Concerns raised over Senate diaspora inquiry, by Tony Zhang, 11 November 2020, Lawyers Weekly
Community bodies and advocates have raised concerns over questions asked of three witnesses who appeared before the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee at a hearing concerning “issues facing diaspora communities in Australia”.
Last week, the Senate committee examining issues facing diaspora communities in Australia heard from Yun Jiang, Osmond Chiu and Wesa Chau, who told the inquiry many Chinese Australians feel intimidated in speaking out on issues concerning their community and their country.
Following their opening statements, Hansard records that the following question was put to the three witnesses with Chinese/East Asian-sounding names by a member of the committee: “(c)an I ask each of the three witnesses to very briefly tell me whether they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship? It’s not a difficult question”.
The AALA stated it is not apparent that the same, or similar, question was put to any other witness appearing before the committee.
Molina Asthana, national vice-president of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association said the AALA supports the right of all Australians (including their elected representatives) to free speech perhaps more so in Parliament or in parliamentary committees.
“However, we strongly advocate that all members of the Australian community should be accorded with the core Australian values of natural justice, fairness, equality and a ‘fair go’; and that persons of Asian ancestry (or any other ancestry) are not subjected to processes and inquiries inconsistent with those values in Australian public life and before any governmental and representative bodies,” the AALA stated.
Q&A covered the issue. Here's a facebook link to the question put by Osmond Chiu and the response by Jan Fran.
AALA joins the Law Council of Australia President Pauline Wright, in congratulating Daye Gang, barrister and member of the Victorian Bar for winning the prestigious “2020 Annual IBA Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year” award, Law Council President, Pauline Wright, response to Korean-Australian named as IBA Annual Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year.
Ms Wright states "Ms Gang, who is the first Australian to win the award, has been recognised for her substantial pro bono contributions and her outstanding work on North Korea, which includes advising the United Nations, the European Union, and the US Senate. Daye is an advocate for human rights in North Korea with the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, one of the oldest North Korean human rights organisations in the world. Part of her advocacy work has included being a key participant at briefings of members of United Nations agencies and representatives of the United States Congress. She is also contributing to the pool of English-language resources for the future of the Korean peninsula, namely by translating North Korean laws into English. Having conducted world-first research on North Korea’s government, society and economy for public accountability reporting and human rights reporting submissions to the United Nations, Daye is continuing the work of investigating international crimes started by the Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, all within only a few years of graduating from her LLB, during which, she studied for and passed the Victorian Bar Entrance Exam. An outstanding young woman, Daye is currently undertaking a PhD with the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University on the topic of restorative justice for sexual and family violence. I am very proud to see that the skills and talent of this Korean Australian female lawyer have been recognised by such an illustrious international forum. The award, created in partnership with the IBA and LexisNexis, is presented annually to a young lawyer who has shown not only excellence in their work and achievements in their career to date, but also a commitment to professional and ethical standards as well as a commitment to the larger community. I believe that we can expect to see a lot more of Daye Gang in the years ahead.
You can hear Daye Gang’s acceptance speech here".
To read official IBA notice
To read Vicbar and Svenson Barristers congratulations
The Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) is dedicated to celebrating and advancing diversity in the Australian legal profession, and for expanding professional and cultural opportunities for all Asian Australian and all Australian legal practitioners in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region.
The AALA expresses its concern over a question that was asked of three witnesses who appeared before the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee on 14 October 2020 at a hearing concerning “Issues facing diaspora communities in Australia”.
Hansard records that the following question was put to the three witnesses with Chinese/East Asian sounding names by a member of the committee:
“(c)an I ask each of the three witnesses to very briefly tell me whether they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship? It's not a difficult question”.
The reference to the Hansard record can be found here.
It is not apparent that the same, or similar, question was put to any other witness appearing before the Committee.
Each of the three witnesses in responding to the question shared their opinion on how they felt about being questioned in that manner (which can be found here).
AALA supports the right of all Australians (including their elected representatives) to free speech perhaps more so in parliament or in parliamentary committees. However, AALA strongly advocates that all members of the Australian community should be accorded with the core Australian values of natural justice, fairness, equality and a ‘fair go’; and that persons of Asian ancestry (or any other ancestry) are not subjected to processes and inquiries inconsistent with those values in Australian public life and before any governmental and representative bodies. Australia must be a level playing field.
AALA urges all members of the community, including our parliamentary representatives, to adhere to our core Australian values and our shared commitment to those values. AALA also calls on all members of the community to demand and claim their right to speak out and engage with the institutions and bodies of civil society to maintain and build on our uniquely Australian dedication to justice, fairness, tolerance, equality and a ‘fair go’.
Further inquiries may be made to the AALA by email or by contacting Molina Asthana at 0400785299.
A new branch of Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) was established in South Australia on 1 October 2020. With its recent establishment, AALA now has branches in SA, ACT (also established on 1 October), WA, Victoria, Qld and NSW, cementing its place as a national organisation.
