Who Are We?

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights Inc (ALHR) was established in 1993, and incorporated as an association in NSW in 1998 (ABN 76 329 114 323).

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights is an association of legal professionals active in practising and promoting awareness of international human rights standards in Australia.

ALHR has a national membership of Australian lawyers, barristers, judicial officers, legal academics and law students, with active National, State and Territory committees and national and specialist thematic committees.

ALHR seeks to utilise its extensive experience and expertise in the principles and practice of international law and human rights law in Australia in order to:

  • Promote and support lawyers practice of human rights law in Australia.
  • Promote Federal and State laws across Australia that comply with the principles of international human rights law.
  • Engage with the United Nations in relation to Australian human rights violations.
  • Engage internationally to promote human rights and the rule of law.

Through the provision of training, education, publications, CLE courses, conferences, seminars and mentoring, ALHR assists members to continue to develop their knowledge of human rights law and incorporate human rights principles into their areas of legal practice in Australia.

The Committee

Benedict Coyne - President

MSt IHRL (Dist.)(Oxon), LLB (Hons I)(SCU), GDLP (ANU), BA (Hist.)(Murdoch), Dip. Counselling (Sophia College)

Benedict is a human rights lawyer and advocate based at a boutique firm in Brisbane. He runs a human rights advocacy and litigation practice with a wide array of public interest cases. Benedict has been an ALHR member since 2008 and actively involved since 2012 and he absolutely loves it!

In 2016, Benedict graduated with Distinction (highest award) from a Master of Studies (MSt) in International Human Rights Law (IHRL) at the University of Oxford. Benedict graduated from Southern Cross University in 2010 with first class honours, a University Medal for outstanding academic achievement and various other awards.

In 2014, Benedict was awarded the national Emerging Lawyer of the Year Award by the Australian Lawyer’s Alliance and Amnesty International. In the same year, he was awarded two 2014 Southern Cross University Young Alumnus of the Year Awards. In 2013, Benedict initiated and was part of the Baby Ferouz legal team and was awarded the 2015 Australian Lawyers Alliance (Qld) Civil Justice Award.

Benedict is frequently published on and invited to speak at various Universities and public events on topical issues in human rights law. In December 2014, Benedict initiated national ALHR Human Rights Act subcommittee and over the past 24 months he has been a central part of spearheading the exciting successful campaign for a Queensland Human Rights Act.

Benedict also holds the following extracurricular appointments:

• Member of the Policy Advisory Council of the Grata Fund for Public Interest Litigation;
• Member of the Digital Rights Watch Advisory Council;
• Board Member of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA);
• Regional Correspondent (Asia-Pacific) of the Oxford University Human Rights Hub blog.

Benedict is a founder of the international business and human rights consulting group “Synceritas” with a number of his Oxford colleagues and he is an award winning slam poet and passionate historian.


Kerry Weste - Vice President

Kerry was admitted as a solicitor and barrister in South Australia in 1998 and has been a member of the ALHR National Committee since 2014. She has practiced in London and Sydney as a criminal defence solicitor and as a Senior Legal Officer for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and has 18 years experience as a litigator and advocate. Kerry has a long held interest in Children's rights and juvenile justice. She is a registered contributor with the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) and was a recipient of the The Children's Interests Bureau Prize at Flinders University.


Nathan Kennedy - Secretary

Nathan Kennedy
Nathan was admitted as a solicitor in 2000. He holds an LLM (Human Rights & Social Justice) during which he undertook research into anti-terrorism laws and made a submission to the Human Rights Consultation in 2009. He also has an interest in child rights and refugees. He undertook an internship with the Australian Red Cross producing a research paper on the guardianship and rights of unaccompanied minors in immigration. He has appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in October 2011. Nathan also volunteers at the Marrickville Legal Centre and the Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS). He was President of ALHR from 2014-2016. He is currently Director of Pro Bono and Community at a national mid-tier firm.


