MIA Honours & Awards List

Each year the MIA recognises outstanding individuals who promote and enhance the migration profession and the Institute.

Nominations for these six prestigious awards, as well as the pinnacle MIA Life Membership, are open to the membership, to be considered by the Institute's Awards Committee.

Three MIA Awards - Distinguished Service to Australian Immigration; Outstanding Coverage of Migration in the Media; MIA Student of the Year Award - are also open annually to nominations from the wider community.


This is the pinnacle award of the MIA. It is a rare acknowledgement of a worthy and lasting bond with the Institute.

Life Members:

  • Brenton Halligan

    Brenton Halligan has contributed to the development, growth and sustainability of the organisation over many years of service. Without his enduring contributions the MIA wouldn't be the organisation it is today.

    He was admitted to practice as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and High Court of Australia on 3rd December 1976 and has practised in general law including criminal, commercial and personal injury law for many years.

    He was a foundation member of the Australian Migration Consultations Association (AMCA) and participated with foundation AMCA members such as Stirling Henny, the late John Gillespie, Peter van der Kwaak and Angela Chan to formulate a Code of Conduct for members.

    Brenton was a foundation member of the MIA (Member No 10) and thereafter participated in the MIA affairs including the State branch committee, at one time serving as Vice President (NSW).

    He has acted in a mentor role to new agents and provided practical legal training for law graduates to qualify as Solicitors and encouraged interest in such lawyers undertaking practice in Migration Law making long term experience available to new practitioners

Past Recipients:

  • Len Holt
  • James Barr
  • Michael Bonney
  • Ray Brown
  • Laurette Chao
  • John Gillespie*
  • Dick Glazbrook
  • Stirling Henry
  • Neil Hitchcock
  • David Jolly
  • Vera Poole


This award is for outstanding contribution in the area of CPD or Education. Henry Giblett was an outstanding teacher who became a Migration Agent prior to the establishment of the MIA and took a foundation interest in CPD courses for the migration advice profession. This award celebrates his contribution.

This year there are two awards in this category:

  • George Lombard
  • Lachlan Riches

Both George and Lachlan have contributed enormously to the MIA’s education programmes in our Continuing Professional Development Courses, in our Practice Ready Program for newly registered agents, and in our Immigration Essential for Lawyers courses.

Their professional involvement, ready availability and innovative improvements to our programmes are greatly appreciated by the MIA and course participants. They are true educators and their willingness to mentor and advise members is an exemplar for the profession.

Past winners

  • 2014 Gunter Eitzinger
  • 2014 Helen Duncan
  • 2013 Lester Ong
  • 2012 Professor Mary Crock
  • 2011 Kerry Murphy
  • 2010 Peter Bollard
  • 2009 Jennifer Burn
  • 2008 Vicki Perrett
  • 2007 David Moss
  • 2002 Andrew Cope


This award is for significant and sustained service to members. Deidre Sheekey worked for the MIA from 1998-2007, initially as the sole employee. Dedication, knowledge and commitment to members were the hallmarks of her service to the MIA. This award celebrates her contribution.

This year the award goes to Bronwyn Markey

The good work that Bronwyn does is summed up by the member who nominated her. He said:

I am legally blind and engaged the MIA before completing the required Migration Agents course. I am also a lawyer and own a couple of companies – so believe I have a reasonable ability to communicate, network and engage people on a professional and personal level.

I generally feel the resistance of members/staff to engage me when face to face, but it is common when people don’t know what to say. I think this is also a general approach to new members who are not in the ‘inner circle’, unless they have Bronwyn’s attitude.

Regardless, Bronwyn is the type of person who uses common sense and does not need to be told what or how to be…. It is the case if Bronwyn does not know something she asks, rather than making assumptions or ignoring the situation.

Bronwyn is deserving of recognition for her approach to new members, members with ‘issues’ and the way she promotes the MIA generally.

Past winners

  • 2014 Jacqui Ure
  • 2013 Josh Bedwell
  • 2012 Kevin Lane
  • 2012 Jemma Still
  • 2011 Brian Jones
  • 2011 Stephen Sinclair
  • 2010 Steven O'Neil
  • 2008 Pieter van der Kwaak
  • 2007 Stirling Henry
  • 2007 John Gillespie*


This award, supported by the ANU College of Law, is presented to an individual or group who, provides pro-bono advice and or/represents clients in cases where the client has no other access to advice and/or the client's case raises a wider issue of public interest.

This year’s awardee is Anna Copeland

Anna is the Director of Clinical Legal Education and a Senior Lecturer at Murdoch University. She has been a registered migration agent and legal practitioner for over 15 years.

