UNSW News | 31 October 2013
Australia’s first centre specialising in international refugee law has been launched at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), with the aim of raising the quality of public policy and debate about asylum seekers and refugees.
Based at UNSW Law, the centre has been established through the generosity of Renata Kaldor AO and Andrew Kaldor AM, motivated by their own deep concern about Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. The Centre is supported by a high-profile advisory board comprised of leading refugee experts, business people and opinion leaders of all political persuasions, including former NSW Premier Nick Greiner and barrister Julian Burnside.
Themselves refugees who fled to Australia from Eastern Europe after World War II, the Kaldors said when the opportunity arose to help establish the Centre, the choice was clear.
In escaping Europe, our families resorted to assistance that would today be classed as illegal. Australia was welcoming, open and generous to us. We therefore feel both a debt to Australia and empathy with those refugees who are fleeing their homes without proper documents or assistance aid.
The centre’s founding director Professor Janice McAdam said one of its priorities will be to provide “thought leadership to re-orient the approach to asylum law and policy in this country”:
The Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law will help us move beyond the sound bites and slogans that dumb down public policy, and will open up a space for questions, debate, and informed opinion-making.
Asylum seekers are an easy target for anxieties about national security, unemployment and demographic composition…. [and] politicians have fuelled fears that asylum seekers present a threat not only to the integrity of our borders, but to the national fabric as a whole. Certain elements of the media have not only fanned the flames but poured on the accelerant.