Katherine Hinton - Treasurer

Katherine is a Chartered Accountant with over 20 years Finance experience who has a strong interest in human rights and social justice. Katherine is currently the Finance Manager at SNAICC - National Voice for our Children which represent the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.


Robin Banks - Human Rights Act Co-Chair

Robin has recently completed six and a half years as Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, having been appointed in July 2010. During that time, Robin was active in promoting human rights protection in Tasmania and in ensuring community awareness of and respect for equality rights under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998.

Robin came to that post from Sydney where for the previous 6 years she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre where she led the centre’s work in human rights, public interest law, social justice and inclusion, at both the level of individual rights protection and of systemic reform. A key focus of the Centre’s work has been accountability and transparency of government.

Robin has worked for more than 30 years in the area of rights advocacy and been a practicing lawyer since 2000 with experience in both the private and public sector including as an employment and discrimination litigation lawyer, a legal researcher at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, as an advocate for people with disability in Alice Springs, and as the co-ordinator of the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre. Robin held the voluntary position of national Secretary of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights for several years.


Susan Peukert - Disability Rights Co-Chair

Susan Peukert is a PhD Candidate in the School of Law at the University of Adelaide. Her research interest is mental health law and human rights. Sue’s research focus is on the reconceptualisation of the threshold test for coercive mental health treatment in light of Australia’s obligations under Article 12 of the UNCRPD. Sue is concerned about the discriminatory nature of mental health legislation, its stigmatising effects and its non-compliance with human rights standards. Sue has lived experience with mental illness and her interest in mental health law arose from her experiences of the mental health system. Sue is passionate about disability rights and has been a member of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights’ Subcommittee for Disability Rights since 2015.


Natalie Wade - Disability Rights Co-Chair and Ordinary Member (Governance)

Natalie Wade is a lawyer in Adelaide. Natalie has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor Commerce from the University of Adelaide and a Master of Laws (Legal Practice) from the Australian National University. Natalie has comprehensive experience in examining and addressing human rights violations of persons with disabilities including as an Advisory Member to the Everywoman Everywhere campaign and consulting with government and non-government organisations on ways to identify and improve the inclusion of people with disabilities in all facets of the community including employment and access to justice. Natalie has published academic work in the Alternative Law Journal and Precedent on the rights of witnesses with communication disabilities to access justice in South Australian and Commonwealth courts. In addition to her professional experience, Natalie has a physical disability which brings a personal understanding to the human rights issues facing people with disabilities.


Tamsin Clarke - Freedoms Chair and Ordinary Member (Governance)

Tamsin Clarke
Dr Tamsin Clarke was admitted as a solicitor in 1980. She worked for 25 years in major law firms, specialising in funds management, privacy, corporate and anti-money laundering compliance, before establishing her own legal practice.
Her degrees are from University of Tasmania (LLB Hons), University of Toronto (LLM) and University of NSW (PhD) and her doctorate thesis concerned racial vilification and free speech issues under Australian legislation. It was her interest in the '18C' debate which led to her first work with ALHR and she became a committee member in June 2014. The "Freedoms" subcommittee, having a wide remit, has been involved in a range of ALHR submissions.
Tamsin provides pro bono advice to a number of non-profit organisations.


Madeleine Bridgett - Business and Human Rights Co-Chair

Madeleine Bridgett is a barrister in Sydney, Australia, specialising in human rights and international law. She has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales, and in 2011 was awarded the Hardwicke Scholarship and the Peter Duffy Human Rights Scholarship from The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn. She spent a year working in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, West Africa, for the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC), where she fearlessly advocated for the rights of children and vulnerable adults whilst actively promoting the rule of law. Madeleine was part of the legal team who successfully prosecuted a number of cases involving child labour and child abuse. Following this Madeleine worked at the European Court of Human Rights where she was responsible for preparing draft reports and decisions on cases brought before the Court regarding admissibility.

