Playfair Visa and Migration Services is one of the leading providers to the Australian Government in relation to the provision of legal advice and assistance to asylum seekers requiring Refugee Status Determination (RSD).
RSD is the process by which asylum seekers have their claims for international protection assessed by the relevant governing authority. In conjunction with the establishing of identity, RSD is the ﬁrst stage in ﬁnding durable solutions for those persons displaced from their home countries.
The assessment of refugee status usually entails the applicant lodging a complete application in the format required by the assessing authority, including a full statement of the reasons why the applicant is seeking international protection.
PLAYFAIR has extensive experience working both in offshore detention facilities and on the Australian mainland.
Our professional staff have the knowledge and experience to apply international refugee law and appropriate human rights conventions to the domestic jurisdictions in which the asylum seeker lodged an application. We specialize in working with vulnerable groups of asylum seekers who are detained in remote and challenging conditions.
Critical numbers and RSD experience
The Government of Australia currently has a policy of transferring asylum seekers who are Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals to offshore facilities based in either Papua New Guinea or Nauru. PLAYFAIR has been contracted by the Australian Government as the exclusive provider of claims assistance to approximately 1,300 single men held in the Province of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
In this environment PLAYFAIR provides advice and assistance under a combination of international law and domestic Papua New Guinean law. The offshore working environment is premised on a crisis management approach, in which frequently changing political decisions require an immediate and ﬂexible response in the provision of such assistance. In this regard PLAYFAIR has gained valuable experience in maintaining a high degree of ﬂexibility to accommodate changing requirements coming from both the top (the government) and the bottom (the reality of the ‘frontline’).
PLAYFAIR has also provided advice and assistance under international refugee law to more than 2,500 asylum seekers in the isolated environment of Christmas Island, a small territory situated in the Indian Ocean over 2,000 kilometres from the Australian mainland. This is an environment with multiple challenges, including limited communications and infrastructure.
Currently there are approximately 30,000 asylum seekers with unresolved refugee status in Australia. PLAYFAIR has a major role assisting these people to obtain ﬁnal determination of their immigration status. While some of these people are in immigration detention, the majority are now out of detention and are living and working in the community.
PLAYFAIR’s onshore work is executed under a combination of government contracts, private fee-paying clients and pro-bono representation. PLAYFAIR currently holds an Australian Government contract to assist the 5,000 most vulnerable members of the asylum seeker cohort.
Chief Executive Officer
In 1988 Petra established the Sydney head office of the Playfair Visa and Migration Services firm to provide humanitarian visa and migration services. Since then she also established the following International offices:
- Greece (2017 – present)
- Papua New Guinea (2013 – present)
- Hong Kong (1994 – 1999)
- Indonesia (1999 – 2003)
- China (1994 – 1999)
Since 1981 Petra has worked with national and international organisations and their governments to assist asylum seekers through the legal process of applying for Determination of Refugee Status, as well as assisting recognised refugees with resettlement.
In response to the Indochinese refugee crisis, Petra applied this experience when negotiating between two countries to link services. This included work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and International Social Service at reception points and detention centres hosted by South East Asian governments, and involved assisting large numbers of people fleeing Vietnam by boat.
She has also assisted unaccompanied children to transition and resettle successfully into Australia. Whilst working for the International Social Service General Secretariat, based in Geneva, Petra undertook cross-cultural research on identity development for children facing forced migration. This work facilitated legislative change in Australia to ensure that the administrative and welfare procedures followed respected all provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since 2001, as PLAYFAIR’s CEO, she has been managing contracts with the Australian Government to provide Refugee Status Determination advice and assistance in Australia’s detention centres, jails, hospitals and community based organisations.
Since 2013 Petra has been in an ongoing dialogue with the Papua New Guinea Government in order to draft and implement Refugee Status Determination policy and law.
Head of International Humanitarian Projects
Registered Migration Agent
RSD Experience: Since 2011
- Papua New Guinea (2013 -Present)
Number of Detention Centres worked in: 6
Nick has a Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law and has provided advice and assistance in the preparation of numerous claims for refugee determination, representation of applicants during the assessment of their applications, preparation of Merits Review applications, representation of applicants at Merits Review hearings, provision of written and oral supporting submissions, assessment of ﬁles for judicial review applications, management of RSD teams working offshore, including dealing with welfare, legal and operational matters relevant to remote and fast-changing environments.
Nick has acted as the liaison between PLAYFAIR and representatives of the Government of Papua New Guinea in relation to the management and progress of the RSD process on Manus Island. This ensures that individual applications for asylum are accurately documented and clients receive expert representation in complex matters under both international and domestic refugee and migration law.
Nick has experience in crisis management, including working in detention centre environments in which asylum seekers are at a high level of anxiety, frustration and volatility.
Registered Migration Agent
RSD Experience: Since 2005
- Papua New Guinea
Number of Detention Centres worked in: 13
Vanessa has worked with the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Authority to assist with establishing their domestic RSD process. In addition to representing PLAYFAIR at workshops and meetings of executive members of the Australian Department of Immigration, she has also worked closely with Non-Government Organisations which assist asylum seekers in New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Given her extensive experience in this area, Vanessa is regularly invited to take on an advisory role with Australian Government departments and Non-Government Organisations in relation to the development of policy designed to assist migrants who are victims of domestic violence.
Vanessa has eleven years of continuous service representing clients who have suffered torture and trauma. She has acquired a wide body of country-speciﬁc knowledge that reﬂects the cohort of asylum-seeker clients she has represented. Vanessa has experience representing clients at both the primary RSD stage and through the appeals process. Her extensive travel and deployment to remote Detention Centres across Australia means she has extensive experience working in a fast-paced environment, often where work conditions can be rudimentary.
RSD Experience: Since 2010
Offshore countries worked in:
- Papua New Guinea
Number of Detention Centres worked in: 8
Kevin has consulted with the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority (ICSA) at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (RPC), in his capacity as Senior Team Leader. He has made a contribution to the drafting of Papua New Guinea’s Refugee Status Determination guidelines and continues to act as PLAYFAIR’s chief liaison, working with Papua New Guinea Government ofﬁcers to introduce new immigration procedures and policies. This role has involved liaising directly with the management of the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority based at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. Kevin’s liaison role will continue as Papua New Guinea introduces new immigration policy benchmarked against the internationally recognised standards applicable to implementing the UN Refugee Convention.
Kevin has represented many clients at the primary interview stage and has assisted those clients with the preparation of applications including statements of claims in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Kevin has extensive experience in preparing legal submissions in relation to applications for Merits Review at the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal (now Administrative Appeals Tribunal), as well as representing clients at interviews at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and before review panels in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. Kevin has also prepared submissions for clients appealing directly to the Minister of Immigration to assist in the resolution of complex and unusual cases.
Prior to Kevin’s involvement with PLAYFAIR he had a career of over 30 years as a senior lawyer in the New South Wales public service specialising in the management of the provision of legal services to major infrastructure projects.