Anna teaches and supervises law students and law graduates at the Murdoch University legal clinic which is run through SCALES Community Legal Centre. Her area of practice is broadly human rights. She also teaches Refugee Law to students in Geneva as part of Murdoch University’s successful international human rights program which she has been instrumental in developing and running over the last 5 years.

As part of her work at SCALES she has been responsible for running a caseload in the area of migration and refugee law. She has focussed on taking on cases in relation to a variety of migration areas representing the most vulnerable people. She has represented clients for protection visas, refugee and humanitarian visas, partner visas amongst others. She has taken several cases to the Federal Court on important issues such as safe third country.

Anna often will take on cases which appear to be at the end of the road in terms of legal options and she has advocated fiercely on cases that have literally been going for decades without resolution. She has worked on numerous complex and difficult cases – due to time constraints the nominator has not had time to gather quotes from clients on how grateful they have been to the work Anna has done where she has literally changed their lives for the better.

Anna has done important work on advocacy and law reform as well and has worked on a number of law reform submissions in relation to migration legislation.

Anna is an outstanding teacher and mentor. While she has been teaching at the clinic it has won many accolades both for its teaching and its practice. SCALES won the National Human Rights Award (Law Category) awarded by the Australian Human Rights Commission, a High Commendation in the Premier’s Awards for Excellence, a Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Enhanced Learning, a citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, the Western Australian Consumer Protection Award for Organisational Achievement and in 2013 SCALES was once again nominated for the National Human Rights Award for our Human Rights Clinic.

As a teacher and legal practitioner her enthusiasm and energy engages students but it is also providing the meaningful work, such as in the area of migration and refugee law, that students do for real clients which transforms them from students focused on what grade they will get at the end of the semester into responsible and reflective legal practitioners. Anna mentors students to develop their own abilities, giving them a confidence that they can think for themselves, they can reflect and learn and develop and go forward to become the kind of legal practitioners they want to be. Through this work she has been able to develop in them practitioners who see their role as one which includes justice and service to the broader community, particularly those less fortunate.

Many students who have done SCALES have gone on to work in the area of human rights and also migration law. She has fostered a very dedicated Alumni Recently SCALES has started up a ‘legacy caseload clinic’ offering pro bono advice and assistance to asylum seekers who are going through the Fast Track Assessment process. As part of this clinic SCALES was able to rapidly draw upon alumni to come forward to provide assistance. This is a testament to the work and inspiration that Anna has become to her students.

Past Winners

  • 2014 Human Rights Law Centre
  • 2013 Refugee Advice and Casework Service
  • 2012 David Manne and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre


This award marks a special contribution being made by an MIA Member or MIA Member's company to and for the MIA and its membership and is offered for services provided voluntarily to advance the migration profession and the objects of the Institute.

This year the award goes to Helen Duncan

Helen Duncan has been a registered migration agents since 2000. She has served on the Queensland Branch Committee and on the MIA Board.

Helen has always been a great CPD presenter and has run our Practice Ready Program in Brisbane since its inception and provides advice and mentoring to members. She is also a valued teacher in the ANU’s Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice.

This award recognises Helen’s passion for ensuring that migration agents are equipped with the practical skills to assist clients.

Past winners

  • 2014 Maree Elliott
  • 2013 John Hourigan
  • 2012 Helen Friedmann
  • 2012 Jonathan Granger
  • 2012 Chris White
  • 2011 Jane Elliot
  • 2010 David Moss
  • 2010 Arnold Conyer


This award is presented to an individual who has provided continuing service and participation in a field which contributes to Australian immigration, made a significant and noteworthy contribution to Australian immigration, and made a contribution which should be recognised by their peers or the wider community.

This year two awards have been made in this category:

1. Dr Jamal Rifi

Dr Rifi arrived in Australia in 1984. Despite facing challenges with the English language, he successfully completed his studies and qualified as a medical practitioner. Over the years he has earned the respect and admiration of his patients.

Dr Rifi’s generous nature and desire to give back to this country led him to become involved in serving the community, particularly in the areas of youth, family and community development.

He was a founding member of Muslim Doctors Against violence and the Christian Muslim Fellowship Society. His efforts to build harmony between Muslims and non-Muslim communities have been recognised with a Human Rights Medal.

Dr Rifi is a former member of the NSW Medical Advisory Board and a community representative for the Youth Partnership with Arabic Speaking Communities.

As the President of the Lakemba Sports Club he has used sport to build bridges between communities and channel young people’s energies into positive activities. He trained the first group of youth from south-western Sydney to become volunteer pool guards, and was instrumental in establishing a programme, called On the Same Wave, to recruit and train Muslim youth as lifesavers at the Cronulla beaches. He also encourages young people to join the State Emergency Service, and in so many ways helps them to take positive career paths.

