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Past talks

Jon Lawrence
RightsTalk: The Digital Rights Agenda with Jon Lawrence
Hosted by Tim Wilson Human Rights Commissioner
Tuesday 24 March 2015

Join Executive Officer of Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc, Jon Lawrence to discuss the hot topics and current issues of the digital rights movement in 2015.

In this session Jon will cover:

  • protecting freedom of expression
  • achieving meaningful privacy
  • resisting mass surveillance
  • promoting copyright reform
  • realising equality of access (bridging the digital divide)
  • data retention
  • copyright enforcement
  • fair use
  • net neutrality

Jon Lawrence has 20 years of experience in the IT/Internet industries, primarily in product and relationship development roles. He has worked in Australia, the UK, Denmark and the US for a wide range of commercial organisations, from four person start-ups to large-scale media companies.

He has been an interested observer of the international internet governance field since 1999 and has been an active advocate for digital rights since 2011. His areas of policy interest include freedom of speech, privacy, copyright reform, bridging the digital divide and resisting unnecessary mass surveillance.

Jon completed a Master of International Relations at the University of Melbourne in 2011 and is also a non-Executive Director of the Internet Society of Australia.

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.

Rashida Manjoo
Continuing and New Challenges in the Quest to Eliminate Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences
Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Wednesday 11 February 2015

States have an affirmative obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including fulfilling the responsibility to act with due diligence to eliminate violence against women. Elimination of violence against women is critical to women’s ability to participate in the civil, political, economic, developmental, social and cultural spheres of their communities as full and equal citizens. Unfortunately, pervasive levels of violence, and a culture of impunity, fundamentally jeopardize the realization of women’s right to a life free of violence, and the right to participate fully in their communities.

In this presentation, I will discuss the continuing and new challenges to effectively address violence against women as highlighted in my 2014 reports to the HRC and the General Assembly, which include among others: the shift to gender neutrality; the persisting public-private dichotomy in responses to violence against women; the failure of States to act with due diligence in eliminating violence against women; the lack of transformative remedies that address the root causes of violence against women, including individual, institutional and structural aspects; the financial crisis, austerity measures and cuts in social services spending; the shift in understanding of gendered responses and the move towards a focus on men and boys; and the lack of a legally binding instrument to hold both States and non-state actors accountable for this human rights violation, as a violation in and of itself.

Speaker: Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, and Professor, Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town