Date & Time: 
Friday 11 October 2019

“We cannot ensure a life with dignity for all if we cannot guarantee a healthy environment” Inger Andersen, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program.


Australian and Pacific Island Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples are on the front line of the global climate crisis. They are also leaders in charting responses to this crisis that can uphold human, and including Indigenous, rights.

This one-day event will bring together speakers from across Australia and the Pacific to identify the specific human rights, including Indigenous rights, challenged by the climate crisis. It will also create a forum for strategic alliance building across NGOs, researchers and community organisations to support on-going rights based climate campaigning, research and education.

We’d love you to be part of this event.

Friends of the Earth Climate Frontlines, The University of Queensland’s Human Rights Consortium, the Pacific Islands Council of Queensland, 350 Australia & the Pacific Climate Warriors, invite you to be part of our one-day human rights and climate change conference.

This event will include a keynote addresses from Dr Anne Poelina * – Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Tony McAvoy SC – Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel, and Genevieve Jiva, coordinator Pacific Islands Climate Action Network.

The day will include panel sessions and round table discussions on:

  • the right to a healthy environment: what’s under threat?
  • displacement, migration and re-settlement
  • opportunities for climate litigation
  • youth and climate change
  • community leadership and involvement in planning for climate change
  • gender, rights and climate change

Date: Friday, 11 October 2019

The Human Rights and Climate Change Conference Summary can be downloaded here (500 Kb).Human Rights and Climate Change conference summary

Conference timetable:

8.45 am – 5.00 pm:  Keynote addresses, panel sessions, and including lunch, morning and afternoon teas

5.00 pm – 6.45 pm: Dinner and cultural program

7.00 pm – 8.30 pm Keynote address with Dr Anne Poelina *

Venue: Global Change Institute, Building 20, University of Queensland, St Lucia

Cost: $50 waged, $20 low income/students and free for concession card holders.

 For additional information please contact

For more information about the organisers please visit

Confirmed speakers include:


Dr Anne Poelina Anne Poelina

Dr Anne Poelina, Managing Director of Madjulla Inc., Chair of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council, is a Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Owner and guardian of the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Dr Poelina life career in Indigenous, human and environmental advocacy spans four decades' achievements including Master Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Master Education, Master Arts (Indigenous Social Policy), Doctor of Philosophy & Doctor of Health Science Scholar. Peter Cullen Fellow (2011), Laureate Women's World Summit Foundation (Geneva) (2017) Adjunct Senior Research Fellow the University of Notre Dame (Nulungu Institute of Research), Adjunct Research Fellow Charles Darwin University (CDU).

Tony McAvoy

Tony McAvoy is a Wirdi man from the central Queensland area around Clermont. He is also a native title holder in his grandmother’s country around Thargomindah in southwest Queensland. Tony commenced work in 1983 at the Brisbane Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service as an articled clerk. He studied part time at QUT. He graduated and was admitted as a solicitor in 1988. He continued to practice as a solicitor working in private practice and at the ATSILS, with some travel, until 1994. In 1994 he was employed in a policy position in the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs, later appointed as Manager of the Heritage and Natural Resources Branch, and served 18 months as Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. In January 2000 he was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW. He has worked extensively in criminal law, administrative law including disciplinary tribunals, coronial inquests, discrimination law, but in recent years has largely practiced in the area of native title. Tony has successfully represented the Githabul, Quandamooka, Kalkadoon, Pitta Pitta, Kullilli, Barngarla and in November 2017 the Gooreng Gooreng people in native title claims in the Federal Court. In August 2016 he was appointed Co-Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.  In 2017 he was advisor to and negotiator for the Narungga People in their treaty negotiations with the State of South Australia. He has advised on the Victoria Treaty Advancement Bill, written numerous papers and spoken nationally and internationally on treaties and truth commissions on many occasions.  In 2018 he was the QUT Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. In 2010 Tony was awarded the Inaugural National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year Award From 2011 to 2013, Tony held an appointment as an Acting Part-Time Commissioner on NSW Land and Environment Court.  Tony is the current co-chair of the Indigenous Legal Issues Committee of the Law Council of Australia, and the Chair of the NSW Bar Association’s First Nations Committee. He is a trustee of the NSW Bar Associations Indigenous Barristers Trust.

Genevieve Jiva – coordinator Pacific Island Climate Action Network

Genevieve Jiva is from Suva, Fiji and is the coordinator for the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), the Pacific regional node of CAN International. She has been a member of PICAN since 2015, participating in their activities and advocating for stronger action on climate change. She has graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Politics, and has completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomacy and International Affairs from the University of the South Pacific. She is currently completing a Masters in Diplomacy and International Affairs, with a focus on Pacific Diplomacy and Loss and Damage negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She is also a volunteer with the WWF Pacific Volunteers Program and has participated in Peace Boat’s Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Program.


Simon Albert – School of Civil Engineering, UQ

Dr Simon Albert is a senior research fellow in the School of Civil Engineering at University of Queensland (UQ), specialising in coastal water quality, marine ecology, climate change adaptation and community based resource management in the Pacific region. For the past 15 years he has worked at the intersection of these fields in both Australia and Melanesia providing a gradient of social-political-ecological factors. Simon’s 2016 paper on sea-level rise impacts on shorelines in Solomon Islands was the first evidence of dramatic changes in shoreline erosion from sea-level rise in the Western Pacific. It drew on a multidisciplinary approach of local indigenous knowledge, GIS, wave models and sea level altimetry to elucidate these interactions. In 2017 Simon extended this work to include the ensuing impacts of these shoreline changes on the human populations that inhabit these vulnerable islands. This work demonstrated that despite the vulnerability of these islands to sea-level rise, the communities that inhabit them are inherently resilient and were able to apply a range of adaptation strategies with no external support.

Lisa Sipaia Baker (Pacific Climate Warrior/Tokelau Disapora organiser)LIsa Sipaia Baker

Lisa Sipaia Baker is a Brisbane based community organiser, youth leader and spoken word artist. She is a descendant of the Tokelau Islands; a Pacific Island nation threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change. Within her work, Lisa commits to ensuring that the Brisbane Tokelau Community are not only informed of the impacts of climate change but that they are also represented in the climate conversation within Australia. Lisa mobilises the Tokelau community for climate actions and also acts as a cultural consultant to allies within the climate movement. She is a devoted member of the Pacific Climate Warrior organisation where she advocates amongst Pacific Islander youth demanding climate justice for her people and the future of the Pacific. She uses the art of storytelling through spoken word and cultural performance to highlight the resilience of her people as a nation that is on the frontlines of climate change. Lisa has a background in media having done a traineeship for Aboriginal radio station ‘98.9FM Best of Country’. 

Justine Bell James – TC Beirne School of Law, UQJustine Bell-James

Dr Justine Bell-James is a Senior Lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the areas of environmental law and property law. Dr Bell-James obtained a PhD from the Queensland University of Technology in 2010, and was subsequently awarded an ARC funded Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2011. Dr Bell-James undertook her postdoctoral research at the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, focussing on legal, policy and insurance responses to coastal hazards and sea-level rise. Dr Bell-James's research focuses on legal mechanisms for protection of the coast, drawing upon environmental, planning, property and tort law. In addition to her work on sea-level rise, Dr Bell-James is also particularly interested in novel legal mechanisms for protection of coastal ecosystems like mangroves and seagrass, protection of the Great Barrier Reef, and biodiversity offsets in the coastal context. Dr Bell-James currently holds an ARC Discovery Grant (2019-2021) to consider how ecosystem services provided by mangroves can be integrated into law.

Nicole George – School of Political Science and International Studies, UQ

Nicole George is an Associate Professor in the UQ School of Political Science and International Studies. She has conducted research on gender, conflict, peacebuilding and women’s advocacy for nearly two decades. She is the author of a monograph mapping the history of women’s organisations in Fiji as well as more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and chapters that discuss conflict transition and gendered security in other Pacific Island countries.

Robati Harrison (350 Pacific Brisbane Assistant Co-ordinator/Kiribati Diaspora organiser)Robati Harrison

Robati Harrison is a proud I-Kiribati person currently living on Yuggera and Yugambeh land. As a recent UQ alumnus, graduating with a Bachelors of Science majoring in Biomedical Science, he was extensively involved with the UQ South Pacific Islander Association during his university career being elected President of the club in 2017. Robati has also been involved in community work for more than five years with the local I-Kiribati communities within the wider Brisbane area and is passionate about nurturing and sharing his culture. He was most recently appointed as the Assistant Coordinator for the Pacific Climate Warriors Brisbane team, a network of young Pacific Islanders using storytelling and the arts to share their lived realities of climate change. Having led and organised workshops and campaigns on climate justice including ‘Breaking Ground’, the first Pasifika-led climate action storytelling tour that visited Logan City and the mining town of Rockhampton, he ensures to find time for his passions of Pasifika culture and languages as well as mobilising youth to create change within their communities.