Dr Rifi recognised what was happening with disenfranchised Muslim youth years ago and started working then to try to do something about it. He is widely acknowledged for his work in trying to prevent the radicalisation of young people in Sydney.

Dr Rifi is always a voice of good sense and wisdom as he strives to have Australians united through shared values.

The boy who studied by candlelight in Tripoli as bombs rained down has become a man who is an inspiration to all Australians.

2. Professor Graeme Hugo

This is a posthumous award, as Professor Hugo sadly passed away earlier this year.

Graeme Hugo was a University Professorial Fellow and Professor of Geography at the University of Adelaide. His specialist field was migration studies.

In 2012 he was awarded the civil honour of Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia in recognition of his distinguished service to population research, particularly the study of international migration, population geography and mobility, and through leadership roles with national and international organisations.

Professor Hugo’s was internationally recognised as a population geographer and demographer whose research and persuasive arguments about social policy had an impact well beyond Australia.

Professor Hugo had a long association with the Migration Institute of Australia and many of you will recall his addresses to our conferences and it is fitting that we honour his work with this award.

Award Recipients:

  • 2013 Father Frank Brennan AO
  • 2012 Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AO
  • 2012 Rt Hon Gough Whitlam QC AO
  • 2011 Pino Migliorino
  • 2010 John Gibson*
  • 2009 Andrew Bartlett


This award reflects the importance the media plays in informing and educating the community about migration and immigration issues. It is for a journalist, writer, publisher or broadcaster who has made a significant contribution to public discussion on migration.

This year the award is given to:

  • Adele Ferguson, a journalist with the Guardian
  • ABC 4 Corners
  • Fairfax media

This award is for their investigations into the exploitation of 7-Eleven migrant workers.

Past Winners

  • 2014 Heather Kirkpatrick - Mary meets Mohammad
  • 2012 The journalists of The Australian's Higher Education section
  • 2011 The directors, producers and journalists of the Special Broadcasting Service's Go Back to Where You Came From and Immigration Nation
  • 2010 Peter Mares - National Interest (Radio National - ABC)


This award recognises the achievement of a student who has completed studies during the previous 12 months in a discipline relating to migration and or legal studies.

Award Recipient:

  • 2014 Blaise Itabelo (Griffith University)

    Blaise was born in 1988 in Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of ten children. He spent over 15 years in a refugee camp in Tanzania and completed both primary and high school in the camp. He won a highly competitive UNHCR scholarship and was able to leave the camp and study a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Relations in Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania. He eventually came to Australia on 26 October 2011.

    He undertook the Graduate Certificate in Migration Law and Practice whilst working full time and supporting his wife and two children, one newborn. He has been heavily involved with community organisations and associations in his work and as a volunteer:
    Works as a Community Development Officer for ACCESS Community Services Ltd as CAMS (Community Action for Multicultural Society) He works closely to settle new community members mostly from a CALD background around Logan and Ipswich. His role includes delivery of a range of community development activities and projects that foster social inclusion and cohesion within the local community.

    Member of Consumer Engagement Advisory Group of Logan and Beaudesert Hospitals Member (Volunteer), Public Relations Officer, Congolese Community Association of Queensland (Volunteer), Secretary, Emo ‘ya Mmbondo (Volunteer) A Community Association representing Congolese from South-kivu province. Coordinator at Access Men’s shed (Volunteer) A safe and friendly environment for men. Predominantly new arrivals from refugee and migrant backgrounds to help them meet together in the community, to practice their English through social conversation and learn new skills.

    Since graduating he has been setting up a pro bono immigration and refugee practice in collaboration with his employers at ACCESS.

    Blaise outlines his motivation to become Migration Agent as follows:
    “We paid an Agent for our application, and from that time I had a feeling that there must be a lot of people in the community that cannot afford this fee and are in need of migration advice and/or service. Since I came from a large family and live here with only my wife and my two kids and have the rest of my siblings in a refugee camp, I know how other people can feel when they are trying to get a family member to Australia and cannot afford to pay someone to help them. Working with a settlement agency, I constantly come across people going through depression and stress because they do not know what to do to bring their family members to Australia. This motivated me to study the course and be able to make a difference to someone’s life.”

    The MIA believes Blaise exhibits extraordinary personal qualities which make an exceptional asset to the migration industry. We are very proud of Blaise's contribution and believe that the MIA Student of the Year Award would be a just reward for his efforts.

    Past winners
  • 2013 Michael Simmons (Victoria University)
  • 2012 Rachael Adolphe (Australian National University)
  • 2011 Daniel Ghezelbash (University of Sydney)