Max Walden

PhD Candidate

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Max Walden is a PhD candidate at the Asian Law Centre, Melbourne Law School. He researches refugee rights in Indonesia with a socio-legal interest in the role of civil society organisations in what is the world’s third-largest democracy. Max's scholarship is provided under the Australian Research Council-funded project "Indonesia's refugee policies: responsibility, security and regionalism" led by Professor Susan Kneebone. His interests include human rights, migration, Islam, democracy and Asian politics.

Max is a member of the PhD Program in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies through the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and of the Kaldor Emerging Scholars Network. He has formerly worked as a Research Assistant with the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre at the University of Sydney and as a journalist in Southeast Asia for several years. He has worked extensively with refugees including as an educational equity researcher at Macquarie University.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced)(Hons Class 1) in History and a Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific Regional Program), both from the University of Sydney. Max’s honours thesis analysed the Australian news media's representation of Vietnamese refugees during the late 1970s and Masters research focused on the Jesuit Refugee Service’s work in Indonesia.

Thesis Title

Where to now, if anywhere? The role of international NGOs and grassroots civil society actors in advocating on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia

Thesis Summary

The thesis analyses the role of civil society organisations in bridging a gap in rights and services for refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia. Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has scant legal provisions concerning asylum seekers and refugees. While most of the roughly 14,000 irregular migrants in the archipelago face lengthy periods of ‘transit’, they are typically unable to work, access quality healthcare or undertake education beyond a primary level. My research considers the significance of civil society organisations, particularly those that are refugee-led, in the fulfilment of refugee rights in Indonesia.


  • Refugee Law