Jessica Teoh, a Director at Laity Morrow, is President, and Brian Vuong, a Director at Kain Lawyers, is Secretary, of the inaugural SA Branch.
AALA welcomes our new SA branch!
For further information read full article from The Bulletin - Law Society of South Australia "Asian Australian Lawyers Association establishes new branch"
AALA Vice President Molina Asthana has been announced as a finalist in the Women in Law Awards 2020 as Thought Leader of the Year. As a finalist, she has been recognised among Australia’s top female legal professionals. Congratulations to Molina on this much-deserved honour.
To see all 2020 Finalists
Winners announced at the awards ceremenony on 10 December, 2020. For more information is here.
AALA NATIONAL AGM AND BRANCH MEETINGS 2020 - LAST DATE TO RENEW YOUR AALA MEMBERSHIP OR JOIN AALA TO BE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE
Further to our previous e-mail, please find below in image format (for better readability on mobile devices) the dates of the AALA National AGM and State and Territory Branch Meetings, along with the last date you can renew your membership or join AALA to be eligible to vote at the National AGM and your relevant Branch Meeting:
If your AALA membership has lapsed and you would like to renew your membership, please renew online now through our website by logging in using the button at the top right of the web page. You can check whether your AALA membership is current via this method as well.
If you would like to join AALA as a new member, please visit here and sign up now.
We will send a formal Notice of National AGM and formal Notice of your relevant Branch Meeting in due course.
AALA National Secretary
on behalf of the AALA National Executive Committee
LIV election and AALA representation - Molina Asthana and Zubair Mian
Molina Asthana, our AALA National Vice President is nominated for the role of Vice President of the Law Institute of Victoria. She has been on Council for 4 years and on various committees for 5 years before that. Molina chairs the Sexual Harassment Taskforce at the LIV, contributes regularly on policy submissions and is a regular contributor to the LIV Journal. She has extensive governance experience on various boards including the Graduate House of the University of Melbourne, AFL South East Commission, Gymnastics Victoria and Good Shepherd AUSNZ and is a member of the Football Federation of Victoria Tribunal. Her advocacy work has won many awards and is occasionally reported in media. To read further, go to: http://www.aala.org.au/resources/LIV%20election%20statement.%20pdf.pdf
If you are a LIV member, please support Molina by filling out the proxy form you would have received with the notice of AGM and is available on https://www.liv.asn.au/About/Council-Governance/AGM-Notice.aspx. You can vote for her under item 5 of the proxy form.
Our National Executive member Zubair Mian is also running for Council. He is a long standing practitioner and founding member of AALA and Vice President till 2017. His past and present positions held include President, Eastern Solicitors Law Association since 2012, LIV Executive Council, LIV Committees including Bail review, Diversity, Access to Justice, LIV Awards, Membership and various others, registered Mentor LIV & AALA and LIV Council Liaison NSLA & MPLA. You would have received the notice of elections and you can vote accordingly.
'Take a seat at the back': Lawyers, judge hit out at racism in the law
by Tammy Mills, The Age, 15 October, 2020
"Are you the defendant or are you the witness?" Sam Pandya is neither. He's the president of the Law Institute of Victoria, the state's top legal society. But it's a question he's been asked in court more than once...
Along with a Victorian judge, he has taken the unusual step of speaking out as new figures show the profession has a cultural diversity problem. In information collated in Victoria for the first time by the Legal Services Board at the request of the institute, lawyers renewing their practising certificates have been asked about their cultural background. Of the 17,000 lawyers who responded (70 per cent of registered practitioners), about 80 per cent said they were from an "Australian" or Anglo-Celtic background, 5 per cent were Chinese, 3 per cent were Indian and fewer than 1 per cent said they were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The lack of diversity is a known issue in the sector. A poll last year of 11 of the big commercial firms found while 25 per cent of law graduates and non-partners had an Asian background, only 8 per cent of partners were Asian.
Race discrimination commissioner warns Australian partner visa changes could ‘segregate’ marriages
by Naveen Razik, SBS News
Commissioner Chin Tan said the government decision to add an English language requirement for partner visas had led to 'justifiable concern' among the community.
Australia's race discrimination commissioner has urged the federal government to consult with key community stakeholders on a new English language requirement for partner visas, warning it could serve to "segregate" migrant couples.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan on Tuesday said the inclusion of the requirement in last week's federal budget came as a surprise to those leaders in the multicultural sector.
The peak body for migration agents in Australia, the Migration Institute of Australia, has also told SBS News it received no prior warning.
Backlash against English language test for partner visa
By Tony Zhang; Lawyers Weekly, 12 October 2020
The new English language test requirement for partner visas has caused backlash across communities and couples overseas, along with some policy shifts for migration agents and law space.
Foreigners who fall in love with Australians would have to complete 500 hours of English classes before they are allowed to stay in the country permanently.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge revealed new details of the English language requirement, announced in Tuesday’s federal budget, for people applying for partner visas.
The test also applies to an applicant’s spouse, if they are a permanent resident rather than an Australian citizen.
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