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Meet our Speakers

The 2023 Conference theme, Holding Hope in an Uncertain World, acknowledges both the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the hope and desire for safety and a better future that sustains them on their recovery journey. 

Lorraine Finlay 

Human Rights Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.  

Lorraine Finlay is the Human Rights Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, commencing in this position in November 2021. In this role Lorraine has particular responsibility for protecting and promoting fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, religion, movement and association. She also leads the work of the Commission in areas including business & human rights, modern slavery, asylum seekers and refugees, and technology & human rights.

Prior to joining the Commission, Lorraine has worked as a lawyer and academic specializing in human rights and public law. Her past roles have included working as the Senior Human Trafficking Specialist with the Australian Mission to ASEAN, an academic at Murdoch University, and a State Prosecutor with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (WA). Lorraine holds a dual Masters in Law from New York University and the National University of Singapore, where she studied as a Singapura Scholar. She has also been actively involved in a variety of community organisations, including past Board roles with the Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Service and National Council of Women (WA).

Professor Derrick Silove

Clinical psychiatrist and Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales, and holds honorary appointments at Cambridge, Copenhagen and Melbourne Universities.

Derrick was actively involved in the early development of torture and trauma services for refugees in Australia, serving as the first psychiatrist and second Chair of the Management Board of STARTTS. He has been a pioneer in advancing research in the field for nearly four decades, collaborating with national and international teams and publishing highly cited articles in epidemiology, clinical research, and service-related areas. He has devoted much of his career to teaching, training, supervision and support for all disciplines working in the refugee mental health and psychosocial field and has made major contributions to training and services for refugees and asylum seekers across our region. His ADAPT model provides a reference point for programs in the field, outlining the major psychosocial domains that are disrupted by the trauma of forced migration and the adaptive strategies that need to be supported to restore psychosocial wellbeing. He has worked closely with WHO, UNHCR and other international agencies to advance policy and services in the refugee and post-conflict mental health field. The early research of his team into the impact of post-migration stressors amongst asylum seekers remains a reference source for advocates and service providers in this important area of ongoing work.

Pau Perez-Sales

Medical Doctor and Psychiatrist – Universidas Complutense de Madrid’s Post-oral Degree in Mental Health in Political Violence and Catastrophe

Pau Pérez-Sales is a Medical Doctor and Psychiatrist at the La Paz Hospital, and Director of the SiR Network for Documentation and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims in Madrid. He has worked with human rights and community organizations in Latin America since the 1980’s. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Torture Journal and is the author of 14 books and 70 academic papers on issues related to trauma, forced disappearance, exhumations, trauma and cultural psychiatry including Psychological Torture: Definition, Evaluation and Measurement (Routledge, 2017). He is a former Chair of the World Psychiatric Association's Section on Psychological Consequences of Persecution and Torture and is a forensic expert in the documentation of severe human rights violations.

Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo

Narrative therapist and psychosocial specialist

Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo is an internationally-renowned narrative therapist and psychosocial specialist, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Holding a degree in Psychology from the University of Zimbabwe, and a Master’s Degree in Narrative Therapy & Community Work from the University of Melbourne, Ncazelo has spent most of her career focusing on developing culturally appropriate mental health interventions. Her inspirational work includes the evolution of a leading psychotherapeutic approach known as Tree of Life, which is based on Narrative Therapy principles and was co-developed by Ncazelo and David Denborough (Dulwich Centre, Adelaide) in 2006. Using the tree as a metaphor, it empowers people with mental health needs to reconnect with their roots, skills, hopes, dreams, and relationships. It ensures that children and others who have experienced significant trauma are emotionally safe when they relate stories about their lives. Tree of Life is used in over 30 countries around the world including Australia. In 2015 Ncazelo established PHOLA, an organization dedicated to providing culturally-sensitive therapies to those affected by trauma, violence, and abuse – especially children, youth, women, and their families, and communities, assisting those affected to claim their rights and become agents of social change, within their own lives, their families, and their communities. Ncazelo also runs an international training program in which she trains mental health and psychosocial practitioners and undergraduate and postgraduate university students around the world. She has worked with several universities including:University College of London (UK), University of Melbourne (Australia), WITS University (South Africa), University of Calgary (Canada) and Royal Holloway University of London (UK).

Professor David Forbes

Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health Ltd

Professor David Forbes is the Director of Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry, the University of Melbourne.

