A Place to Call Home – Child Statelessness in Australia

This project examines the legal and administrative barriers stateless children in Australia face in obtaining Australian citizenship.

Children born on Australian soil are not guaranteed Australian citizenship. Citizenship is foundational to a child’s sense of identity and belonging, providing them with fundamental rights. Importantly, for children of refugees it can also offer security and safety; a place to call home. A significant but unknown number of children have been born in Australia to stateless asylum-seeker and refugee parents. Although these children have a right to apply for citizenship under domestic and international law, they face significant barriers in navigating this complex process.

This project explores the legal needs, complexities and gaps experienced by stateless asylum-seeker and refugee children in acquiring Australian citizenship. It aims to map the location and identity of these children in Australia and link them with specialized legal services, while also researching the challenges experienced by Australian legal practitioners in adequately assisting these children. The project also documents the lived experience of statelessness with the aim of providing human insight into the every-day challenges experienced by stateless children and their families.

This project is led by Centre Research Fellow Katie Robertson, and involves focused field-research in partnership with the Refugee Advice Casework Service, as well as desk-based research. We gratefully acknowledge the support of Professor John Tobin and the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative.

For more information about this project, please contact Katie Robertson – katie.robertson@unimelb.edu.au