Who we are

Founding directors

Dr Olivia Ball
Olivia Ball
Olivia is a highly qualified human rights advocate with expertise in human rights reporting and teaching, policy, research and campaigning, refugee trauma counselling and rights-based development, gained in diverse international roles in academia and the NGO sector. She is recognised for published writing and editing, including RightsBase.org and the acclaimed No-Nonsense Guide to Human Rights.
Olivia has a Masters in Human Rights from London University and in 2013 she completed a PhD at the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, focussing on human rights complaints brought against Australia to the UN treaty committees. She located and interviewed most of the authors of the first 33 cases exposing Australian breaches of international law (1994—2013), as determined by the UN Human Rights Committee, the Torture Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Her purpose was to ascertain how complaining to the UN impacts authors' lives, what it costs them, what it achieves and whether they think it is worth doing. She uncovered the value of procedural remedies to victims, as well as the challenges in securing effective substantive remedies.
Nick Toonen OAM
Nick Toonen
Nick is an experienced non-profit leader who's passionate about civil society organisations that work towards change. His 25 years of non-profit experience spans leadership of health, human rights, social service and community education organisations.
Nick co-founded the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group (TGLRG) in 1988, and took a leading role in the 9 year campaign to remove state laws discriminating against gay men. On behalf of the TGLRG he took the first Australian complaint under the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. In 1994 the UN Human Rights Committee found that the Tasmanian laws violated his human rights under the ICCPR. The decision (combined with the effect of the ongoing campaign) secured the enactment of the federal Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994, and then the repeal of the offending state laws by the Tasmanian parliament in 1997.
In 2003 Nick was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community as a human rights advocate, particularly through promoting the rights of gay and lesbian people.