Professor Forbes is a clinical psychologist and an international expert in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems in trauma survivors, with a speciality in military, veteran, emergency, and disaster mental health.

Having published over 220 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, David sits on the editorial boards of leading international journals. He Chairs the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) prevention and treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) clinical guidelines committee and led the development of the inaugural Australian PTSD Guidelines approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2007 and revised in 2013 and 2020.

He is a member of many expert advisory committees for governments and other organisations, including the NATO mental health panel and co-chairs the Five-Eyes Military and Veteran Mental Health Research and Innovation Collaborative.

Professor Forbes has a strong track record in leading initiatives to improve outcomes for people affected by trauma through the translation of research into effective policy and practice and is a passionate advocate for the use of evidence-based responses following trauma, in order to reduce the mental health effects on survivors, their families and communities.

Jana D. Javakhishvili

Professor of Psychology, Director – Institution of Addiction Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia

Jana D. Javakhishvili is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Institute of Addiction Studies at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. Her research interests focus on exploring mental health and psychosocial well-being of war- and political oppression-affected populations. She is heavily engaged in the projects of the Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry focused at improving human rights-based mental health care in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and other war- and political oppressions-affected countries.

She is the Past President of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Currently, she is on the board of directors of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and leads the Global Crisis – Armed Conflict Thematic Group of the Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress. She also is a Trustee of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma Europe and serves on the editorial board of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

Professor Jay Marlowe

Professor of Social Work and Co-director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies, University of Auckland

Jay Marlowe is Professor of Social Work and co-director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies at the University of Auckland. In 2019 he became a Rutherford Discovery Fellow to pursue a 5-year research programme related to refugee settlement trajectories. As a social worker and former visiting fellow with the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, he has worked with refugee communities as a practitioner and researcher, publishing more than 80 peer-reviewed papers.

Lela Tsiskarishvili

Executive Director of the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT) and
President of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)

Lela Tsiskarishvili is the Executive Director of the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT) and the President of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). She is also the President of the Georgian Society for Psychotrauma and a board member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Lela is a lecturer at Ilia State University’s Master's Program on Mental Health, where she teaches Introduction to Psychotraumatology and Disaster Mental Health. Lela has extensive experience in working with traumatized individuals and communities and facilitating the development of services for affected populations. Lela works domestically and internationally with civil society organisations on organisational development, staff care, prevention of professional burnout, stress management and integrated security; as well as documentation of torture according to the Istanbul Protocol.

Hafsar Tameesuddin

Chairperson, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network; Campaigner for Refugee Women and Girls

Hafsar is a former Rohingya refugee from Myanmar. She is the first woman of refugee background to serve as the Chair of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network [APRRN] as well as a Steering Committee Member of the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees [APNOR], a member of the Global Refugee-Led Network [GRN], the New Zealand Country Coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition [FRC], a member of the UNHCR Advisory Group, an interim Working Group member of the Global Statelessness Movement and a Director on the Board of Forces of Renewal Southeast Asia. She works as a community development navigator and social worker at Change Makers Resettlement Forum, a grassroots ngo in the greater Wellington region of New Zealand. Hafsar has been involved in different advocacy and activism spaces on statelessness, refugee rights, asylum seekers, detention of migrants and refugees, and prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) for over a decade.

Hafsar previously worked for 8 years with refugee communities on the prevention and response to SGBV [Sexual Gender-Based Violence] and child marriage in Malaysia. She has extensive knowledge of the range of SGBV issues faced by refugee women, as well as of their experiences prior to arrival, and is a passionate advocate for improved prevention and response measures to SGBV. Since her resettlement in New Zealand in early 2019, she has accepted numerous invitations to present at national and international conferences on issues of gender, refugees and statelessness. She was selected to represent the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, Women, Gender and Diversity working group at the UNHCR/NGO Consultations and the Gender Audit team for the Global Refugee Forum. She is committed to advocacy on all issues affecting refugee women and girls in all their diversities including SGBV, Statelessness and the particular risks faced by the LGBTIQ refugee communities.

Zaki Haidari

Refugee Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International

Zaki Haidari is a 2020 Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Hero, an Ambassador for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), a leading refugee legal centre, and works at Amnesty International Australia as a Refugee Rights Campaigner. Zaki is himself a refugee. He fled Afghanistan after being targeted to be killed by Taliban. He survived a terrifying boat journey and arrived in Australia seeking protection in 2012. Since then, despite social, legal and financial obstacles, he has thrived. First, he learnt English, then he transformed into a human rights advocate, courageously sharing his experience with schools and the wider community, speaking out about the cruel regime of permanent temporariness faced by people like him who came by boat seeking safety.

