ASRC Patrons and Ambassadors
The ASRC's tenth anniversary, 2011, was an important milestone at which to strengthen our resolve, build our identity and demonstrate a critical mass of support in Australia for the fair treatment of asylum seekers. The following regarded members of our community have stood up to shine a light on this important cause as honorary Patrons and Ambassadors of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
The role of patron is reserved for pre-eminent figures of the highest order who stand as honorary representatives of the organisation. The ASRC's four patrons are:
The Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser, AC, CH
22nd Prime Minister of Australia
Mr Fraser pioneered Australians for Just Refugee Programs, founded the Justice Project in 2004 and has been tireless in his advocacy for human rights in Australian society.
"I was honoured to be asked to be Patron of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. It accomplishes a great deal of important and necessary work. It attempts to help people in distress, people who have fled tyranny and oppression in their own lands. Such people should be welcomed by Australia warmly and with generosity and compassion."
The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG
Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009)
Awarded the Gruber Justice Prize in 2010, Michael retired from the High Court of Australia in 2009 as Australia’s longest serving judge and has been a longstanding and vocal supporter of asylum seeker rights.
"I honour the clients who teach the lawyers, civil society organisations and citizens the critical lessons concerning the importance of living in a rule of law society which upholds the dignity and rights of everyone. I honour the staff and volunteers who have played such a crucial part in the work of the centre. I honour the supporters who have helped to make it possible."
Appointed to the Order of Australia for her service to women’s welfare and 1997 Humanist of the Year, Eva is a distinguished activist, sociologist and ASRC supporter.
"Congratulations to ASRC for the 10 years of work you have done and are doing for those looking for safety in Australia. The country fails official tests of humanity by demonising those needing our help. So we need you and other organisations to show those in power and fellow citizens what should be done if we want a much more civil society. Otherwise people lose faith in our potential for goodness and hospitality."
Mr Julian Burnside AO QC
Named 'Australian Living National Treasure'
An Officer of the Order of Australia for his service as a human rights advocate, Julian is known for his staunch opposition to mandatory detention. After completing a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws at Monash University, Mr Burnside joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. While specialising in commercial litigation, Mr Burnside has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees.
ASRC Ambassadors have conferred their profile and charisma upon the organisation. They have also demonstrated a deep and considered commitment to our cause and the work of the organisation. We welcome as ambassadors of the ASRC:
Professor Patrick McGorry
2010 Australian of the Year
Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health, Patrick is a world-renowned mental health organisation for young people. In January 2010, Professor McGorry was named as Australian of the Year in recognition of "his extraordinary 27-year contribution to the improvement of the youth mental health sector [that] has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of young people the world over."
Writer, Storyteller, Educator, and Human Rights Advocate
Arnold Zable holds a doctorate from the School of Creative Arts, Melbourne University. His books include Jewels and Ashes, The Fig Tree and three novels, Café Scheherazade, Scraps of Heaven, and Sea of Many Returns. He is the author of numerous stories, columns, essays and features, and is co-writer of the play Kan Yama Kan, in which asylum seekers tell their stories. He was an artist consultant to the recent Asylum Seeker Resource Centre production Not Just My Story.
Writer, Comedian and TV Presenter
"I first became involved in advocacy for asylum seekers, like many people did, during the SIEV X disaster. It was through Actors For Refugees that I first learned of the ASRC. The work that the ASRC does is unique. And formidable. It is not only life-changing, it is life-saving. It's a cliché, but one I believe in wholeheartedly: a society is only as strong as its most vulnerable members, and the way it treats those members is a reflection on its whole."
"I think the question of asylum and refuge is the political and ethical issue of our age. In hindsight our globalised moment will be judged by how we treated the enormous number of stateless and displaced people seeking lives free of political, religious, cultural and, just as importantly, economic oppression. At the turn of the millennium I personally felt gutted by the fanning of xenophobic and racist fears in the media and how my government was incarcerating and demonising asylum seekers, some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. I realised very early that the work the ASRC does is crucial in ensuring support and advocacy for asylum seekers."
The Cat Empire
Nationally Acclaimed Musical Outfit
"The Cat Empire are proud supporters of the incredible work of the ASRC. We are Melbourne locals who believe it is critical to foster the unique rich cultural fabric of our city which has helped shape our music over ten years. We strongly believe that all people have a right to sanctuary, respect and safety. We are dedicated to sharing our own good fortune with the individuals and families who have overcome huge adversity by the time they courageously walk up the steps at the ASRC. Kon and the staff at the ASRC are humble heroes, holistically helping people in great need into new lives in a new community. They deserve the support of the broader community, and we offer ours whole-heartedly and look forward to making a difference as ambassadors for this cause."
During his 25-year career, Michael has worked in print, radio and television in Australia, the USA and Europe, including a scholarship with the Paris-based Journalists in Europe Foundation.
"The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, a group of people coming together to help and support some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people, is an inspiring example of the authentic Australia"
Imogen Bailey is an actress who is outspoken on issues of social justice and human rights. Imogen dives in headfirst and fights hard for what she believes in, and her participation in ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ was no exception. "I am 100% committed to this cause for life. The reason I decided to become an ASRC Ambassador is because I believe there is still an audience that does not know where to go for accurate information about asylum seekers. I feel it would be irresponsible of me if I didn’t do something about this issue."