Linda Bartolomei

Forced Migration Research Network
Senior Lecturer

Linda Bartolomei is a Senior Lecturer and  the a co-convener of Forced Migration Research Network (formerly the Centre for Refugee Research)  in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW. She lectures in Social and  Community Development and Refugee Studies in both the  Master of  Development Studies and the Bachelor of Social Work. 

 Since 2001, Linda has been involved in a series of action-based research projects exploring the challenges associated with identifying and responding to refugee women and girls at risk in Kenya, Ethiopia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Australia. The results have had significant impact on research and policy and were instrumental in the introduction of the UNHCR’s Conclusion on the Protection of Women and Girls at Risk in 2006 and the implementation of the Heightened Risk Identification Tool.

Linda has contributed to several missions on behalf of UNHCR Geneva to support the implementation of the Conclusion and further development of the Tool and regularly presents research reports at UNHCR Geneva. One of the most significant international refugee and community development projects Linda undertook was the  “Survivors, Protectors, Providers” Project as part of the 60th Anniversary of the UNHCR Refugee Convention. With Professor Eileen Pittaway, she was selected for the project by The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The project included a series of Dialogues with refugee and IDP women and girls, men and boys, from refugee groups from India, Colombia, Jordan, Uganda, Zambia, Thailand, Finland and Australia. Linda is currently leading a practice based research project in New Delhi India which is modelling refugee led community development and social support. The project, funded by the DIBP Displaced Persons Program, is being implemented in direct partnership with refugee communities from Afghanistan and Somalia with the support of UNHCR and BOSCO Delhi. The Refugee Community Development Project (RCDP) was an innovative refugee community led project based in New Delhi, India. It was developed by the the Centre for Refugee Research) in partnership with the Afghan and Somali Refugee communities and UNHCR in New Delhi. The project incorporates education, livelihoods, and women’s safety and social support initiatives. It has received multi-year funding ( 2012 – 2106) from the Department of immigration’s Displaced Persons Program (DPP) and was jointly managed by CRR and BOSCO Delhi. 

Research Areas

Refugee women and sexual violence, refugee women at risk, ethics of research with refugee communities, community development

Recent  Research Projects - 

Refugee women and girls in the Global Compact on Refugees

Due to continuing global concerns and political tensions over the increasing mass movement of refugees and migrants, in September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) issued the New York Declaration Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. The Declaration Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants was passed by consensus from all Member States. As well as reaffirming commitments to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the 1967 Protocol, States committed to provide increased and coordinated protection for refugees and migrants (54). Mr Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR, described this international, high-level commitment as a “minor miracle”, indicating its nature as the most significant commitment to the protection of refugees in decades. He has invited academics, advocates, service providers, and refugees to provide input into a Program of Action (POA) to realise the commitments of the GCR.

In May 2017, the research team developed a comprehensive gender analysis of the draft GCR and POA to support advocacy for stronger commitments to the protection of refugee women and girls in these documents (58). This analysis has already generated significant international interest from UNHCR, the Australian Government, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, and peak bodies including International Council on Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) who have circulated the document to all their members. Volker Turk (Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR) publically acknowledged the value of the CIs’ extensive work in that respect at the opening plenary of UNHCR NGO Consultations in June 2017 in Geneva.

People Involved: Adjunct Associate Professor Eileen PittawayDr Linda Bartolomei, and Charlotte Bell

Refugee Community Development Program

The Refugee Community Development Project (RCDP) was an innovative refugee community led project based in New Delhi, India. It was developed by the the Centre for Refugee Research) in partnership with the Afghan and Somali Refugee communities and UNHCR in New Delhi. The project incorporates education, livelihoods, and women’s safety and social support initiatives. It has received multi-year funding ( 2012 – 2106) from the Department of immigration’s Displaced Persons Program (DPP) and was jointly managed by CRR and BOSCO Delhi. People Involved: Dr Linda Bartolomei, Dr Kristy Ward, Effie Mitchell, Associate Professor Eileen Pittaway and Kerrie James

An exploration of the interpretation of the human rights framework in refugee settlement

People who have had to flee their homes and live for years with violence and denial of their rights, welcome the human rights which life in Australia promises. However resettlement in a new country is not an easy process and newly arrived refugees face many challenges as they adjust to life in a new country. One of these challenges is learning about and adapting to a different system of laws and rights. Resettlement brings an assumption that the rights of refugees previously denied them will be restored, and that they will enjoy and experience rights in similar ways to other citizens. However, preliminary research by FMRN and its partners has found that the issue of human rights in refugee settlement is far more complex. Many report that concerns over the meaning of rights, or how information about rights is presented has lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

In 2013, staff from the Centre for Refugee Research including Honorary Professor Eileen Pittaway,  Dr Linda Bartolomei and Centre Associate Professor Richard Hugman were awarded a three year Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant to examine these issues.


