As an Immigration Lawyer, what does your role entail?
I assist clients on a wide array of immigration and family law matters including skilled, family-sponsored, business investment, and humanitarian visas, as well as domestic violence and international child abduction matters.
I have also undertaken policy advocacy work in the family and immigration law spheres, in response to the ‘gaps’ I identified for vulnerable clients seeking to access existing policy and legislation.
I co-authored submissions to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence which sought to inform the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. My advocacy here was driven by my observations of intersectional disadvantage faced by culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women in family violence matters, where I found that there are a lot of rigid requirements that aren’t adapting to today’s society.
Similarly, I co-authored submissions to the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, examining the legislating of coercive control in Ireland and the UK, and whether the re-conceptualisation of it as a criminal offence would be effective in Queensland as well.
In recognition of my contributions to, and performance in, migration law, I was shortlisted as a Finalist in the 2021 Australian Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30. I was also awarded the 2021 Queensland Day Award from Treasurer of Queensland and Minister for Investment, The Hon. Cameron Dick MP, in recognition of my legal work in the migration law space for those on temporary visas touched by domestic violence.
What has been the most rewarding case you have worked on?
A major undertaking of mine this past year, of which I am particularly proud, has been assisting government officials and UN personnel, in obtaining emergency humanitarian visas to Australia in light of the Taliban’s resurgence in August 2021. Many Australians sought assistance in evacuating their family members from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces, and it gives me immense satisfaction to say that I assisted several particularly ‘high-risk’ clients in securing emergency visas and assisted in facilitating several families’ evacuations from Afghanistan to Australia. Meeting these families in Australia and knowing that I played a small role in saving their lives, has undoubtedly been the highlight of the past year.
Can you tell us some more about the internship you completed with DARA (an independent non-profit organisation committed to improving the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian action for vulnerable populations affected by armed conflict and natural disasters), in Spain?
Following my graduation, I worked with Fundaciὀn Dara International in Madrid, conducting evaluations on the effectiveness of governments and regional actors in addressing issues of humanitarian concern. This, coupled with my degrees in law/international relations, sparked my desire to assist those most vulnerable members of the community. This was an incredible opportunity to work on the frontline of international humanitarian policy reform, and to do some travelling while I was there!
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself as an Accredited Specialist in Australian immigration law, where I am continuing to assist a plethora of clients from corporate entities to separated families. I hope to continue to seek to reform immigration law and policy to reflect the evolving fabric of Australian society. We are going to see some huge growth in this space with the Olympics coming up in Brisbane, and I am excited to see how Queensland prepares for this.
Thank you for volunteering to be a mentor for this year’s Grammar Women—Grammar Girls Mentoring Program. What motivated you to apply?
It sounded like a fantastic initiative and something I would have definitely participated in while I was in Year 11. I wanted to actively re-engage with the School and encourage students to make the most of all opportunities on offer so that they would have as amazing a School experience as I did.
I can honestly say that I got so much out of the sessions as well—I had almost forgotten how passionate Grammar is and listening to everyone speak about professional careers and seeking opportunities for progression, left me leaving each session so inspired. It definitely re-ignited those same feelings of motivation and drive that I left School with!
Finally, what advice would you give to a Grammar Woman who is considering studying law?
I would absolutely encourage them to pursue it. Law is such a valuable degree whether you choose to practise as a solicitor or to go into policy, governance, politics, or essentially any other area as the skills and knowledge are so transferrable. It governs everything we do in life and being equipped with this knowledge allows you to move forward with a sense of confidence.
Sarvashree was awarded the Dr Mary Mahoney AO Prize for Leadership at our 2022 Annual Speech Day and Distribution of Prizes.
This prize is awarded to a student or recent graduate who is a young woman of strength, integrity and humility and personifies the ideals of intellectual endeavour, women’s progress and authentic leadership.