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Nov 29, 2021

As a law student at ANU, Women on Boards member Fiona David was already tipped as “destined to work on social justice issues.”

This was later confirmed when Perth-born Fiona spent a short stint in corporate law which set her instead on an international path to social justice issues. As she tells Claire in this podcast, it was then she realised she could use her legal skills “without having to be a lawyer in the traditional sense”.

Now a leading lawyer, criminologist and specialist in modern slavery Fiona has worked for over two decades at the intersection of crime, law reform and human rights and in 2018 was appointed inaugural Research Chair of Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation. She has also written a book examining what governments can do in preventing and responding to people smuggling.

In this podcast, Fiona talks about her career journey - from being flung into the world of human trafficking in the Philippines with the UN in her mid-20s, advising the Attorney General’s department on its international human rights obligations in the Howard years, and helping Kenya improve its laws on people smuggling.

An expert on modern slavery she was also the first person appointed to Minderoo’s Walk Free Foundation leading the team that created the Global Slavery Index, 2014-2018, which provides date on prevalence and government responses to modern slavery in more than 160 countries.

She describes this as “an incredible opportunity to get in, and help shape the direction. Not just the direction of a project, not just the direction of a report, but the direction of a whole organization”.

Fiona’s is a fascinating career which has seen her travel to some of the most dangerous corners of the globe - from Tripoli and east Africa to most of south-east Asia - while listening to the heartbreaking personal stories of the victims of human trafficking.

As she says: “I am an adventurer deep in my heart. I feel very compelled to do what I can to help other people and to try and understand why people would put themselves in these incredibly risky situations. Why they got on boats in the horn of Africa, why they risked their lives crossing Sudan, why they risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean to try to get to Europe.”

LinkedIn: Fiona David | Claire Braund (host)

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