Legal Aid Coordinator, Suaka - Indonesian Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection

Shortly after completing practical legal training at Leo Cussen I joined Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre as manager. My role included casework, grant-funded legal aid projects, managing budgets, staff and volunteers, assessing unmet community legal need, relationship building, and more. After this, I moved to Eastern Community Legal Centre as migration solicitor, which included ‘Sort It’, a legal aid outreach program to Deakin University students.

In March 2015 I moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, to begin work as Legal Aid Coordinator for “Suaka – Indonesian Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection”. Suaka is the first and only organisation in Indonesia offering direct legal assistance to refugee communities. My role is a mixture of providing legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees, campaign and policy advocacy, research, fundraising, and training Indonesian lawyers in International Refugee Law. We also focus on building relationships with civil society groups and international organisations both locally and regionally, and UNHCR has been wonderfully supportive of our work. I am the only non-Indonesian working at Suaka and the role is extremely fulfilling, quite stressful at times and often very sad.

Moving to a country with many cultural differences, learning a new language and negotiating my way through hot, crazy, crowded, wonderful Jakarta on a daily basis has been both confusing and amazing and every day I feel privileged to be able to use my legal training in a way that benefits others, and for a cause I am passionate about.