Kon Karapanagiotidis is the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. They assist over 5,000 people seeking asylum each year, with the help of over 1200 volunteers and 125 staff.
Kon grew up in a working-class family in a small country town in Victoria. His personal experience of racism and witnessing the exploitation of his parents in factories & farms planted the seeds for his passion for human rights. He started early, by volunteering at his first of 25 charities, a centre for homeless men at the age of 18, and went on to complete 6 degrees and become a lawyer, social worker, and teacher. Kon founded the ASRC at the age of 28.
His work has been recognised with over two dozen awards and honours including: an Order of Australia Medal (OAM), a Churchill Fellowship & finalist for Australian of The Year (Victoria) & the Human Rights Medal, as well as Citizen of the Year in his local community.
His memoir, The Power of Hope is published by HarperCollins Australia.
Historian Dr Claire Higgins is a Senior Research Associate at the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW, and the author of Asylum by Boat: Origins of Australia’s Refugee Policy. Claire has also written for The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald and Forbes, and she is currently a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
Claire holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, and was previously a visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute.