There is currently a record number of people who have been forcibly displaced: 1 in every 95 people in the world have had to flee in search of safety for themselves and their families. There are many reasons why people may be forced to leave their homes, including conflict, discrimination, persecution, extreme poverty, and environmental disasters. Forced migrants often face many risks as they move in search of safety or better opportunities, including violence, food insecurity, and limited or no access to health services or education.

Forced migration is a complex issue which we believe can be best understood by taking an interdisciplinary approach. This is why the Forced Migration Research Network is made up of scholars based predominantly in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture at UNSW who work across the social sciences, including history, philosophy, media and film studies, cultural studies, education, and social psychology. We partner with civil society organisations, service providers, government bodies and international actors to undertake our research, policy, training, and advocacy activities.

Our objectives include:

  • supporting and working in partnership with refugee communities and forced migrants
  • building strong partnerships with organisations in the refugee sector
  • implementing our commitment to participatory, gender and diversity-sensitive rights-based research
  • fostering deeper collaboration across the different research areas
  • showcasing the diversity of innovative work undertaken at UNSW, and
  • building on and extending industry and academic partnerships.

UNSW now offers the Sanctuary Scholarship for People Seeking Asylum and Refugees with Temporary Protection and the Welcome Scholarship for Students from Refugee Backgrounds. Please direct any questions about these scholarships to the UNSW Scholarships team at

Interested in learning more about what we do? Follow the links to explore our projects, training kits and advocacy work. Want to get in touch with us or subscribe to our newsletter? Drop us an email at

Upcoming events

  • Sally Baker

    Sally Baker is an Associate Professor of Migration and Education at the Australian National University. Her research and advocacy interests are refugee education which includes higher education equity, educational experiences of students with migration backgrounds, and ethical issues with doing research in ‘fragile contexts’.

    Ruth Balint

    Associate Professor Ruth Balint researches and teaches transnational histories of migration, refugees, and the family, with a current focus on the displaced persons of World War Two. She has recently written on the histories of families broken apart by the immigration policies of western nations and refugee stories of people smuggling.

    Linda Bartolomei

    Dr Linda Bartolomei works on a variety of international advocacy, human rights & development-related research activities, including action-based research projects exploring the challenges associated with responding to refugee women & girls at risk of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. She also works closely with UNHCR Geneva.

    Claire Higgins

    Dr Claire Higgins is an historian whose research interests include refugee status determination in historical context, and alternative policies for processing asylum seekers. She is currently researching the history of in-country programs and other protected entry procedures for refugees.

    Maree Higgins

    Dr Maree Higgins’ research focuses on participatory methods and human rights-informed research with refugee-background co-researchers and people of African descent. Her scholarship explores how co-research can safely and ethically illuminate lived experience, promote inclusion, and create meaningful social change.

    Eileen Pittaway

    Adjunct Associate Professor Eileen Pittaway’s rich body of work continues to focus on the prevention of, and response to the rape, sexual abuse and gender-based violence experienced by refugee women. Over the past 24 years, she has worked with refugees, United Nations and humanitarian agencies, and evaluated projects in 22 different countries.

    Susanne Schmeidl

    Dr Susanne Schmeidl is a scholar-practitioner whose research has focused on the intersecting areas of conflict & refugee early warning, inclusive & locally-led peace formation, and conflict-sensitive practice.

    Claudia Tazreiter

    Professor Claudia Tazreiter is a political sociologist. Her research focuses on contemporary human rights discourses, migration, particularly forced migration, the role of civil society, and creative and arts practices in social change.
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    Mina Roces

    Mina Roces is a Professor of History in the School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW. She is a specialist in twentieth century Philippine history. Her research interests include the histories of Filipino migration, gender, dress, and childhoods.

    Ilan Katz

    Professor Katz is from the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW. He specialises in policy focused research methodology & analysis, in particular projects using mixed methods. His research interests include mental health, child protection, disability, justice, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander social policy, human service system reform and aging.

    Valentina Baú

    Dr. Valentina Baú is a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, Institute for Cultural Studies, and Honorary Senior Lecturer at UNSW. Her research explores different theoretical frameworks and practical applications in Communication for Development in Peacebuilding.

    Ramaswami Harindranath

    R. Harindranath’s main areas of research interest include media cultures in the Global South; the cultural politics of mobility and citizenship; diasporic and transnational cultural formations; and ‘race’, class and representation. He currently leads the ADA Antiracism Collective.

    Jung-Sook Lee

    Jung-Sook Lee is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney. Her research focuses on breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantages. Her research interests include the wellbeing of vulnerable children and families, risk and resilience, social and cultural capital, diversity, and multicultural practice.

    Anthony Zwi

    Professor Zwi is Professor of Global Health and Development in the School of Social Sciences at UNSW. His research interests include global health and development policy and practice, as well as their interface(s) with equity, social justice and human rights.

    Anikó Hatoss

    Dr Anikó Hatoss is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the School of Humanities and Languages. Her research addresses social justice in the context of linguistic diversity and mobility through the study of migrant/refugee narratives, intergenerational language maintenance and family language planning.

    Mary Zournazi

    M. Zournazi is an Australian film maker, author and cultural philosopher. Her multi-awarding winning documentary Dogs of Democracy (2017) was screened worldwide. She is the author of several books including Hope - New Philosophies for Change, Inventing Peace with the German filmmaker Wim Wenders and Justice and Love with Rowan Williams.

    Caroline Wake

    Dr Caroline Wake is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance, whose research interests include the representation, participation and self-determination of artists with lived experience of forced migration. She is currently researching artistic responses to Australia's offshore processing regime. 

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  • The FMRSN is a network of higher degree research students (HDR) undertaking research in forced migration based at UNSW. Established in 2020, the FMRSN aims to foster outstanding and original PhD research and provide postgraduate students associated with the UNSW Forced Migration Research Network to have a forum to engage with each other. The FMRSN is open for all postgraduate students involved in forced migration research across various research disciplines. FMRSN offers monthly meetings, several networking opportunities with senior academics and workshops relevant to PhD research.


    Ruth Horsfall
    Title of PhD thesis: Exploring the impact on wellbeing of beginners acting classes for young women with refugee backgrounds in Western Sydney
    Supervisors: Dr Caroline Wake, Associate Professor Caroline Lenette

    Simon Metcalfe
    Title of PhD thesis: Affective Dimensions of Border Regimes: Australia’s violent border policies towards people seeking asylum via boat
    Supervisors: Dr Maree Higgins, Dr Yao-Tai Li and Associate Professor Helen Pringle

    Current members

    Carly Hawkins
    Title of PhD thesis: Nauru: The impact of immigration detention on the education of refugee children
    Supervisors: Dr Hazel Blunden, Associate Professor Caroline Lenette, and Dr Sarah Mares

    Tim McLennan
    Title of PhD thesis: Evaluating equity practices for Students from Refugee Backgrounds in Aotearoa and Australian Higher Education institutions
    Supervisors: Associate Professor Sally Baker and Dr Rose Amazan

    Urvashi Jalali
    Title of PhD thesis: A Search for Home in Exile - Placemaking as an evocative concept through the Cornerstones of Identity, Belonging, Rootedness Memory, Materiality, and Beyond in the Aftermath of a Forced Uprooting
    Supervisors: Associate Prof Dijana Alic and Dr David Sanderson

    Mohammad Mehdi Hassan
    Title of PhD thesis: Addressing the structural barriers to employment of refugees in construction
    Supervisors: Dr Ahmed WA Hammad, Dr Cynthia Wang, Professor Martin Loosemore, Dr Daniel Chamberlain, and Professor Robyn Keast

    Natasha Yacoub
    Title of PhD thesis: Gendering the criteria for voluntary repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons
    Supervisors: Professor Jane McAdam and Associate Professor Christine Forster

    Xiaxia Zhang 
    Title of PhD thesis: Translating Minor Melancholia: Weird English and Hybrid Languages in the Fiction of Brian Castro 
    Supervisors: Professor Elizabeth McMahon, Professor Brigitta Olubas, and Associate Professor Fiona Morrison

    Anja Wendt
    Title of PhD thesis: The Relationship between Volunteers and the Refugee Settlement Sector in Australia
    Supervisors: Dr Linda Bartolomei and Dr Susanne Schmeidl

    Bella Choo (she/her)

    University of Melbourne

    Title: The "Australian Dream": Aspirations of young migrants with disability

    Supervisors: Belinda Hewitt, Irma Mooi-Reci, Zoe Aitken, Paul Ramcharan

    Mireille Kayeye

    University of Melbourne

    Title of research: Empowerment of Women Seeking Asylum: A Voice for Change

    Supervisors: Professor Celia McMichael and Professor Bina Fernandez

    Tamara Megaw

    University of Sydney

    Title of PhD thesis: Community-led approaches to refugee protection in Southeast Asia

    Supervisors: Professor Michele Ford and Associate Professor Susan Banki


    Diana Kreemers
    Project title: Institutional listening to minority voices: representation, recognition, and refugee media
    Supervisors: Associate Professor Tanja Dreher, Professor Ramaswami Harindranath, and Dr Linda Bartolomei

    Zoe Bell
    Title of PhD thesis: Refugee Protection and Statelessness: The lived experience of the Rohingya Community in Australia
    Supervisors: Prof Claudia Tazreiter, Dr Susanne Schmeidl

    Anna Xavier
    Title of PhD thesis: Breaking Barriers or Building Walls: An Investigation into The Role of Education in the Integration of Refugee-Background Students in Regional NSW
    Supervisors: Associate Professor Sally Baker, Professor Sue Starfield and Dr Rose Amazan