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Development Policy Centre presents

The Nauru dilemma

Public seminar


17th October 2016


Acton Theatre, Level 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Paul Ronalds, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children Australia



When asked by then Immigration Minister Tony Burke to provide services to asylum seeker children on Nauru in 2013, Save the Children was faced with a clear dilemma. The Government’s policy was a clear breach of international law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. If Save the Children provided services, there was a risk that it may be considered complicit in that breach. On the other hand, Save the Children had significant experience working with refugees and asylum seekers in camps around the world and was confident it could mitigate some of the immediate humanitarian need and have a positive influence on the conditions on Nauru. From August 2013 to October 2015, Save the Children was contracted by the Australian Government to provide welfare, education and recreation services to asylum seekers in Nauru. Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children, will discuss how Save the Children sought to negotiate the dilemmas it faced to ensure it was always acting ‘in the best interests of children’.

Paul Ronalds is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Save the Children Australia. He is also currently a non-executive director of the Centre For Social Impact, the Campbell Collaboration and the Community Council of Australia. Prior to joining Save the Children, Paul was First Assistant Secretary responsible for the Office of Work and Family in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Paul has also worked as Deputy CEO of World Vision and as chief operating officer of Urban Seed, an innovative and dynamic NGO that provides a range of services to marginalised people in Melbourne’s inner city. He started his career as a corporate lawyer with international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills before co-founding Paul is a graduate of the St James Ethics Centre’s Vincent Fairfax Fellowship in Ethics and Leadership and has degrees in economics and law with honours from Monash University, a graduate diploma in applied finance and a masters in international relations from Deakin University. He is the author of The Change Imperative: Creating a Next Generation NGO, a book that examines the organisational challenges faced by international NGOs in a rapidly evolving global political context.

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