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Australian Refugee Foundation
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Australia's focus on deterrence challenged in global forum

RCOA has challenged the Australian Government's promotion of its "regional deterrence network" as governments, NGOs and international bodies gather in Geneva for a global dialogue on protection at sea. Read more here.

Asylum laws will fast-track vulnerable people to danger

The passage of the Australian Government's asylum legislation is a shattering blow for asylum seekers who face the grave risk of being returned to danger. Read more here.

PM urged to remove all children from immigration detention

RCOA has written to the Prime Minister urging him to remove children from immigration detention facilities in Australia and Nauru. Read more here.

Housing issues for refugees and asylum seekers

RCOA has released a new report on challenges and alternatives in sustainable housing for refugees and asylum seekers. Read it here.

UN Committee takes aim at Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill

Cross-bench Senators have been urged to take note of a report from one of the UN's foremost authorities on the prevention of torture. Read more here.

End to resettlement from Indonesia adds insult to injury

Australia's refusal to resettle refugees who sought protection in Indonesia after June 2014 will cement Australia's reputation as a bad neighbour. Read more here.

Temporary Protection Visas will separate families indefinitely

RCOA has highlighted the devastating impact of the Australian Government's proposed Temporary Protection Visas in forcing the indefinite separation of families. Read more here.

Australia must stop returns following torture of asylum seeker

RCOA president Phil Glendenning has again pleaded with the Department of Immigration to halt forcible returns of asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Read more here.

Governments challenged to end neglect of African crises

Delegates from 94 nations including Australia have been challenged to end the global neglect of Africa's 15 million displaced people. Read more here.

Australia urged to take more constructive response to global refugee crises

The crises in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic and South Sudan and efforts to eliminate statelessness will dominate discussions at a key UNHCR meeting. Read more here.

Punishment not protection for refugees sent to Cambodia

The agreement to be signed this week between Australia and Cambodia to resettle refugees from Nauru will leave refugees at further risk. Read more here.

Australia ignores UN call for action on statelessness

As the world commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Statelessness Convention, stateless people in Australia have little to celebrate. Read more here.

Refugee Welcome Zone initiative reaches its century

RCOA's Refugee Welcome Zone initiative has reached a milestone with more than 100 councils signing on. Read more here.

National Party's call for more refugee places a positive step

RCOA has backed calls by the Government's Coalition partner the National Party for an expanded Refugee and Humanitarian Program. Read more here.

Australia must step up to support Syrian refugees

News that the number of Syrian refugees has passed three million confirms that Australia's decision to cut its refugee program could not have come at a worse time, says RCOA. Read more here.

No excuse for ongoing detention of children

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has failed to offer an adequate justification for the ongoing detention of children on Christmas Island and Nauru, says RCOA. Read more here.

Efforts to return Syrian refugees unconscionable

RCOA is alarmed by media reports that Syrian asylum seekers detained on Manus Island are being pressured by Australian Government officials to return home. Read more here.

Government removes Refugee Council's core funding

The Australian Government has completely cut core funding to RCOA despite allocating $140,000 just two weeks ago in its 2014-15 Budget. Read more here.

Federal Budget summary 2014-15

RCOA has released a summary of refugee-related spending in the 2014-15 Federal Budget. Read more here.


'The police had machine guns and they were shooting at us.'

Actor, writer and director Tony Le Nguyen fled Vietnam with his family in the wake of the Vietnam war.


John Gibson 1950-2012

RCOA and the refugee sector lost one of its best and most-loved advocates on Friday 28 September 2012 with the passing of John Gibson. He had fought a long battle with cancer but remained engaged with the issues affecting the refugee sector even in his final days.

John was engaged in the refugee sector in different capacities for more than 25 years. He served as RCOA President between January 2006 and August 2012 and was a member of the board since 2003. He was the founding chairperson of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc (also known as Foundation House). He was also a Member (Part-Time) of the Refugee Review Tribunal for four years, during which time he dealt with asylum cases from a wide range of countries.

John was engaged in projects analysing asylum systems in overseas countries as a Senior Associate with Eurasylum Ltd based in Brussels. He became a Member of the Victorian Bar in 1981 and began a specialist practice in refugee and migration law in 1999. He was junior counsel in two leading High Court cases – Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v Yusuf (2001) 20 6 CLR 325 and NAGV and NAGW of 2002 v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs  (2005) 213 ALR 668. He also appeared as junior counsel on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, intervening as amicus curiae in the High Court appeal from QAAH of 2004 v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

John was the editor of a CD-ROM Legal Service and of a weekly email case-note service for migration practitioners. He conducted training courses in Australia and overseas on a variety of refugee-related issues and on several occasions made oral and written submissions to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee on Migration Bills.

On 13 September, members of the Victorian Bar inducted John as a Legend of the Victorian Bar in recognition of his achievements and service to the public and administration of justice. Since the Legends of the Victorian Bar was established in 1998, only 34 barristers have been inducted. The Honourable Justice David Beach, in his address at the 2012 Legends Dinner, likened the Legends to a football team whose members "have made great contributions both to the administration of justice and society generally". He named John as team captain - "the person whose contributions, in appearing for and looking after [those in need], without fee, for years and years, without any expectation of reward or acknowledgement, have most gone unremarked".

The University of Melbourne is also establishing the John Gibson Prize in Refugee Law, which will be awarded annually.

In a statement released on the day John died, CEO Paul Power said John was widely respected for his knowledge of refugee law, his advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers and his leadership of Australia's refugee sector. "Those who knew him well will remember John not only for his legal expertise and leadership but also for his people skills, particularly his amazing capacity to make friendships and build connections between people wherever he went," the statement read. "John was as much at home talking to asylum seekers and refugees about their lives and their hopes as he was advocating on their behalf with senior leaders of governments and United Nations agencies. His passing after a long illness is devastating. Everyone who knew John will consider themselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him and to have known him."

In November, The Age published a moving obituary describing John as a "warrior for justice and human rights".


Last updated October 2012