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Shen Narayanasamy: The Fight for Refugee Rights

Shen Narayanasamy at the UNSW Gandhi Oration 2020

Despite taking steps towards becoming a more equal and inclusive society for all, Australia has a problem with human rights. Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated in the world. More than one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner. Over half of Australians living with a disability lack access to support services they need. The proposed Religious Discrimination Bill threatens to undermine inclusive workplaces for LGBTQI+ people.  

Fighting to address these issues are five fearless human rights champions. From the Australian voice to the United Nations for people living with a disability, to leading the #KidsOffNauru campaign which saw every child detained offshore brought to Australia, their resumes are enviable and inspiring portfolios of human rights advocacy.   

The annual Gandhi Lecture is hosted by UNSW Sydney close to India’s Martyrs’ Day, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948.  The event features people making significant contributions to the major human rights issues of our time. Speakers have included journalist Shoma Chaudhury, author Dr Hugh Mackay AO, journalist Peter Greste and Senator Pat Dodson.

When you work in human rights you realise I am not the hero, and they are not the baddies. It’s greyer than that.

Shen Narayanasamy

Shen Narayanasamy

Shen Narayanasamy is GetUp!'s Human Rights Campaign Director. She also founded the No Business in Abuse project, targeting  corporate involvement in offshore detention of asylum seekers, and led #LetThemStay, which prevented the deportation of hundreds of asylum seekers to Nauru. She has previously worked as a human rights lawyer in Asia-Pacific on issues of economic justice and land rights. 


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Photo credit: Prudence Upton

This talk is presented as part of the 2020 Gandhi Oration

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