skip to main page content.
A Just Australia
Australian Refugee Foundation
Refugee Week

Latest News

Government must stop deception and do more to protect Iraqis

The Australian Government must stop trying to deceive Australians about its recent cuts to the Refugee and Humanitarian Program and start acting to increase protection options for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. Read more here.

Welfare system review needs greater focus on humanitarian entrants

The Federal Government review of Australia's welfare system must pay more attention to addressing barriers faced by refugees and humanitarian entrants. Read more here.

MPs hear community concerns about weakening protection against race hate

RCOA today welcomed the Australian Government's decision not to proceed with changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. Read more here.

Refugee Council appalled by claims of cruelty to children in detention

RCOA said it was appalled by allegations made today at a national inquiry which if true amounted to the systemic abuse of children. Read more here.

Independent guardian needed to protect interests of child asylum seekers

RCOA has welcomed the release of a new report that recommends the replacement of the Immigration Minister as the guardian of unaccompanied asylum seeker children. Read more here.

Allowing Indian consular access to asylum seekers ignores protection claims

Australia's decision to grant Indian consular officials access to 157 asylum seekers without testing their claims for refugee protection creates a troubling precedent. 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.

Child asylum seekers locked up at higher rate than adults

Child asylum seekers are more likely than their adult counterparts to be held in Australia in a locked detention facility than in community alternatives. Read more here.

Australia's answers on return of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka unsatisfactory

RCOA has demanded Australia explain what has happened to 41 asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka and what guarantees were given about their safety. Read more here.

RCOA backs call for independent observer for screening process

RCOA has endorsed a call for an independent observer to be present during the interviews of asylum seekers under enhanced screening. Read more here.

Lives on the line under proposed changes to Migration Act

RCOA has expressed alarm at proposed changes to the Migration Act 1958 which will significantly increase the risk of people being returned to danger. Read our media release.

UN High Commissioner criticises Australia's 'strange' obsession with boats

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has described as "very strange" Australia's obsession with deterring asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Read more here.

Cambodian NGOs unite in opposition to Australia's refugee deal

RCOA has welcomed a joint statement issued by a coalition of 21 Cambodian NGOs who oppose the planned refugee resettlement deal between Cambodia and Australia. Read more here.

Running an asylum policy on cruelty leads to deadly consequences

RCOA President Phil Glendenning fears a repeat of the tragic self-immolation of a Tamil asylum seeker in Melbourne unless Australia abandoned its cruel and punitive policy approach. Read more here.

Refugee review changes a matter of life and death for asylum seekers

Proposed legislation aimed at fast-tracking refugee claims will take legal resources away from asylum seekers and hand them to the Australian Government, increasing the risk of vulnerable people being sent back to danger. Read more here.

Critical questions about Manus Island violence remain unanswered

The Australian Government's explanation for February's violence on Manus Island is inadequate and leaves critical questions unanswered. 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.

Detention centre closures must be accompanied by community alternatives

RCOA has welcomed plans to close six immigration detention centres but called for greater use of community arrangements for more than 3000 asylum seekers in detention. Read more here.

Enough is Enough: It's time for a new approach

On the first anniversary of the report on the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, 64 Australian NGOs have called for a new approach to refugee and asylum policy that delivers protection to refugees. Read more here.


Annual Intake Submission

RCOA's annual intake submission brings together commuity views and extensive research on issues to consider in planning the coming year's refugee program.


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