Murrawah Johnson

Robyn James, Director Conservation, MelanesiaRobyn James, Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy

Asia Pacific Gender Advisor

Robyn has been with the Nature Conservancy (TNC) since 2010 and leads conservation work as well as addressing women’s empowerment work across the organisation. She has led climate adaptation and resilience projects in the Pacific islands. She leads both the gender and mining strategies for the TNC Melanesia program and is passionate about improving the role of women in the most remote communities be better involved in decisions around their natural resources. She is currently working with PNG women on efforts to link sustainable management of mangroves to economic benefits at a larger scale through mechanisms such as the blue carbon economy.


Taukiei Kitara – Pacific Islands Council of Queensland

Taukiei is currently the President for the Tuvalu Community in Brisbane.  In Tuvalu he worked in the NGO sector at the Tuvalu Association of Non-governmental Organisation (TANGO). As a Project Development officer, he assisted communities and TANGO members in project development, implementation and report writing.  He was a co-founder of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN) and selected to its secretariat.  Alongside these roles he was also appointed as the National Focal Person (NFP) for the Small-Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-SGP) in Tuvalu.  As the NFP, he was mandated to assist communities identify environmental project priorities such as Climate Change Adaptation projects and setting up of community managed marine conservation areas. He also represented Tuvalu civil society at several international climate change Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COPs). His mission is to help his country (Tuvalu) in any way possible in their fight against climate change, now involving raising awareness and advocating for the people of Tuvalu here in Australia and beyond.

Ruth Konia – The Nature ConservancyRuth Konia

Ruth Konia comes from Madang Province in Papua New Guinea. Since 2011 she has been working with The Nature Conservancy in Papua New Guinea (PNG), initially as Director of Communications for the TNC PNG Program and until recently she is overseeing a project called the ‘Mangoro Market Meri’ funded by the Australian Government. The Mangoro Market Meri project works through/with women groups in Milne Bay and Manus Provinces around natural resource management of mangroves for eco-tourism, identifying markets for selling mangrove produce, and protecting and conserving the mangrove habitat. Prior to The Nature Conservancy, Ruth worked with Partners With Melanesians Inc., a local conservation organisation on program management and a “rainforest literacy” outreach project. She also worked with World Wide Fund for Nature, South Pacific Program as Forest Information Campaign Officer, focused on strengthening environmentally sound practices in the forestry sector. She has undertaken various consultancies throughout her career, including report writing and evaluation, such as a 2017 evaluation of the public interest environmental and advocacy organisation in PNG, the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR Inc.). She also provided consultant support to The Christensen Fund around their grant-making in Melanesia in 2010. Ruth is currently a volunteer to the Global Greengrants Fund Pacific Islands Advisory Board where she works with other Pacific Islands Advisors on grant-making in PNG. Ruth is married with six children. In her spare time Ruth likes to spend quiet time with her family.

Sailoto Liveti (Pacific Climate Warrior/Pacific Islands Queensland Council Climate Change Network Rep)

Sailoto LivetiSailoto Liveti is a climate activist who has been involved with the overall Brisbane climate space since 2015. Throughout his climate journey, he has been affiliated with several NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) including the Australian Marine Conservation Society as the 2017 Brisbane Volunteer Committee Chair and Friends of the Earth as a lead contributor/role in the 2015 climate change-oriented theatrical production Mama’s Bones. Currently, he is a proud Pacific Climate Warrior (PCW) and is a part of the organising team for the Brisbane Pacific Climate Warrior group. He is also an active member of the Youth Network and the Climate Change Network; both established sub-committees under the Pacific Islands Council of Queensland, Inc. His climate advocacy endeavours have also garnered him numerous opportunities to raise awareness on both local and international platforms. He undertook the position of co-moderator for a future-focused plenary at the 2017 Oceania Ecosystems Services Forum and has participated as both a panellist and speaker at numerous seminars, including the 2018 UQ SENergy Forum and the 2018 Chrysalis International Young Leaders Conference. He has also represented both Tuvalu and Australia respectively as a delegate at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Summit and as a CSO representatives at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum this year. At the core of his passion for seeking climate justice is his connection to his home of Tuvalu and its people; his kaiga (family). Although being a first-generation Pasifika diaspora, his love for his country is unparalleled. Therefore, acknowledging the avenues available in Australia, he aims to continue exploring and innovating platforms here to share the stories of the Tuvaluan people; to bring the narrative of their dilemma with climate change impacts to the forefront. Additionally, he hopes to maintain collaborative partnerships with CSOs across the Pasifika region as well as build capacity within communities, with a strong focus on youth leadership, to strengthen community resilience.

Michelle Maloney – Australian Earth Laws Alliance Dr Michelle Maloney

Dr Michelle Maloney (BA/LLB Hons, PhD) is an environmental lawyer and international leader in the Earth laws and Rights of Nature movement.  Michelle is the Co-Founder and Director of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA); Co-Founder and Director of the New Economy Network Australia (NENA), and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Law Futures Centre, Griffith University. Michelle’s publications and work can be found on her profile page -

Stella Miria-Robinson Pacific Islands Council of Queensland

Stella Miria-RobinsonStella Miria-Robinson, was born on Yule Island in the then Papua, was raised in the town of Madang in the then Territory of New Guinea in present day Papua New Guinea (PNG).  Stella has been working in the community services sector for the past 13 years.  She has a passion for cultural diversity, climate change, and empowerment of women and youth.  Stella shares this passion through her work as a Multicultural Partnership & Engagement Advisor with Uniting Care, and as a volunteer to the Pacific Islander communities in south east Queensland through the Pasifika Women’s Alliance Inc. and the Pacific Islands Council of Qld (PICQ).  Stella is an endorsed Ambassador for the PICQ in her efforts to advocate for all things Pasifika, and serves as co-chair of PICQ’s climate change network.  Stella’s commitment and engagement in the Climate Change agenda has seen her in various places and spaces such as:

  • Initiating the ‘Mama’s Bones’ play performed at the Redland City Council’s Pacific Tides Festival in 2017, highlighting the cultural impacts of climate change in the Pacific
  • The opening speaker at the Brisbane People’s March on Climate Change in November 2015 attended by over 12,000 people.
  • Member of the Friends of the Earth International advocacy team at the UNFCCC COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, including panel member for an Asia-Pacific event, participation in the 25,000 strong Peoples March, and in FoEI’s campaign activities to “keep coal and gas in the ground” and advocacy for “decent jobs on a living planet”.
  • Member of Working Group and event moderator for “Where do we go? displacement and relocation challenges of climate change for communities in the Pacific Islands Region” forum, Brisbane Parliament House, May 2018
  • Speaker at the Pacific Pawa: Rise for Climate Change rally in King George Square in September 2018 hosted by Pacific Climate Warriors/
  • Human Rights Threats in Warming World Could Speed up Climate Action

Chris McGrath – Barrister Chris McGrath

Dr Chris McGrath is a Brisbane barrister. During the past 15 years he has acted in several climate cases, mainly against coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales, listed on his website. He is currently representing customary landowners in Papua New Guinea in proceedings against illegal land clearing. His topic is based on a presentation he recently gave to a workshop on climate litigation at the University of Melbourne, a recording of which is available here.

Aunty Rose Aunty Togiab McRose Elu

Aunty Rose was born on Saibai Island in the north western Torres Strait and spent her early childhood in Seisia on the northerly tip of Cape York.  After working for 20 years in various Queensland Government departments, Aunty Rose is currently an Indigenous Service Delivery Advisor with Relationships Australia Qld, with the responsibility for liaising with communities in the Torres Strait.  Her educational qualifications include a BA in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Queensland and a PhD in Customary Law from the University of Hawai’i. She is a member of a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and Anglican Church committees, and an Elder in Residence of Griffith University’s Nathan and Logan campuses. In partnership with Friends of the Earth Climate Frontlines, Aunty Rose has been an active advocate for the rights of Torres Strait Islanders suffering the impacts of climate change.  She joined the Friends of the Earth international team at the Paris COP 21 climate negotiations in 2015, and was actively engaged in all levels of the process:

  • Held a private lobby meeting with Australian Federal Government Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, to discuss climate change issues in the Torres Strait Islands.
  • Was a keynote speaker at Affected Communities press conference, focusing on Indigenous rights.
  • Attended meetings of official Australian climate negotiating team and asked questions related to impacts on the Torres Strait.
  • Spoke at Citizen Climate Conference on climate impacts on Torres Strait and Indigenous peoples.
  • Held an interview with Real World Radio 

Aminata Morseu-Diop Aminata Morseu-Diop

Born and raised in Brisbane,  Aminata Morseu-Diop is a descendant of the Meriam (Dauareb), Erubam, Ugaram, and Kulkalgal nations of the Torres Strait and Senegal, West Africa. She is a recent graduate from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Community Development. She is currently completing a Master of Public Health which focuses on health promotion and disease prevention, substance abuse, global health, and Indigenous health. Aminata's family work in areas of Indigenous health, both in academia and on a grassroots level, which has spurred her interest in pursuing a career in Indigenous health research.

Tapenaga Jnr ReupenaTapenaga Jnr Reupena

Tapenaga Jnr Reupena is an Australian-born Samoan from the villages of Falelatai/Siufaga, Samatau, Nofoalii, Falevao, Lepa, Matatufu and Fasitootai in Upolu & Fagaee, Sasina and Letui in Savaii. He is the current vice-president of The University of Queensland South Pacific Association. In 2015 Tapenaga joined the climate movement as a Pacific Climate Warrior educating and mobilising communities about climate change through traditional means of storytelling. He draws inspiration and strength from his late grandmother, a very important figure who instilled into him the importance of culture and maintaining our connection to the homeland. Tapenaga hopes to empower his fellow Pacific Islander communities to rise and fight for their homeland, for their culture and for their people. Most recently, Tapenaga has acted as a Pasifika media spokesperson for the Global Strike. As a Samoan youth representative he encourages all to fight for a future where Pasifika people in their homelands are not only surviving but thriving.

Sean Ryan – Environmental Defenders Office

As EDO Qld's Principal Solicitor, Sean is responsible for the integrity of advice and casework. Having worked for all levels of government and a range of industries on broad ranging environmental issues, Sean brings a broad perspective to assisting the community and public interest. Sean worked for both government and in private consultancy before moving onto a six-year stint in private law practice with Corrs Chambers Westgarth, He joined EDO Qld in 2011.  Sean has degrees in both law and environmental science as well as a Masters in Environmental Law from the University of Queensland.

Gladys Salirade – Solomon IslandsGladys Salirade

Born in Papua New Guinea, Gladys has spent most of her childhood and schooling in Solomon Islands. She recently graduated with an Honours degree in Pharmacy from Monash University, Melbourne, and is currently the only Intern Pharmacist for the National Pharmacy Division at the Ministry of Health & Medical Services in Solomon Islands. Much of Gladys’ work is based at the National Referral Hospital, where she assists in the Dispensary, the Solomon Islands Medicines Information Centre, Clinical Pharmacist services. Once Gladys completes her internship and provincial (rural) hospital rotation, she hopes to earn registration to practice as a pharmacist at the National Hospital. Gladys’ passion to voice concerns on climate change began while still in high school, where she noticed her favourite island home rapidly diminishing in size over the years. Gladys started to take pictures to keep a record of these observations. Eventually, the island completely submerged under water, something that hurts Gladys deeply. She welcomes the opportunity to share her story on behalf of her people, and to connect with others on the frontline of climate-change impacts. Gladys hopes personal stories such as hers can support research, as well as help us to move into a world where many more people work hand-in-hand to implement strategies that will enable us to protect what’s left of our heritage.


Items of further interest

Human rights and the UN Climate Summit
The first ever global summit on human rights and climate change will be held in New York 18 & 19 September, in the lead up to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit.  Here’s an introduction to the preparatory rationale.

Above: Dr Simon Albert & Gladys Saliride, both speakers at the Human Rights and Climate Change conference, recently featured in an ITV report by Rachel Younger about the many small islands facing an uncertain future under rising sea levels.

Above: Why Climate Change Is a Threat to Human Rights: Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans and dying farm fields, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended — and their human rights threatened — by killer storms, starvation and the loss of their own lands. Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice. Mary Robinson, TED Talks.

Above: Matagi - By Pacific Climate Warriors Brisbane

Please note that due to the administrative and financial obligations incurred on organisers, no refunds are available for this event once bookings are accepted.

For more information please contact Kristen Lyons.

UQ Global Change Institute, Building 20, St Lucia Campus
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