Refugee issues the focus of new agreement between the University and UNHCR

October 14 / 147

Ms Janet Lim, UNHCR, and Professor Simon Evans, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), at the signing of the MoU.
Ms Janet Lim, UNHCR, and Professor Simon Evans, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), at the signing of the MoU.

Refugee policy issues will be the focus of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The MoU was the brainchild of Ms Erika Feller, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in the Melbourne School of Government. She said the MoU puts in place a framework for closer cooperation between UNHCR and the University.

“Refugee and asylum issues have a high profile in this country, with the public debate marked, however, by a great deal of misinformation,” she said.

“Collaboration between the University and UNHCR can only help the debate.

“While the MoU is aspirational rather than binding, it will hopefully open up avenues for collaboration around research, promotional activities and staff interaction, as well as facilitating internship opportunities for students.”

Ms Feller was previously the Assistant High Commissioner for UNHCR. She raised the prospect of an MoU with UNHCR staff before retiring from this position in 2013 and continued to pursue it when she joined the University in July.

“The support of both the Dean of the Law Faculty, Professor Carolyn Evans, and the Head of the School of Government, Professor Helen Sullivan, ensured that the MoU would happen,” Ms Feller said.

The MoU was signed by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor Simon Evans, and the Assistant High Commissioner – Operations at the UNHCR, Ms Janet Lim.

Professor Evans welcomed the MoU and the cooperation it would bring.

“The MoU opens up a direct line of communication between the leading Australian University and the leading international refugee organisation,” he said.

He said the MoU will enhance the Melbourne Refugee Studies Program which the University established earlier this year.

“This University-wide, interdisciplinary research, teaching and engagement initiative contributes to design and evaluation of asylum seeker and refugee policies and programs in Australia and internationally. The Program has strong support from across the University and looks forward to exploring deeper collaboration with UNHCR through the MoU,” he said.

“There are many other faculties, schools and scholars keen to use today’s agreement to build stronger relationships with UNHCR and deepen understanding of asylum seeker and refugee issues through evidence based scholarship, contributions to policy debates and opportunities for our students."

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