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Joanna Abraham, Melbourne, Australia

MEET Joanna Abraham, an Immigration & Refugee Lawyer from Victoria, Australia. You will see that she just LOVES people! She works with migrants from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, refugees and asylum seekers, victims of family violence, and those facing the prospect of visa cancellation or deportation.

She has been a finalist for Migration Law in the Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards, as well as the John Gibson Award (Young Migration Lawyer of the Year), and most recently in 2020 – she has been nominated as a finalist in the Lawyers Weekly – Women in Law Awards as Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, as well as the Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence in the Justice category.

Being a migrant and cultural hybrid herself, Joanna is passionate about championing diversity, both in the legal profession and wider community, as well as challenging stereotypes. Being of Indian heritage – a mixture of both South and North Indian, Joanna is linguistically diverse, speaking both Tamil and Hindi, as well as bit of Korean (she blames those amazing Korean dramas for that particular obsession)! She is happiest when she is either singing, eating (dessert is always welcome!) or working with the community. Joanna sits on the Board of Afri-Aus Care and the Victorian Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC) and is also the Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at the Victorian Women’s Lawyers (VWL).

She is a Practitioner Mentor for aspiring lawyers through the College of Law (Victoria), volunteers with the Professional Migrant Women’s Group and has been a mentor at the Diverse Women’s Mentoring Association and Melbourne Law School. She is passionate about ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our society have access to justice and legal advice, and has enjoyed volunteering with the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre, the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and Salvos Legal.

She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Monash University, and a Juris Doctor in Law from Melbourne University. Love in Law: Joanna says that the best aspect about working in refugee and immigration law , is the fact that this area of law has ‘people’ at the very heart of it; individuals, families and communities.

Being a migrant herself, she have experienced firsthand through her family’s migration journey, the resoundingly positive impact love and kindness can have when dealing with each individual. As such, in her practise, she don’t just view the people sitting across from her as clients, but rather, approaches each task and everyone she meets, with the view that there is always something to be learnt from it, and that everyone has a story to tell – no matter how big or small.

She bring loves into the law by always seeing the person behind the legal issue, by practising empathy for clients who have been separated from loved ones for years on end, because she myself have been through this. By sharing parts of her culture and story in response to them opening up to her, and by doing simple things like checking the correct pronunciation of their names. By ensuring that she create a safe space for them to share their stories of trauma and hope for the future, and making sure they know she's in the fight with them, that they are both seen and heard, and that their stories matter.

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