Madeleine holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court School of Law) (UK), Postgraduate Diploma in Law (UK)(Distinction), Master of Social Work (UNSW, Australia) and Bachelor of Social Work (UNSW, Australia). She was awarded the Head of School Prize, University of Brighton, UK in 2008 and the Oxford University Press Prize, University of Brighton, in 2009. Madeleine has published work in both national and international journals and has presented at a number of conferences globally. In 2010 she was selected by The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn to debate at the English Speaking Union National Competition and the Cambridge IV International Debating Competition.


Lauren Zanetti - Business and Human Rights Co-Chair

Lauren works as a lawyer in Sydney. Lauren has a Bachelor of Laws with an International Law Specialisation and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science, from the University of Queensland. She is currently a Master of Human Rights Law candidate at Melbourne University.

Previously Lauren worked as Associate to the Honourable Justice Collier of the Federal Court of Australia. Her legal career has also taken her to Phnom Penh where she interned in the Supreme Court in the United Nations Khmer Rouge War Crimes Tribunal and to Tokyo where she worked as a Legal Editor in Japan’s largest law firm, Nishimura & Asahi.

She also has a background in policy and in government oversight roles. She worked for four years at a Senior Investigator on the Major Investigations Team at the Queensland Ombudsman. In this role she drafted multiple reports for the Ombudsman tabled in Queensland Parliament advocating for changes to government practice.


Amy Maguire - Indigenous Rights Co-Chair

Amy Maguire
Dr Amy Maguire is a Senior Lecturer in international law and an active media commentator on human rights issues. She is also the Indigenous Student Liaison for Newcastle Law School. Her fields of research are public international law and human rights, with particular focus on self-determination, Indigenous rights, climate change, refugees and asylum seekers, and the death penalty. Amy has research collaborations in relation to the rights of refugees, human rights and human displacement, legal regulation of climate change mitigation strategies, Indigenisation of curriculum, and blended/active teaching and learning. In 2015, Amy’s submissions and evidence before the federal parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty influenced the recommendations of the inquiry Committee (A World Without the Death Penalty, 2015). In 2016, Amy was selected as a finalist for the Lawyer’s Weekly Women in Law Awards - Academic of the Year Award.


David Woodrofe - Indigenous Rights Co-Chair

David Woodroffe is the Principal Legal Officer of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency with 16 years criminal law expertise for Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. He is a descendant of the Stolen Generation for Retta Dixon Home and Kahlin Compound. He is a respected advocate and manager of legal services to remote regions of the Northern Territory and in 2013 was awarded the National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year. He is the President of Winkuku Rrunbangi body for Indigenous Lawyers of the Northern Territory, member of the Legal Practitioners Admission Board of the Northern Territory. His main interest is the bringing about of a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture in the legal profession and improving the standards of advocacy involving Aboriginal witnesses and defendants. David demonstrates how knowledge of Aboriginal culture and legal expertise go hand in hand.


Kathryn Cramp - LGBTI Rights Co-Chair and Ordinary Member (Governance)

Kathryn Cramp
Kathryn Cramp is a Queensland Solicitor who has worked as an adviser in the Senate, for the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service, as the President of the University of Queensland Union, as the Vice President of Gender and Sexuality for the University of Queensland Union, and in migration law.

She was involved in Senate Inquiries into payment for the turn back of asylum seeker boats, alcohol-fuelled violence and revenge pornography. She also conducted research for the Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining.

She has volunteered as the Queensland Women’s Coordinator for Out For Australia and hosted their annual Women’s Careers Panel and their first Trans Careers Panel. She has also volunteered for The Asylum and Refugee Law Project with the TC Beirne School of Law, the LGBTI Legal Service in Queensland, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, and Caxton Legal Service.


Nicholas Stewart - LGBTI Rights Co-Chair and Ordinary Member (Governance)

Nicholas Stewart is a partner at Dowson Turco Lawyers, a boutique and prominent LGBTI law firm in Sydney. He was formerly an intellectual property lawyer at Minter Ellison and Corporate Counsel at Singtel Optus. Nicholas has acted as an instructing lawyer and as an advocate in the Australian Crime Commission, the Local Court of NSW, the Children’s Court of NSW, the District Court of NSW and the Federal Court of Australia.

