Seed Funding

Seed Funding Round One

In mid-2018, the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative invited proposals for interdisciplinary research projects to begin late in the same year. Applicants applied for a maximum of $10,000 with the goal of providing start-up funding for developing larger project ideas. Projects are to be completed by October 2019.

The objective of the Seed Funding Scheme is to increase cross-disciplinary academic collaboration on statelessness across the University of Melbourne and with external partners. The Scheme serves as an incubator for developing and upscaling small-to-medium sized interdisciplinary research projects that show significant potential for future funding by granting bodies. The Scheme provides support to research teams with the aim of generating new knowledge and insights on topics broadly related to statelessness, citizenship and identity.

Successful Projects

The Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative is pleased to be supporting the following projects:

Legal identity under rebel governance
UoM: CI Bart Klem (Arts); Marika Sosnowski (Arts).
External: Katharine Fortin (Utrecht University)

This project aims to strengthen understanding of the legal identity of people living within rebel-controlled territory in civil war. It examines how non-state governance providers are documenting the life-cycle events of people who inhabit the areas they control as well as how these rebel-run bureaucratic systems often have overlap with – or are ‘parasitic’ on – the registration systems of the state they contest. Additionally, the registration of civilians’ legal identity can have wide-ranging ramifications: from basic acknowledgement of one’s existence, access to humanitarian relief, risk of extortion and forced recruitment. Through convening a working group of scholars and hosting a workshop, the project hopes to deepen (in terms of the details of how legal identity of citizens is constructed) and broaden (thinking more critically through themes and concepts relevant to international law, statelessness, rebel governance and citizenship in wartime) previous academic and policy efforts in this area.

A Place to Call Home - A project examining the legal needs, complexities and gaps experienced by stateless children of refugee and asylum seeker background in Australia
UoM: CI John Tobin (Law)
External: Katie Robertson (Project Lead, Maurice Blackburn)

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 parents. Although these children have a right to apply for citizenship under domestic and international law, they face barriers in navigating this complex process. This project will explore the legal needs, complexities and gaps experienced by stateless asylum-seeker children in acquiring Australian citizenship. Active claims for citizenship will be examined to inform a scoping report outlining how the legal needs of these children may be best addressed and providing human insight into the challenges experienced by stateless children and their families. The report will identify areas for further research and cross-sector collaboration.

Building institutional capacity for regional migration governance after the Andaman Sea crisis: Collective problems and competing norms
UoM: CI Adrian Little (Arts); Terry Macdonald (Arts);
External: Centre for Policy Development (CPD); Matthew Gibney (Oxford)

The Asia-Pacific region is now witnessing significant political momentum towards international cooperation in building institutional capacity for the governance of irregular migration, and associated security and humanitarian problems. This is motivated in part by regional political crises surrounding forced migration of Rohingya people from Myanmar – in particular the 2015 Andaman Sea crisis, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis for stateless populations in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Regional governments have called for expanded ‘coordination’ and ‘capacity-building’ to support effective governance responses to these shared problems. But institutionalizing such governance capacity requires more than recognition of a collective regional problem; it further requires agreement on authoritative institutional norms – for structuring authority relationships, decision-making processes, resource allocations, and policy priorities, within a regional migration governance regime. And at present, it remains politically controversial which are the authoritative norms in this governance space: human rights, humanitarianism, rule of law, sovereign territorial rights, and more specific international treaty norms, compete for political recognition as organizing principles for regional migration governance institutions. This project aims to develop an analytical framework for mapping and critically assessing these controversies, in collaboration with policy analysts at the Centre for Policy Development. In doing so it will consider: what competing institutional norms do regional governments and stakeholders invoke as appropriate organizing principles for migration governance institutions? And on what principled basis could these normative disputes be resolved, to facilitate the development of stronger regional migration governance capacity?

Voices of Statelessness: Laying the foundations and principles for a digital archive of testimonies about statelessness in Australia
UoM: CI Timnah Baker (Law)
External: Michael Green & Andre Dao (Behind the Wire)

The Voices of Statelessness project is the first phase in a multi-platform digital archive of statelessness in Australia, for stateless people to represent their own stories and carve out a space for a community interface with statelessness. This project will establish the principles and methodology for building a digital archive of testimonies from stateless people. It represents a reconceptualisation of traditional archiving, drawing on principles from participatory archives and engaging with contemporary discourses from the digital humanities. Behind the Wire will create a mini-archive of four oral histories, to be published on the Behind the Wire website. The process of creating these oral testimonies of statelessness will be evaluated alongside contemporary academic and practitioner practices working in the realms of statelessness, storytelling and archives. This first phase will enable vital practical and ethical questions to be addressed and ensure that the proposed Voices of Statelessness Archive meets ‘best practice’ standards and the diverse needs of researchers and communities alongside researchers.

Performing Statelessness
UoM: CI Danny Butt (Fine Arts); Ruth DeSouza (Fine Arts)
External: Tania Canas (RISE Refugees); Genevieve Grieves (Museums Victoria)

How is the condition of statelessness experienced and performed in everyday life? How do the ways stateless peoples collectively perform connect to or depart from normative aspirations to public participation in a settler-colonial democratic nation such as Australia? Are there opportunities for exploring how the conditions of statelessness experienced by Indigenous Australians and refugee and asylum-seeker communities can be comparatively articulated for the benefit of these communities? Using practice-led research methods informed by performance techniques, this pilot project stages a unique encounter between practicing artists who identify as having an asylum seeker, refugee and/or First Nation background, toward innovative interventions into culturally responsive methods in artistic research.

Children of ‘Cross Border Marriages’ and Nationality in Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam: Degrees of Statelessness
UoM: CI Lan Anh Hoang (Arts); Susan Kneebone (Law); Brandais York (Law); Sayomi Ariyawansa (Law)
External: Ho Chi Minh Law University, Vietnam

This project investigates the status, rights and identity of bi-racial children of returned marriage migrants in the in the Can Tho region, Mekong Delta, Vietnam to formulate coherent legislative and policy responses to problems caused by gaps in law and policy.  The consequences of ‘cross border marriages’ on the bi-racial children of such marriages is under-researched.  Our preliminary research indicates that the status of such children ranges from dual nationality to lack of effective nationality and statelessness.  In Vietnam there is no coherent legislative or policy responses to the issue; implementation is often dependent on inconsistent application of local discretion which often results in parties taking the law into their own hands through fraudulent acts.  
We will consolidate previous data collected with views from a wide range of stakeholders (government, international organisations and local academics), in a report to be presented to a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in mid-2019.

The Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative Seed Funding Scheme is run annually. We expect Round 2 to open mid- 2019. For queries about the scheme, please contact law-statelessness@unimelb.edu.au.