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Refugee Rights: The Widening Gulf Across the Tasman

Media Release

7 August 2018

Refugee Rights: The Widening Gulf Across the Tasman Former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission to speak in New Zealand

Professor Gillian Triggs is to be the inaugural speaker for “At the Forefront: Human Rights Speaker Series”.

Professor Triggs has been at the forefront of refugee issues in Australia and intends to provide a candid and informed critique of Australia’s refugee policy, and the Australian Government’s detention of New Zealanders.

Professor Triggs is the former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission (2012-2017), former Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney (2007-12). She is currently Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Tribunal.

At the Forefront: Human Rights Speaker Series is an initiative of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand (‘HCNZ’) and is focused exclusively on human rights.

Dianne Davis, Deputy Chair of HCNZ said: “This inaugural presentation is important to the Holocaust Centre as it marks a new initiative and direction for us in our efforts to underline the reality that the lessons of the Holocaust are enduring. There continues to be the need to stand up against prejudice and discrimination – the need to always be an ‘up-stander’ not a ‘by-stander’.

“We are particularly pleased to have Gillian Triggs as our first speaker, she is a woman who has been at the very centre of human rights and refugee issues in Australia. Her presentation: ‘Refugee Rights: The Widening Gulf Across the Tasman’ will be insightful and a great springboard for a much wider discussion and debate on the evening.”

“Her experiences in Australia during the time of the issues around the ‘Boat People’, Manus Island and the deportation of New Zealand citizens will provide a fascinating perspective from someone who has been at the heart of these issues.

“Gillian Triggs has visited New Zealanders in detention in Australia and will provide a first-hand account of her alarm at their condition,” Ms Davis said.

Professor Triggs will address such issues as the cancellation of visas that led to the detention of the New Zealand citizens by Australia, the refusal of the Australian Government to accept the New Zealand Government’s refugee offer (and the increased use by the Australian Government of executive ministerial discretion not subject to either merits or judicial review), and her view that Australia needs a Charter of Rights broadly along the lines of the New Zealand model.

Her presentation will be followed by questions from the floor.

“Our intention, with the ‘At the Forefront: Human Rights Speaker Series’ is to invite speakers who are not afraid to stand up for the rights of others, often at considerable personal cost. We are delighted to have someone of the calibre of Gillian Triggs as our inaugural speaker,” said Dianne Davis.

Notes for the Editor:

Human Rights Speaker Series

Professor Gillian Triggs: ‘Refugee Rights: The Widening Gulf Across The Tasman’

7 August, 7.30pm

Lecture Theatre 2, Old Government Buildings

Victoria University (Pipitea Campus)

15 Lambton Quay.


8 August, 7.30pm

Room WG308 (‘Te Iringa)

Mezzanine, Sir Paul Reeves Building

AUT City Campus, 2 Grovernor Fitzroy Place


Bio Information on Professor Gillian Triggs:

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs is former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission (‘HRC’), and the new Chair of Justice Connect, a non-profit dedicated to connecting people locked out of the justice system with free legal help. She is also Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Tribunal.

Gillian was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007-12, and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005-07. She is a former barrister and a Governor of the College of Law. She graduated in Law from the University of Melbourne in 1968 and gained a PhD in 1982.

Gillian has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and has advised the Australian and other governments and international organisations on international legal and trade disputes. She is also the author of many books and papers on international law, including International Law, Contemporary Principles and Practices.

Information About the New Zealand Holocaust Centre:

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand (HCNZ) is the nation’s leading organisation in Holocaust education and remembrance, dedicated to ensuring the lessons of the Holocaust remain relevant today and for future generations. Their activities span teaching, research, publishing, archiving, public commemorations and events, and recording and sharing survivor testimonies.

The Centre is open to the public - offering a vital historical overview of Holocaust survivor's journeys to a safe haven in New Zealand (Aotearoa).

HCNZ is active in student/teacher education and human rights - challenging discrimination and prejudice, and encouraging diversity and inclusiveness in a modern democracy.

HCNZ Vision
“Through testimony, experience and advocacy, the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand inspires and empowers individuals to stand against prejudice, discrimination and apathy”.

Promoting human rights education as the cornerstone of a liberal, democratic and inclusive society.

Flyer: Human_Rights_Speaker_Series_FINAL.pdf

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