Advisory Council

Prof. Hilary Charlesworth
Hilary Charlesworth
Educated at Melbourne University and Harvard Law School, Hilary Charlesworth is Professor of International Law and Human Rights and Director of the Centre for International Governance and Justice in the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University. She has held visiting appointments at US and European universities. She held an ARC Federation Fellowship from 2005-10 and currently holds an ARC Laureate Fellowship.
She was President of the Australian and NZ Society of International Law (1997-2001). She is on the editorial boards of a number of international law journals and served as Co-Editor of the Australian Yearbook of International Law 1996-2006 and on the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law 1999-2009. She was joint winner of the American Society of International Law's 2006 Goler T Butcher Medal.
She has worked with various NGOs on ways to implement international human rights standards and chaired the Australian Capital Territory government's inquiry into a bill of rights, which led to the ACT Human Rights Act 2004. In 2001, she was appointed judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice for the Whaling in the Antarctic case.
Prof. Mary Crock
Mary Crock
Mary Crock is Professor of Public Law at Sydney University. Educated at Melbourne University, she has worked in the area of immigration and refugee law since 1985. With broad interests in human rights, she has served in executive positions for the Law Council of Australia and the Refugee Council of Australia; and worked as adviser to the Australian Senate (Inquiry into Australia's Refugee and Humanitarian Program, 2000) and as consultant to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (on immigration detention). In and after 1989 she helped to establish and run the Victorian Immigration Advice and Rights Centre Inc in Melbourne, now the Refugee and Immigration Law Centre (Vic). She has written extensively on issues related to immigration and refugee law, authoring 8 books and many chapters and articles.
She is currently working on 3 large research projects. One is a comparative law and policy project run in conjunction with Harvard University and the London School of Economics (and a range of other universities in Australia and overseas). The second concerns refugee children and youth, while the third studies refugees with disability, in collaboration with UNHCR and the Women's Commission for Refugees.
Rodney Croome AM
Rodney Croome
Rodney Croome will be known to many LGBT Australians as a spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group. In that capacity he fronted the long campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania. That campaign saw Tasmanian activists take their case for equality not only to the parliament and people of Tasmania, but to the UN, the Federal Government and the High Court. The island state now has some of Australia's best laws, policies and attitudes on homosexuality.
Rodney was also founding president and long-term board member of Tasmanian LGBT support organisation Working It Out project officer of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's rural LGBT youth network, Outlink, and Co-convenor of the Australia Council for Lesbian and Gay Rights. In this latter capacity Rodney became the first gay advocate to speak at a UN forum.
Currently, Rodney is the National Director of Australian Marriage Equality. His awards include the 1991 Tasmanian Humanitarian of the Year Award, Chris Carter Memorial Award, Melbourne Rainbow Award, Tasmania Day Community Service Award and a Centenary of Federation Medal.
Elizabeth Evatt AC
Elizabeth Evatt
Elizabeth Evatt has practiced law in Australia and England. She has held a number of positions, including that of Chief Judge of the Family Court of Australia, 1976 to 1988, and President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, 1988 to 1993. From 1984 to 1992 she was a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; she chaired the Committee from 1989-1991. From 1993 to 2000 she was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. Currently she is a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, based in Geneva.
She has been a patron and member of the Community Justice Coalition (Sydney) since its inception in 2009. Since 2006 she has been a Board member of Equality Now (an international NGO working for the rights of women).
Prof. Sarah Joseph
Sarah Joseph
Sarah Joseph is a Professor of Human Rights Law and the Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University, as well as an Adjunct Professor at Vrije University, Amsterdam. Her research interests lie largely in the area of international human rights law, with publications, for example, on the intersection of human rights issues and, for example, global trade regimes, multinational corporations, intellectual property, and terrorism. She has also written articles on freedom of speech and the right of self-determination. She is the main author of the key book on the ICCPR, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Cases Materials and Commentary (OUP, 3rd ed, 2013), and is an expert on the case law arising from that treaty. She is a regular contributor to media debate on human rights issues, and is a regular columnist at The Conversation. Her latest research lies in the area of human rights and the media, including social media, as well as human rights and pop culture. She is also an expert on Australian constitutional law. You can find her on twitter at @profsarahj
Prof. Ron McCallum AO
Ron McCallum
Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum studied law at Monash University in Melbourne and completed a Master of Laws at Queen's University, Canada. A labour & employment law specialist, he taught at Monash for 18 years. In 1993 he was appointed a professor at Sydney University - the first totally blind person to be made a full professor at an Australian or New Zealand university. He served as Dean of Sydney Law School 2002-07.
He is a Deputy-Chair of the Board of Vision Australia which assists blind and visually impaired persons. In 2011, he was Senior Australian of the Year.
Ron was nominated by the Australian government to stand as an independent expert for the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities when that Committee was first established in 2008. Its primary function is to monitor implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ron served as inaugural member, then Chair of this Committee and as Vice-Chair. He also served as the Chair of the UN Committee of the Chairs of all of the UN Treaty Bodies in 2011-2012.
Nick Poynder
Nick Poynder
Nick Poynder is a Sydney-based barrister. He is originally from Tasmania where he studied at the University of Tasmania and was admitted to practice in 1984. He moved to Melbourne in 1986 and was admitted to the Victorian Bar in September 1990. Nick was a Senior Legal Officer with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission from 1996-1998. Nick joined the NSW Bar in 1998 and he continues a practice at the Victorian Bar.
Nick's practice is in administrative law, primarily migration. He is a registered migration agent and appears at all levels up to the High Court. He is one of Australia's most experienced lawyers representing people lodging communications with the United Nations human rights treaty committees, among them A v Australia (1997); Winata & Li v Australia (2001); C v Australia (2002); Baban v Australia (2003), Bakhtiyari & Bakhtiyari v Australia (2003); D & E v Australia (2006) and Kwok v Australia (2009).
Prof. Ben Saul
Ben Saul
Ben Saul is Professor of International Law and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of Sydney. Ben is internationally recognised as a leading expert on global counter-terrorism law, human rights, the law of war, and international crimes. He has published 10 books, 70 scholarly articles, and hundreds of other publications and presentations, and his research has been used in various national and international courts. Ben has taught law at Oxford, the Hague Academy of International Law and in China, India, Nepal and Cambodia, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. Ben practises as a barrister in international and national courts, has advised various United Nations bodies and foreign governments, has delivered foreign aid projects, and often appears in the media. He has a doctorate in law from Oxford and honours in Arts and Law from Sydney.
Chris Sidoti
Chris Sidoti
Chris Sidoti is a human rights lawyer, activist and teacher. He currently works from Sydney, Australia, as an international human rights consultant, specialising in the international human rights system and in national human rights institutions. He is also chairperson of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights. He was director of the International Service for Human Rights, based in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2003 to 2007, and is now a member of the board of ISHR. He has been Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992). He has also worked in non-government organisations, including for the Human Rights Council of Australia and the Australian Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. In 2007-08 he was the independent chair of the United Kingdom Government's Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Western Sydney, Griffith University (Queensland), University of the Sunshine Coast (Queensland) and the Australian Catholic University and an Affiliate at the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney.
Daniel Webb
Daniel Webb
Daniel Webb is Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre and leads much of HRLC's work on refugee rights and the rights of people in detention. Prior to joining HRLC, Daniel was a senior lawyer with Victoria Legal Aid, specialising in mental health and disability advocacy and spent 12 months as the People's Lawyer in the Republic of Kiribati. His NGO experience includes internships with the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights in Phnom Penh and Transparency International in Port Moresby, PNG. Daniel has also worked as a Heritage Officer with Yamatji Land and Sea Council and Pilbara Native Title Service and is on the Policy Committee of Liberty Victoria. In 2010, he was awarded an LIV President's Award for his outstanding work for human rights and social justice.