that the High Court found is still effective, and which stops the Australian Government from leaving a person in a place where they would be at risk of physical harm.

George Newhouse is an Australian human rights lawyer and the former Mayor of Waverley. Newhouse is a practicing solicitor and leads Shine Lawyers’ Social Justice team.

He is well known for his work with the disadvantaged, in particular for refugees, detainees, people with mental illness and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. He established the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce in 2008 to promote Indigenous entrepreneurship and he is a member of the Board of the Stolen Generations Testimony Foundation.

In August 2009 Newhouse travelled to PNG to establish the Adrian Lam Foundation to assist youth in PNG through education and sport. He also serves as company secretary for the McKell Institute, a progressive public policy institute dedicated to developing practical policy ideas and contributing to public debate.

Dr Mark Dybul
RightsTalk: HIV, Human Rights and the Global Fund
Dr Mark Dybul, hosted by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson
Thursday 12 February 2015

Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, will host a discussion with Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund on Thursday 12 February.

The Global Fund is a 21st-century organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases. The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in more than 140 countries.

Mark Dybul has worked on HIV and public health for more than 25 years as a clinician, scientist, teacher and administrator. After graduating from Georgetown Medical School in Washington D.C., Dybul joined the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he conducted basic and clinical studies on HIV virology, immunology and treatment optimization, including the first randomized, controlled trial with combination antiretroviral therapy in Africa. Dybul became a founding architect and driving force in the formation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, better known as PEPFAR. After serving as Chief Medical officer, Assistant, Deputy and Acting director, he was appointed as its leader in 2006, becoming U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, with the rank of Ambassador at the level of an Assistant Secretary of State. He served until early 2009. Before coming to the Global Fund, Dybul was co-director of the Global Health Law Program at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, where he was also a Distinguished Scholar. Dybul has written extensively in scientific and policy literature, and has received several Honorary Degrees and awards.

Suri Ratnapala
RightsTalk: ‘Rights, ‘Liberty’ and ‘Civilisation’
Suri Ratnapala, hosted by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson
Tuesday 10 February 2015

‘Right’, ‘liberty’ and ‘civilisation’ are contested ideas. The nature of civilisation or its absence altogether in a given age depends critically on the kind of rights that prevails in that time. Many civilisations in the past were built on conquest, genocide, slavery and plunder. They produced wondrous monuments, great cities, immortal works of art and even profound philosophy but the condition of the ordinary person was one of abject poverty and servitude. One civilisation alone emancipated unprivileged persons politically and economically on a mass scale. That civilisation is our own. The author contends that liberty founded on a certain conception of right is what distinguishes this civilisation from those of the past. The defence of this achievement is a moral imperative.

Suri Ratnapala is Professor of Public Law at the T C Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. He teaches constitutional law and jurisprudence, fields in which he has published widely. His recent books include Australian Constitutional Law: Foundations and Theory and Jurisprudence. He is a recipient of a John Templeton Foundation Award for his teaching in political, economic and social theory and a Centenary of Australian Federation Medal for his contribution to Australian society through research in law and economics. He is an Allan McGregor Fellow of the Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney. Professor Ratnapala has been a consultant with USAID, AusAid, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in institutional capacity building projects in Asia.

Rights Ed logo
RightsTalk: Rights in a crowded classroom
Dr Phil Lambert PSM, Justin Mohamed, Annabel Astbury, Jim Asimakopolous OAM
Monday 1 December 2014

Gillian Triggs speaking at launch of RightsEd, 1 December 2014

Audio: Part 1


Audio: Part 2


With the national curriculum once again in focus, it's timely to reflect on the place of human rights in education. Is it the role of schools to teach issues like race relations and disability rights? If so, how? And how can schools engage with human rights and diversity beyond the curriculum? 

Join our panellists:

  • Dr Phil Lambert PSM,  General Manager, Curriculum, Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority
  • Justin Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer, Reconciliation Australia
  • Annabel Astbury, Head, Digital Education, ABC
  • Jim Asimakopolous OAM, Manager, Abilities and Disability Awareness Program, Victorian Department of Education and Training.

The Commission will also be launching its range of new schools education resources on disability, race relations and human rights for maths, geography, history and health/physical education at this event.

Dr Phil Lambert Bio

Phil Lambert

Dr Lambert has extensive experience in education as a principal, inspector, Executive Director, Assistant Director-General, Regional Director and General Manager. He has authored books and presented a number of papers and keynotes at national & international conferences. Phil has a MEd in Educational Administration & Management and completed his doctorate at the University of Sydney.

Phil has received a number of honours, awards and acknowledgements during his career. In the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours he was awarded the Public Service Medal for his outstanding contribution to education and was acknowledged for his outstanding community work and leadership in a unanimous resolution in the Parliament of NSW. In 2006 he represented NSW at the World Educational Leadership Conference in Boston, USA and in 2010 represented NSW at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. He was a member of the Australian team at the 2013 Global Education Leaders Program held in New Delhi, India and in London this year. At the request of the Brazilian government he travelled to Sao Paulo in May 2014 and in August 2014 travelled to Saudi Arabia at the request of the Public Education Evaluation Commission.

Phil is both an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney and Adjunct Professor at Nanjing Normal University, China. He was the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Australian College of Educators’ award, the Sir Harold Wyndham Medal.

Phil has many interests and contributes to society in various ways. He has been learning Mandarin since 2009, was an industry judge for the 2013 TV Week Logie Awards and he is a member of the National Rugby League Central Advisory Committee. Phil is also a long standing Board member of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and is Deputy Chair on the Board of the national Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children.

Justin Mohamed Bio

Justin Mohamed

Justin Mohamed is a Gooreng Gooreng man from Bundaberg in Queensland. He worked with Victorian Aboriginal communities for 20 years before being elected to as Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). Prior to his role at NACCHO, Justin was the inaugural director of the Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE), an initiative of the Rumabalara Football/Netball Club.

He chaired the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, and is Co-Chair of the National Health Leadership Forum. He has also held positions on multiple community, state and national working groups, committees and boards and continues to be a director of the Greater Western Sydney Giants Foundation and Chairperson of Ganbina.

Annabel Astbury Bio

Annabel Astbury

Annabel Astbury is Head, Digital Education at the ABC and is working with a great team to deliver ABC Splash which is one of Australia’s leading education sites which now has over 2500 resources mapped to the Australian Curriculum. ABC Splash worked with the Human Rights Commission to produce Choose Your Own Statistics, an interactive way for students to learn about Human Rights issues in Australia and across the world.

Jim Asimakopolous OAM Bio

Jim Asimakopolous

Jim Asimakopolous, AOM,  has lived with Cerebral Palsy all his life.  In 1988 he pioneered the Abilities and Disability Awareness Program with the Department of Education & Early Childhood Development, and has since delivered over 4,600 workshops and spoken to over 130,000 people.

Jim visits schools, community groups and football clubs across Victoria, promoting inclusion in schools and society. As a powerful role model to many students, the aim of his program is to make all people aware of what they can do, not what they can’t do.