Viktoria Vibhakar, L.C.S.W., Ph.D, will talk about the child protection failures and mental harm she witnessed as a child protection supervisor for Save the Children Australia in Nauru, one of Australia’s off-shore detention centres. 


The event will take place around lunchtime on Tuesday 27 November 2018, 12:30pm, Seminar room F - Oxford Faculty of Law.


About the event: 

Viktoria will speak about the child protection failures and mental harm she witnessed as a child protection supervisor for Save the Children Australia in 2013-14 working in Nauru. The Nauru Regional Processing Centre is an off-shore Australian immigration detention facility, located on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru. Australia’s policy of deterrence stops people attempting to come to Australia by boat for the purpose of claiming asylum by detaining them in off-shore facilities and refusing to allow them to ever resettle in Australia. The off-shore detention facility in Nauru has detained unaccompanied minors, families, and unaccompanied adults since 2013.  
It has been shrouded in secrecy, denying access to most journalists and requiring all employees to sign deeds of non-disclosure and subjecting them to potential imprisonment for disclosing information about the facility. Nevertheless, a number of former health professionals have spoken out about the unsafe conditions there. 
Viktoria will also talk about her experience as the first Save the Children Australia whistle blower, and the mental health impacts of detention. This talk will further explore complicity and ethical dilemmas present and often unexamined while working in Australia’s off-shore detention facilities.    


Discussion and Q&A will be led by Jessica Oddy, a PhD student at UEL, focusing on adolescents experiences of education in displacement. Jess has spent the last 7 years as an education in emergencies practitioner , working in complex humanitarian settings including South Sudan, Iraq, Uganda, Jordan, Greece, Ethiopia, CAR and Colombia. 


About the speaker: 

Viktoria completed her PhD with the University of Queensland, Faculty of Medicine in child mental health, focusing on children and trauma. She was previously a senior child protection worker at Save the Children Australia working with refugees in Nauru, one of Australia’s off-shore detention centres. 

Viktoria was the first Save the Children worker to speak out and expose the cover-up of systematic child abuse and the lack of appropriate child protection systems in Nauru in 2014. Since then, the Australian-funded detention facility has been found to be in violation of the Convention against Torture by the UN. In 2015, Viktoria presented evidence on systematic child abuse and extensive human rights violations to an Australian parliamentary inquiry. Most notably, she was invited to speak on the mental and physical harm she witnessed at Nauru at the 2017 Women in the World Summit in New York City. She has more than 20 years of clinical social work experience in child mental health, international field work, public health policy, and academia and is a subject matter expert on children and trauma. Her research focuses on the expression of post-traumatic stress in children.  


Sandwich lunch will be provided. All are welcome, no RSVP is needed.


The Refugee and Migration Discussion Group also welcomes offers to present papers or other work-in-progress to the group or to lead discussion. Please do contact one of the convenors if you are interested in talking to the group or if you have an idea for an informal discussion.


The group’s co-convenors are Maayan Ravid ( Büchsel (, Emilie McDonnell ( and Maeve Moynihan ( Our Senior Member is Professor Cathryn Costello


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We are looking forward to seeing you at the event!


Best wishes, 


Maayan, Teresa, Emilie and Maeve