Technology, data and refugee protection

A series of projects exploring how data and technology can enhance the rights of refugees, increase access to justice, and identify and counteract bias and discrimination in the legal system.

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The challenge

In forced migration, as in other areas, technology offers big opportunities and big risks. Governments are using new technologies to manage borders and process visas, raising surveillance, privacy and other concerns. At the same time, people on the move can leverage new technologies in empowering ways that improve their lives, while tech can also help civil society drive greater transparency and accountability. How do we reap the benefits of technology while mitigating the real risks it poses in the refugee context?

Our impact

Ensuring fairness in our courts and tribunals is of vital public interest and is crucial for people seeking asylum, for whom the stakes couldn’t be higher. That’s why we launched the Kaldor Centre Data Lab – a first in Australia – using data to examine decision-making in Australia’s refugee legal system. Led by our Deputy Director, Daniel Ghezelbash, the Lab helps to identify and address potential biases and bottlenecks in the system – promoting transparency, efficiency and fairness.

The project was featured by the ABC RN Law Report (read and listen).  

The data was discussed at discussed at length in Senate estimates, with Senator David Shoebridge pressing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on whether it had taken any steps to address the significant disparity in success rates before individual tribunal members uncovered by the research.

We urge courts to collect and publish similar statistics on the outcomes of decision-making. A submission by Dr Ghezelbash and colleagues was cited extensively in the Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into Judicial Impartiality final report, which consequently recommended Commonwealth courts should develop a policy on the use of statistical analysis of judicial decision-making.

Our work  

New technologies can provide unprecedented insights into decision-making in Australia’s refugee system. The Kaldor Centre Data Lab is designed to reveal otherwise undetected patterns. The Data Lab’s analysis can inform reforms and improve processes at courts and tribunals. A related area of research examines the risks and opportunities posed by automated and assisted decision-making tools.

We are also leading the development of a new Tech4Justice Complaints Platform – a one-stop-shop with tech-powered triage tools that enable self-service advocacy. The platform will allow users to navigate more than 67 complaints pathways open to New South Wales (NSW) residents, help identify which one best suits their specific needs, and then link them through to chatbots that can assist with the complaint preparation. It will also ethically collect de-identified data about complaints to inform advocacy aimed at ending systemic discrimination in Australia. The project is funded by the NSW Government’s Access to Justice Innovation Fund, and is a collaboration with the National Justice Project, global law firm K&L Gates and Australian design company Portable, with support from Microsoft, Josef, Amazon, Wotton & Kearney and Hall & Wilcox.  

Featured work

Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department

Submission to the Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department responding to the administrative review Reform

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Deputy Director, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law Daniel Ghezelbash
Deputy Director, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law
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Keyvan Dorostkar
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Mia Bridle
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