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Harvard Law helps build program at CDU

By Katie Weiss

CDU Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam says students will gain skills in processing refugee and asylum seeker  visa claims CDU Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam says students will gain skills in processing refugee and asylum seeker visa claims

A Harvard academic has helped Charles Darwin University’s School of Law create a program for students to assist in refugee and asylum seeker claims.

CDU Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam said law students would gain practical skills in processing visa claims once the clinical program began.

Mr Yogaratnam recently arranged for Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic Assistant Director Sabrineh Ardalan to run an introductory clinical program workshop for CDU staff and other stakeholders at Casuarina campus.

He said the clinical program would be supervised by refugee and immigration law lawyers, who provided pro bono services to such clients.

“It will be about supporting the legal profession in Darwin and bridging the gap in legal representation in such cases,” Mr Yogaratnam said.

Mr Yogaratnam said students would learn about refugee and migration law, and gain hands-on experience during the clinical placement, by writing briefs and interviewing clients.

He said the program would also aim to enhance students’ interactions with Darwin refugee and asylum seeker service providers.

“There is potential work in this area that, more often than not, the lawyers from interstate take on, because we don’t have the capacity or the relevant skills up here.”

Mr Yogaratnam said Ms Ardalan’s introductory workshop provided attendees with training on how to establish clinical programs, and how to form valuable links with relevant Darwin community services.

Workshop attendees included CDU staff, Melaleuca Refugee Centre and Red Cross representatives, and legal and migration agents in Darwin.

Mr Yogaratnam said Harvard University’s involvement in the clinical program would help strengthen CDU’s relationship with the prestigious institution.

“This will give CDU School of Law the opportunity to develop further research networks with Harvard Law and to benefit from comparative law research initiatives in future,” he said.