Supporting clients who are ‘subject to very real threats to their lives’

30 May 2022 By Jerome Doraisamy

For 30 Under 30 Awards finalist Sarvashree Singh, resettling refugees and supporting women fleeing domestic violence is all in a day’s work. It is hugely challenging, but also meaningful, work for her.

Emerson Family & Migration Law lawyer Sarvashree Singh (pictured), who is a finalist in the migration category for this week’s 30 Under 30 Awards, has always had a keen interest in human rights and migration law.

As a child of migrants, her interest was piqued by way of her grandparents coming to Australia in the 1970s.

“They were invited as skilled migrants and were fortunate enough to be fluent in English and have a solid educational background, but I am acutely aware of the fact that this is not the case for many who face barriers to justice,” she recalled.

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“It’s a unique area which intersects with many other practice areas – with criminal law where there are migrants who have been charged with a crime and face visa or citizenship cancellation; and with family law surrounding domestic violence or international child abduction involving one parent from a non-Hague Convention country who is unable to even enter Australia to commence proceedings.”

Now working at Emerson, she has become a finalist for the national awards program for emerging leaders in law for her work in helping evacuate and resettle senior government officials and UN personnel in Australia after the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan.

The matters she has worked on the past year, the 24-year-old said, have been “by far the most challenging work I have done – these Afghan nationals were, and continue to be, subject to very real threats to their lives”.

“Their family members in Australia sought our assistance in facilitating their evacuation from Afghanistan and in accessing humanitarian visas for Australia,” she explained.

“And, supporting temporary visa holders facing DV at the hands of their sponsoring partners, is also incredibly challenging, but it is these human experiences which motivate me to do the absolute best that I can.”

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As part of her work this year, Ms Singh also presented a submission that informed the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, on the need for law reform to support women on temporary partner visas fleeing abusive relationships.

This is something, she said, that she is keen to do more with in the coming years: “In the submission we explored the intersectional disadvantages faced by CALD women in their DV experiences and analysed the challenges in accessing the family violence provisions of the Migration Regulations.

“There are a lot of rigid requirements that aren’t adapting to the evolving fabric of society.”

An alumnus of Bond University – which has 16 finalists at the 30 Under 30 Awards in 2022 – Ms Singh realised, while studying under lecturers such as Stuart Murray, that one does not have to take up the more traditional roles in commercial law firms upon graduating in order to make a difference.

She credits her studies at Bond for this: “It really opened my mind to other options.”

Supporting clients who are ‘subject to very real threats to their lives’
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