Nicholas takes carriage of complex cases involving human rights matters and currently he is acting for a group of NSW Police officers who claim homosexual discrimination, bullying and vilification while employees of the NSW Police Force. Nicholas is also the lawyer for Alan Rosendale, a gay bashing victim of the 1980s who believes his assaulters were part of an organised group of law enforcement members who engaged in systematic gay bashings during that time.

Nicholas is a Director of Rainbow Families NSW, Vice President of the New Theatre Newtown, on the LGBTI sub-committee of Unharm Australia, and a pro bono lawyer at the NSW Inner City Legal Centre. Between 2006 and 2012 Nicholas was the President of Caretakers Cottage, Bondi, and during part of this time he also worked as a policy and projects officer in the NSW Government.

In 2009 Nicholas was awarded the Elizabeth Hastings Memorial Human Rights Award and the UTS:LAW Alumni Association Prize at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Nicholas chairs the ALHR LGBTI sub-committee with Kathryn Cramp. Together Nicholas and Kathryn champion LGBTI human rights and law reform.


Scott Cosgriff - Refugee Rights Co-Chair

Scott is a Senior Solicitor at the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, a specialist refugee legal centre in Sydney. In addition to advising and representing asylum seekers in relation to refugee law and immigration matters, Scott coordinates RACS’ work on law reform and legal strategy.

He has previously worked as a Refugee Resettlement Expert with UNHCR in Latin America and as a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons. Scott holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne. In 2017 he completed a Masters of Laws at the London School of Economics, focusing on public international law.


Khanh Hoang - Refugee Rights Co-Chair and Ordinary Member (Governance)

Khanh is an Associate Lecturer in the Migration Law Program at the Australian National University (ANU), where he was awarded LLB (Hons)/BEc and a GDLP with merit degrees. Khanh has previously worked as a Legal Officer at the AAT (Migration and Refugee Division) and the Australian Law Reform Commission. He is also admitted as a solicitor to the Supreme Court of NSW. He is currently undertaking PhD studies at the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales.


Anna Kerr - Women and Girls' Rights Co-Chair

Anna Kerr is the founder and Principal Solicitor of the Feminist Legal Clinic which works to advance feminism by supporting feminist groups and organisations and the women who access their services. Her clients are diverse and include the Coalition for Women’s Refuges, the Women’s Family Law Court Support Service and The Women’s Library. She has a long history in the community legal sector, including undertaking domestic violence advocacy work and related matters.


Rita Shackel - Women and Girls' Rights Co-Chair

Rita Shackel is an Associate Professor of Law at The University of Sydney Law School. Her areas of interest include international criminal justice, gender justice, human rights and ethics. She has a particular interest in sexual and gender based violence and the abuse of women and children.

Rita’s academic awards include the Jones Memorial University Medal for most outstanding academic and professional record. Rita has worked as a lawyer, legal policy officer and academic in a range of settings including the NSW Cabinet Office, The NSW Office of Youth Affairs and The Australian Law Reform Commission. She has worked as a consultant and participated on numerous government, community, institutional and professional committees and working groups, and has delivered training to a range of professionals and CLE programs to legal practitioners, prosecutors and judicial officers in Australia and overseas. Rita’s PhD examined the use of expert evidence in child sexual assault cases. Rita has worked and published widely in the field of criminal justice with particular focus on the sexual victimisation of women and children. She has a special interest in the dynamics of sexual assault and how victims and survivors disclose sexual violence and abuse. Rita is committed to public interest and community work.

She is also currently Chair of the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.


Jarrah Ekstein - Ordinary Member (Governance)

Jarrah Ekstein
Jarrah Ekstein works in the class actions team at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and has a particular interest in access to justice. She volunteers at Caxton Legal Centre when she is in Brisbane and Inner City Legal Centre when she is in Sydney, and is a former convenor of ALHR NSW (2013 - 2017).

