Human rights advocate to give free USC lecture

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Human rights advocate to give free USC lecture


4 May 2016

The future of hundreds of asylum seekers on Manus Island will be one of the topics discussed at a free public lecture by a leading human rights academic at the University of the Sunshine Coast tomorrow morning (10-11am Thursday 5 May).

Professor of Human Rights at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research and refugee advocate, Linda Briskman, will discuss concerns for the men after Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled the detention centre unconstitutional and ordered its closure.

“Advocates, academics and health providers are anxiously awaiting how the Australian Government will respond and what will happen to the men held there against their will,” she said.

Professor Briskman said her address would also cover the issues of “dual loyalty, social work codes of ethics, bearing witness and complicity” for social workers in offshore sites such as Nauru and Manus Island when speaking about human rights violations.

“Social work’s commitment to social justice provokes us to speak out about human rights violations to which we bear witness, but there are limits to social work courage,” she said.

Professor Briskman’s main areas of research and advocacy are Indigenous rights, asylum seeker rights and Islamophobia. She is widely published and her international work includes comparative research on asylum seekers in Indonesia and Iran.

Her address will be the first of two free public lectures to be held this month by USC’s Social Work program.

On Thursday 12 May, Professor of Social Work at the University of Tasmania, Bob Pease, will present a lecture titled “Critical transnational social work”.

“The paper will explore how social workers at the interface between local and global issues may unwittingly reproduce systemic oppression and privilege, while espousing the values of social justice and human rights,” said Professor Pease, who has worked in social work education for more than 30 years and is the author or co-editor of 14 books.

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— Clare McKay

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