Short and long videos from our event with Paris Aristotle, member of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers

Paris Aristotle AM is the Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc (also known as Foundation House), a position he has held since helped found the organisation in 1987. He was recently a member of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers and discussed the Expert Panel’s report in conversation with Michael Gordon, the National Affairs Editor of The Age, at a Castan Centre event last night.

In this 9 minute Q&A video, Mr Aristotle discusses his experience as an expert panel member, why he believes  that Australia has an ethical obligation to prevent deaths at sea, and how he sees the “no advantage” policy working. He also talks about his optimism that regional cooperation will be forthcoming and his disappointment in the media coverage of the expert panel’s report.

This longer piece is the full video of Mr Aristotle’s conversation with Michael Gordon, plus the first question and answer from the floor. Unfortunately our camera stopped working at that point and we missed the remainder of the Q&A session.

Bio: Paris Aristotle AM is the Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc (also known as Foundation House), a position he has held since helped found the organisation in 1987.

For over 25 years Paris has worked to in the refugee resettlement and humanitarian field and has held many senior positions on government advisory bodies. Currently Paris is Chair of the Minster for Immigration and Citizenship’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASD). Paris is also a member of the federal government’s Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council (RRAC), the Residence Determination Reference Group (RDRG) and the Onshore Protection Consultative Group (OPCG).

Paris has extensive experience in the area of refugee resettlement and the provision of services to survivors of torture and trauma. He has been a regular presenter and contributor to UNHCR meetings and publications over many years.

In 2002 Paris was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 was awarded an Australian Centenary Medal; both honours recognising his longstanding work with refugees and asylum seekers, in particular survivors of torture and trauma.

In 2012 Paris was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers alongside Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC (Retired) and Professor Michael L’Estrange AO to advise and provide recommendations to the Government on policy options to deter asylum seekers from risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys to Australia. The panel’s report was handed down on 13 August.

Castan Centre

The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law seeks to promote and protect human rights through the generation and dissemination of public scholarship in international and domestic human rights law. In pursuit of this mission, the Centre brings the work of human rights scholars, practitioners and advocates from a wide range of disciplines together in the Centre’s key activities of research, teaching, public education (lectures, seminars, conferences, speeches, media presentations, etc), applied research, advice work and consultancies.

5 comments

  • What’s going on here? Has the Castan Centre become Mr Aristotle’s PR firm? Michael Gordon’s questioning was rather timid on Wednesday, the retweets were highly selective,yesterday’s blog was an apologia and now this is put up. This doesn’t look like a rigorous, idependent and balanced input into major public debate

    • Dear Michael,

      If you look at all of our “short & long videos” of our speakers, they are all the same. Q & A along with a video of the presentation. Videos have proliferated more recently as we now have our own video camera. They are a resource, particularly for those who weren’t there. This one was put up quickly due to the obvious public interest, evidenced by a full house and trending twitter hashtag on Wednesday. Our hunch is vindicated by the number who have now viewed this video. And I presume each viewer will come to his or her own conclusions of the content of both videos, as they do with our other videos.

      I explained to you yesterday that we always summarise our speakers – check our newsletter. The Conversation wanted such a thing so we provided it.

      You are free to have your own opinion of Michael Gordon’s questioning, and our retweets (or even initial tweets). I am sorry you apparently found both unsatisfactory.

      We put our opinions across in our blogposts, of which there are many on this site on refugee issues & policies, including on the expert panel report of which Mr Aristotle was a co-author.

      • Thanks for you very considered response Sarah (Its Mike by the way, only my Mum calls me Michael). I have had pause for thought and now admit some regret in my finger-pointing at the Castan Centre when my grievance is with Mr Aristotle. I am clearer now on what caused my ‘rush of blood to the head’. It relates to my considerable unease at how Mr Aristotle communicated to us in that room, hearing language and demonstrating behaviour that relied on assumptions of power privledge of and, at one point, gender privilege. As you say, people will make up there own minds from watching the video (though it is a shame a fault means not all questions are included). I also think that as Michael Gordon presented himself as Mr Aristotle’s ‘mate’ he undermined his credibility for the task at hand. While I still believe there was some subtle, even unconscious, choice-making towards a defence of Mr Aristotle, I accept overall that how the event has been presented is consistent with the Castan Centre’s previous activities. The Castan Centre contributes to so much to the public discourse on many crucial national and international issues and preferences many voices that are silent in mainstream debates- long may that work continue. I humbly withdraw my comment of 7 September and wish you well.

        • Nice one Mike. Yes it is a shame the camera ran out. We hadn’t “rewound” from previous uses (I think – I don’t actually do the camera work). We have resolved to buy bigger memory cards!

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