Meet the innovators – Among them, Marina Brizar of PLAYFAIR Visa & Migration Services

The LSJ speaks to eight trailblazing lawyers who are leaning into the future with fresh ideas and fire in the belly. They are doers, thinkers and visionaries: the people you want to be, who have ideas you need to know about. One of them is Marina Brizar of PLAYFAIR Visa & Migration Services. Melissa Coade writes:

Marina Brizar, a young lawyer from Sydney, is exploring how labour mobility could bolster Australia’s immigration framework and change the way we think about refugees.

Marina knows all too well the impact of war and civil unrest. Aged five and living with her parents and two brothers in a refugee camp in Croatia, she recognised the power that a UNHCR caseworker had over their destiny.

“I had this sense that the person who was there in front of us could change the direction of my life. That really resonated with me,” Marina says.

“When we reunited with my dad [who had been caught up in the 1993 Siege of Sarajevo], he said he had dreams of going to the beach with his kids. That’s how we chose Australia. We had no ties, no English language, nothing like that.”

When her family was accepted to permanently settle as refugees in Sydney, Marina remained fascinated by how and why they were able to start their new lives in Australia. She went on to study law and international studies, and the child-refugee turned immigration-lawyer, is now making her mark on the lives of countless other migrants.

2018 was a big year for Marina Brizar, who visited Syria with former Australian senator Jacqui Lambie as part of the SBS documentary-reality show Go Back to Where You Came From. She was also awarded a Churchill Fellowship, which will see her spend eight weeks travelling to Canada, Germany, Jordan, the UK and the US later this year. The purpose of her trip is to explore refugee programs that foster the positive impacts of migration.

“The project is trying to see how other countries are using migration programs to assist people from a refugee background and then using that to craft a potential product, a humanitarian talent or a humanitarian skills visa, which we may be able to apply to the Australian context,” Marina says.

“I am looking to create a visa that will bridge the gap between humanitarian migration and skilled migration. In Australia we only have those two categories – there is nothing in between.”

“I’m excited for Australia to be at the forefront of migration innovation and become a compassionate world leader in this space,” she says. “Hopefully something good comes out of this project.”

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