22 February 2017 : A newsletter of the Australian Jesuits

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Around the Works

Aussie volunteers for JRS in Cambodia


Lian Yong knew that spending her days zoning and planning would cause her to 'scratch her eyes out'. So she gave up the idea of environmental law and turned instead to her second passion: refugee and human rights law.


Lian, a Hobart native, recently replaced lawyer Taya Hunt as JRS Australia's representative in Phnom Penh, where she will work with the increasing numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Cambodia.


It was while working in her first job as an intellectual property lawyer that Lian decided to break the boredom and volunteer as a Mandarin interpreter at Refugee and Casework Services (RACS) in Sydney. Not long after she landed a job with Kerry Murphy, former JRS Country Coordinator, and his wife, Lisa D'Ambra, at D'Ambra Murphy Lawyers.


Lian subsequently applied for an Australian Youth Ambassador position in PNG, and spent a year working as a juvenile court liaison officer Goroka in the PNG highlands. 'I was situated in the district courts, working on juvenile law reform', she explains.


Her work with Kerry Murphy ensured that Lian was well-acquainted with JRS. 'I wanted to volunteer with JRS, to enrich my experience and see how things work on the ground. I went to a few volunteer sessions, but then I got the position in PNG!'


Having returned from PNG - and in light of a volunteering stint as an English teacher in Vietnam while at university - Lian jumped at the opportunity to work for JRS in Cambodia. She plans to use both her qualifications in Asian Studies and Law and her volunteer experiences in her new role.


'I did some casework on advocacy on the side in PNG and discovered I really love doing that, being an advocate and a voice for more disadvantaged people. It's really empowering. I'd like to continue doing that, and to do it in a developing country context.'



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