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Managing Lawyer - Migration & Refugee Rights

Human Rights Law Centre

The Human Rights Law Centre, a leading national human rights organisation, seeks a Managing Lawyer to lead our refugee and migrant rights program of work. This ongoing full-time position is ideally based in Melbourne or Sydney but we will consider remote working arrangements across Australia.

The Human Rights Law Centre is committed to diversity and recognises that employing people with lived experience of the human rights issues we work on promotes effectiveness and legitimacy of our work. People from culturally and linguistically diverse or migrant and refugee backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

About the Human Rights Law Centre

The Human Rights Law Centre uses strategic legal action, policy solutions and advocacy to support people and communities to eliminate inequality and injustice and build a fairer, more compassionate Australia.   

Our vision is an Australia where everyone is free to lead a decent, dignified life; where our laws, policies and institutions promote fairness and equality; and where people and communities have the power to address inequality and injustice and ensure that governments always act in the public interest.   

The Human Rights Law Centre is a registered charity with offices in Melbourne and Sydney. We have a diverse staff team and board with a strong, shared commitment to creating a better, fairer Australia.

About the role

This is an exciting position leading a critical area of the Human Rights Law Centre’s strategic plan. In this role, you will:

  • shape the long-term strategic direction of our refugee and migrant rights work;
  • address human rights abuses and help to change unjust laws and policies to improve the lives of people who come to Australia seeking safety and a home; and
  • be an active member of the Human Rights Law Centre’s Strategy Team, contributing to overall strategy of the organisation to achieve our human rights goals.

Our team works in close collaboration with others in the migrant and refugee rights sectors. We aim to build relationships of trust and accountability with the communities, partners and clients we work with. We seek to amplify and be guided by the voices and expertise of people who are refugees or migrants. We are actively working to improve the ways we work in solidarity with people, communities and representative organisations.

You will empower and support a talented team which is currently 1.7EFT legal and advocacy staff to execute our refugee and migrant rights strategy. You will also leverage significant pro bono resources from law firms and barristers, including secondee lawyer support, to achieve our strategic goals.

You will be provided with management support, a collaborative and flexible work environment and opportunities for growth and development.

Current strategic goals for our migration and refugee rights work are:

  • Ending the offshore detention regime for people seeking safety in Australia;
  • Changing laws and policies to make it easier for refugee families to reunite in safety in Australia; and
  • Ending mandatory and indefinite immigration detention and addressing human rights abuses within Australian detention facilities.

There is scope to develop new strategic focus areas and grow the program of work to address other human rights issues associated with displacement, borders, citizenship, visa status and the visa system.

Key responsibilities

Reporting to a Legal Director, the Managing Lawyer will:

  • Develop and implement the strategic plan for the Human Rights Law Centre’s migration and refugee rights work;
  • Lead staff and pro bono project teams to achieve strategic refugee and migrant rights goals;
  • Lead legal action, policy, advocacy and campaign work to address human rights abuses and to strengthen Australia’s legal and policy framework to promote the rights of people who are refugees and migrants;
  • Manage and develop strong stakeholder & client relationships including with community partners, pro bono partners, government, politicians and the media;
  • Write and settle reports, submissions, speeches, letters, campaign content and other publications to promote our advocacy goals;
  • Undertake media work to support advocacy goals;
  • Represent the organisation in senior-level meetings and at public events;
  • Oversee research to build an effective evidence base in support of our advocacy objectives;
  • Build strong collaborations between civil society organisations, community partners and unions, finding common ground, negotiating shared positions and managing strategic differences;
  • Help to identify and secure financial and pro bono resources to support the Human Rights Law Centre’s migration and refugee rights work;
  • Be an active member of the Human Rights Law Centre’s Strategy Team, contributing to overall strategy of the organisation to achieve our human rights goals;
  • Contribute to organisational leadership, including by setting standards and identifying improvements to policies and practices and ways to ensure a positive work environment; and
  • Assist with the supervision of legal and advocacy staff; supervise secondees, interns and volunteers; and assist with recruitment.

There is significant flexibility in this role and an opportunity for the successful person to shape the position to suit their skills and experience. We are open to supporting a talented candidate with less experience to grow and develop in the role.

Key selection criteria


  • Leadership experience in a relevant legal, policy or advocacy setting.   
  • A deep understanding of the human rights issues affecting people who are refugees and migrants in Australia.
  • The ability to develop and maintain strong and constructive relationships with refugee and migrant communities, individuals and organisations.  
  • The ability to oversee, develop and implement strategy to achieve legal and policy change using advocacy, legal action and policy solutions.  
  • Stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to form and manage diverse constructive relationships including clients, civil society organisations, politicians and public servants.  
  • Strong communication skills, including experience in, or a willingness to engage in, public speaking and media advocacy. 
  • Familiarity with Australian migration law and policy.
  • A law degree and legal practice experience.

Terms and conditions

  • Annual full-time salary of up to $120,865 plus $12,086 superannuation at the current 10% superannuation rate.   
  • The Human Rights Law Centre has charity tax status enabling us to offer staff generous salary packaging options. The tax savings for staff who take full advantage of salary packaging options significantly increases their take home pay.  
  • The Human Rights Law Centre’s Enterprise Agreement provides benefits including 5 weeks annual leave, 4 wellbeing days, flexible work arrangements and generous and flexible parental leave. See further: Human Rights Law Centre Enterprise Agreement. 
  • The position is a full-time, ongoing position. We will also consider 0.8EFT. The Human Rights Law Centre is open to flexibility and responses from applicants proposing job-share arrangements.  
  • The Human Rights Law Centre offers flexible working arrangements, opportunities for professional development and mentoring, and a workplace culture that is collaborative, dynamic, values diversity and is committed to learning and looking after each other.  
  • Occasional interstate or international travel may be required and some work outside standard business hours to accommodate urgent work and work across time zones.

Further information

For further information about the Human Rights Law Centre, see www.hrlc.org.au. For further information about this position, email hugh.dekretser@hrlc.org.au using the subject line: Managing Lawyer - Migration & Refugee Rights enquiry via EthicalJobs.

A position description is attached.

How to apply

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