Jaya  Luintel

Co-founder & President, The Story Kitchen, Nepal

Since 2015, Jaya Luintel has been working with the women survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) of Nepal's 10 years of armed conflict and supporting them in the healing and truth-seeking process. She is passionate about creating space for women, girls, and people from marginalized and minority communities whose voices are preferably unheard and deliberately silenced. For this, she has co-founded an organization The Story Kitchen where she works with different communities to make them feel powerful through their own stories. Jaya and her team at The Story Kitchen use reflective-storytelling methods which are guided by internationally recognized Narrative Therapy theory and practice. Jaya's last eight years of continuous work with women survivors of armed conflict-related SGBV in Nepal has equipped women survivors to get organized and demand justice in a collective way. In the capacity of a gender expert, Jaya supported the Ministry of Home Affairs in Nepal to draft the second phase of the National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution on 1325 & 1820.

Jaya was named as one of the top 100 influential women in the world by the BBC in 2014. Later in 2016, she was awarded with the Global Change Leaders Fellow by Coady International Institute-Canada.

For two years (2020 to 2022), Jaya co-facilitated and taught the "Women's Leadership in Community Development Online Course" run by Coady International Institute. She is also a mentor for the Nobel Women's Initiative's Sister-to-Sister program. Jaya has completed a Master's Degree in Gender Studies from Tribhuvan University in Nepal and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies from the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia.

Professor Nicholas Procter

Director, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research and Education Group,
Clinical and Health Sciences, University of South Australia

Professor Nicholas Procter is the Director, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research and Education Group, Clinical and Health Sciences, University of South Australia. Professor Procter has longstanding research and education interests in trauma informed practice and suicide prevention for people of migrant and refugee backgrounds, including people with insecure visa status. He was the Chair of the Health Sub-Committee of the Joint Advisory Committee for Nauru Regional Processing Arrangements; a member of the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention; and an independent advisor to a Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Own Motion Investigation into Suicide and Self-Harm in the Immigration Detention Network. He has co-designed with government and community groups trauma-informed resources with people of refugee backgrounds, as well as for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, after bushfires, and in the context of forensic mental health and quality and safety in healthcare. Professor Procter is Australia’s National Representative to the International Association for Suicide Prevention’s Council for National Representatives.

Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny

Associate Professor, School of Law, Murdoch University

Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny is based at the School of Law, Murdoch University, and is a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate at the University of South Australia. Associate Professor Kenny teaches and researches in the area of human rights, refugee, and immigration law. She is a legal practitioner and works closely with refugee non-government organisations and refugee communities. Her research interests lie in the intersection of refugee status determination and issues related to mental health. She was the Chair of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia between 2009–12; Chair of the Legal Sub Committee of the Joint Advisory Committee for Nauru Regional Processing Arrangements; and a member of the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention between 2012–16.

Paris Aristotle

Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc (VFST)

Paris Aristotle AO is the founding CEO of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc., also known as Foundation House. Paris has 30 years’ experience in the field of supporting refugees and asylum seekers, in particular the provision of services to survivors of torture and trauma. In 2002 Paris was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and in 2003 he was awarded an Australian Centenary Medal. In 2012 he was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. In 2017 Paris was named the Victorian Australian of the Year and made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from RMIT University in the field of Social Science. Paris has chaired several federal government councils and is currently Chair of the Refugee and Migrant Services Advisory Council (RaMSAC). He is also an executive member of the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma FASSTT). In 2021, Paris was tasked by the Prime Minister to Co-Chair the Advisory Panel on Australia’s Resettlement of Afghan Nationals.

Jorge Aroche

Chief Executive Officer, NSW Service for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)

Jorge Aroche is a clinical psychologist and has been the CEO of the NSW Service for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) since 1997. He has led the organisation through some of the most challenging times for refugee services in Australia, helping STARTTS grow from a dozen staff to more than 200, assisting over 80,000 clients, and becoming a world leader in this field in the process. He has presented and published widely, nationally and internationally, and has held numerous honorary positions including Secretary General of the International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR), and President of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) from 2016 until 2020. He is an executive member of the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT).