World leader in international refugee law tops UNSW's Queen's Birthday Honours

Scientia Professor Jane McAdam leads the list of UNSW Sydney recipients of 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Louise Templeton, Lauren Martin | UNSW Newsroom
Scientia Professor Jane McAdam has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to international refugee law, particularly to climate change and the displacement of people”. Photo: UNSW Sydney

Scientia Professor Jane McAdam, a world expert in human displacement as a consequence of climate change and disasters, heads the list of UNSW academics, alumni, current and former colleagues, and community members recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Prof. McAdam has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to international refugee law, particularly to climate change and the displacement of people”.

“It’s an enormous honour to be recognised in this way,” she said. “There are so many dedicated people working tirelessly to protect the rights of refugees and other forced migrants. I hope this serves as recognition of their contribution as well.

“I also hope this helps to draw attention to the plight of millions of refugees and other forced migrants around the world in search of protection.”

Professor Andrew Lynch, Acting Dean of UNSW Law & Justice, said: “This is a well-deserved recognition of Prof. McAdam’s pioneering and sustained contribution to the field, and we congratulate her on joining a distinguished group appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

“There are few greater challenges facing the international community today than how to provide safe, durable and legal solutions for those seeking asylum, including forced migrants. Prof. McAdam has had a tangible, practical impact on these issues through her own work and through her leadership at the Kaldor Centre.”

Prof. McAdam founded the Kaldor Centre – the world’s first research centre dedicated to the study of international refugee law – at UNSW in 2013. The Centre’s mission is to inform change with rigorous research. Under her direction, it has become a global intellectual powerhouse, producing clear, independent and long-term thinking based on evidence, informed by history, and underpinned by legal principle. It also supports Australian law and policy reform by interrogating the legal and historical dimensions of refugee policies and devising alternative approaches to the status quo.

Prof. McAdam also works at the forefront of global efforts to ensure that people displaced in the context of climate change and disasters are protected. She is actively engaged in key international policy processes, from advising the UN Refugee Agency on its global strategy, to providing advice to the Biden Administration about how the US could create protection and resettlement frameworks for people displaced by the impacts of climate change.

Her disaster-displacement work has informed frameworks endorsed by the majority of the world’s governments. She also provides guidance in the Asia-Pacific, a region where systems for protecting displaced people are weak.

Prof. McAdam is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She is also a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, an Associated Senior Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway, and a Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative in London. 

UNSW academics, alumni, colleagues, former colleagues and community members have also been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. UNSW congratulates everyone who has been honoured.

Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM)

  • Emeritus Professor Robyn Richmond, Professor of Public Health, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For significant service to tertiary medical education, and to public health.”
  • Dr Judith Yates, Senior Visiting Fellow, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture. “For significant service to housing and economic research, and to education.”
  • Dr John Bennett, Conjoint Professor, UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture. “For significant service to education, to mathematics, and to curriculum standards.”
  • Professor Michael Bennett, Conjoint Professor of Anaesthesia, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For significant service to medical education, and to hyperbaric medicine.”
  • Dr Elizabeth Harris, Adjunct Associate Professor, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For significant service to equity in health care, to research, and to social work."
  • Associate Professor ​Faye McMillan, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For significant service to Indigenous mental health, and to tertiary education.”

Honorary Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM)

  • Mrs Carol Berg, Board Member, Black Dog Institute Foundation. “For significant service to mental health, to social justice, and to the arts.”

Medal in the General Division of the Order of Australia (OAM)

  • Associate Professor Kevin Alford, Senior Lecturer Medicine, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For service to medicine as a cardiologist.”
  • Ms Clare Grant, Honorary Lecturer, UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture. “For service to the performing arts through administrative roles.”
  • Mr Gordon MacKenzie, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, UNSW Business School. “For service to tertiary education.”
  • Dr Mark Pitney, Conjoint Lecturer, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For service to cardiology.”
  • Dr Karen Zwi, Conjoint Professor, UNSW Medicine & Health. “For service to paediatric medicine.

UNSW congratulates all the members of its alumni community who received 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Find the full list f recipients on the Governor-General’s website.