Her interest in human rights began in her pre-law life working in the community services sector with newly-arrived refugees, realising the importance of human rights law in protecting vulnerable people and holding governments accountable to international standards.

Sangeeta Sharmin - ACT Convenor

Sangeeta is currently a practising solicitor in the ACT. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Science (Psychology) double degree from the Australian National University and is currently studying her Masters in Law (International Law). She has had her work published in The Journal of Legal Pluralism and is currently working on her Masters thesis project. She has volunteered in a number of organisations focusing on the rights of refugees, migrants, women, Indigenous Australians and prisoners. After completing two internships overseas, at the Legal Resources Centre in Cape Town and the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs in New York, Sangeeta commenced working at Ken Cush & Associates, a civil litigation firm in Canberra, as a Senior Associate. Sangeeta also volunteers at the ACT Law Society's Legal Advice Bureau.


Sera Mirzabegian - NSW Convenor

John Birrell - NT Convenor

John is a Senior Solicitor in the Civil Section of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. He was admitted as a solicitor in 2012 and is a graduate of the Australian National University and Columbia Law School.
John began his legal career in private practice at Minister Ellison Lawyers and volunteering with the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service in Sydney. While living in the United States, John completed a Summer Fellowship with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Petoskey, Michigan, and an internship with the Tribal Justice team at the Centre for Court Innovation in New York. Prior to moving to Darwin in 2016, John worked in the Office of the Solicitor Assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


Clare McKenzie - NT Convenor

Rachana Rajan - NT Convenor

Rachana Rajan
Rachana holds a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Laws from Monash University and was admitted to practice in February 2014. Prior to working in legal practice, Rachana worked in the Victorian Departments of Justice and Premier & Cabinet. In 2015, Rachana joined the Gippsland Community Legal Service in Victoria as an outreach-focused solicitor. Rachana now works as a civil solicitor for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in Katherine, NT.


Nirupama Sivakumar - QLD Convenor

Nirupama Sivakumar
Nirupama is in her final year of studying a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International Business at Griffith University, studying various areas of International Human Rights Law and Family Law and has undertaken the Refugee Law and Policy Clinic as well as the Griffith University Innocence Project Clinic. She is currently a volunteer at the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, the Vice President of Amnesty International Griffith and has been an active executive member of Griffith University Law Society in past years.


Esther Pearson - SA Convenor

Esther Pearson
Esther has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Adelaide. In 2015, she completed an associateship with the Honourable Justice Besanko at the Federal Court of Australia and is currently studying towards her Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice while working as a legal research assistant. She has volunteered and interned with various human rights organisations in Australia and overseas, including the Australia Human Rights Commission and JusticeNet SA, and has a particular interest in the rights of asylum seekers and racial discrimination.


Nicole Sommer - TAS Convenor

Hector Sharp - Vic Convenor

Hector Sharp
Hector Sharp is a lawyer in Melbourne. He holds a JD and BA from the University of Melbourne. He comes to ALHR with hands on experience as a freelance journalist and as a legal intern with the United Nations.


Megan Healy - WA Convenor

Megan Healy works for Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, a Native Title Representative Body, where she practises native title law. Megan graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts in 2014.
Megan has volunteered with organisations within the community legal and human rights sector including the Environmental Defender’s Office WA, Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service and Australian Red Cross. She is particularly interested in Indigenous rights and refugee rights.


Verity Long-Droppert - WA Convenor

Verity works as a solicitor at Jackson McDonald in Perth. She obtained a LLB/BA(Hons) from the University of Western Australia, graduating in 2014. Since starting as a law graduate in March 2015, Verity has been actively involved in advocating for LGBTI rights in her firm and the broader community. Along with LGBTI rights, Verity is passionate about gender equality and Indigenous rights (particularly Indigenous deaths in custody).
Prior to her professional career, Verity was a member of the Australian Softball Team, an experience which helped her develop a global perspective on human rights issues and an interest in how to engage Australia’s sporting heroes as advocates for human rights.


Vacant - Fundraising Chair