30 years after the launching of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children are being held in appalling conditions in military detention in Palestine, behind wire in Mexico, on Manus and Nauru as part of Australia’s offshore processing policy and in a prison condemned for adult occupation in the NT of Australia. Children with mental disabilities suffer doubly in custody and in institutional care.
This panel session by Deakin Law School in conjunction with the International Commission of Jurists Victoria brings together global experts in person, online and by video to highlight the growing concern that the rights of children have been lost in the miasma of political rhetoric. Our panel will answer questions on their experience of the practical and legal issues in their roles attempting to find dignity and respect for children subjected to the harshest of treatment. Panellists will be:
- Professor Felicity Gerry QC – Melbourne and London QC and Professor of Legal Practice at Deakin – expert in international legal issues including terrorism and with particular expertise in relation to vulnerability in Justice Systems. Currently instructed in a case concerning Australian citizen women and children in Syrian camps.
- Dr Paul McDonough – is a lecturer at Deakin Law School. In 2015-16 he served in the UNHCR liaison to the European Asylum Support Office. His duties included developing child-sensitive training programmes for asylum officials and supporting the administrative implementation of the EU’s coordinated response to the influx of refugees.
- Gerard Horton – Former Sydney barrister and co-founder of Military Court Watch, an NGO that monitors the detention and prosecution of children by the Israeli military.
- Matthew Albert – Melbourne barrister, winner of the John Gibson award for contributions to human rights and pro bono advocate in multiple cases in the Federal and High Court concerning the urgent medical transfers of detained children to Australia for medical treatment.
- John Lawrence QC – Darwin barrister and campaigner for the rights of Aboriginal children in detention in the Northern Territory.
- Dr Oliver Lewis – Former Executive Director of the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), an NGO in Budapest working for the rights of people with disabilities and mental health issues in Europe and Africa and Professor of Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds.
- Julie Gilbert Rosicky – Executive Director International Social Service, USA.
- Cassandra Seery – an Associate Lecturer at Deakin Law School specialising in child rights and policy and a former member of the Victorian public service, where she led the vulnerable children portfolio in Aboriginal Affairs and specialised in other related portfolio areas including multicultural affairs, family violence and youth justice.
- Nicki Lees – a Senior Associate in Maurice Blackburn’s social justice practice. She was previously involved in the class action for people who did not receive adequate care while in immigration detention on Christmas Island and is currently working on a class action regarding the unlawful detention of people seeking asylum. The lead plaintiffs in both of these matters have been children. Nicki has also been involved in a number of individual tort claims regarding the treatment of children in immigration detention, including multiple urgent medical transfer matters in the Federal Court.