Refugee women at risk: protection and integration in Australia
Eileen Pittaway, Richard Hugman and Linda Bartolomei, ARC Linkage Project LP0776591 (2007-2010) Australia is resettling a significant number of refugee women at risk from protracted refugee situations. Without an adequate body of theory to inform policy and service provision, service providers are struggling to cope with the additional needs of this group. Through consultations with refugee women and service providers, this research explored the experiences of refugee women at risk resettled to Australia, identified potential risk factors which may affect their ability to integrate successfully and developed a risk assessment and response tool to complement settlement service provision. The research will inform policy and service provision and contribute to a theoretical framework which will guide the process of refugee resettlement.

Building on strength to combat violence: Community based approaches to working with refugee families who are experiencing family, domestic violence and child protection problems
Eileen Pittaway and Linda Bartolomei, Australian National Committee on Refugee Women/Research Grant This project involves working with refugee communities across Australia to determine how they perceive the problems which they are experiencing and solutions which they suggest.  Models of service response are then developed and trailed with the communities.  AMES Victoria and Relationships Australia NSW are also partners in this project.

Beyond resettlement to sustainable solutions. Improving the protection of refugee women and girls at risk and other vulnerable groups– Trialling community involvement in the expanded use of the UNHCR Heightened Risk Assessment Tool – UNHCR Geneva/Jordan
Eileen Pittaway and Linda Bartolomei, Department of Immigration and Citizenship/Displaced Persons Program research grant. This project will develop and trial an innovative community based response to the protection of women and girls at risk. What is unique about the model is that it will draw on the knowledge, skills and capacity of the refugee population to enable them to them to plan and provide services for their own community. It will also evaluate the usefulness of the Heightened Risk Identification Tool in responding to the needs of vulnerable refugees.  It will be developed and implemented in partnership with The Community Development, Gender Equality and Children’s Services Section (CDGECS) and UNHCR Amman.  The project is based on the principles of human rights, community development and has a focus on livelihoods and sustainable outcomes. Jordan is the UNHCR preferred site for this trial. The model developed will include guidance notes and training materials so that it can be replicated in other refugee sites.

Survivors, Protectors Providers, Dialogues with Refugee and IDP Women and girls in 7 countries
As part of the UNHCR Commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the refugee convention, CRR has been commissioned by UNHCR Geneva to conduct consultations with Refugee and  IDP women and girls in India, Jordan, Colombia, Zambia, Uganda, Thailand and Finland, to determine their protection needs.  These will inform the pledges which the High Commissioner has asked governments to make at the High Level Ministerial meeting in December.  Eileen Pittaway and Linda Bartolomei will be working with refugee women to make presentations at UN meetings in June and December 2011 on this project. The results will inform a Book, “The Global Situation of Refugee Women and Girls”.

An International Conference to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Refugee Convention
In June 2011 Linda will co-host a large international conference, with Eileen Pittaway co-sponsored by UNHCR and the Refugee Council of Australia, DIAC and a number of other community based organisation.  This follows a very successful 50th anniversary conference also held at UNSW in 2001.  The outcomes of the conference will be taken directly to as series of UNHCR meeting in Geneva.  Interns from the Master of Social development and the Bachelor of Social Work will assist with the conference and attend the meetings in Geneva.

Postgraduate Research Supervision

Areas of Supervision
Refugees, refugee women and sexual violence, refugee women at risk, gender and community development, ethics of research with refugee communities,


Teaching areas
Linda teaches into the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Development Studies programs. 

Current teaching
SOCW7851 Community Development

SOCW7857 Refugees & Forced Migration
S OCW7883 Advocacy at the UN
SOCW7858 ISD Project
SOCW7885 Social Development Internship

Affiliation and Memberships

  • Co-convener Forced Migration Research Network
  • Member, ANCORW Co-operative
  • Member, Australian Refugee Rights Alliance

Other Information

Linda’s advocacy, human rights and development related research and activities include:

  1. Since 2000 she has regularly participated in United Nations meetings of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva and The Commission for the Status of Women in New York. In 2011 she was appointed as the official rapportuer for the UNHCR NGO Consultations held in Geneva in June.
  2. With Eileen Pittaway she has co-convened three major international refugee conferences in 2001, 2005 and 2011.
  3. She took an active role in the five and ten year reviews of the Beijing Platform for action attending the meetings in New York and presenting research findings related to the impacts and incidence of rape and sexual violence on refugee and conflict affected women.
  4. She participated in the 2000 Prepcom for the International Criminal Court in New York.
  5. Outcomes of her work with Eileen Pittaway for the project ‘Women at Risk in camps’ in Kenya and on the Thai Burma Border have been the generation of New International Law on the Protection of refugee women and girls, situational analysis and risk assessment tools. This includes the identification of compounded risk factors, and protection responses for women who have experienced multiple incidences of sexual and domestic violence in refugee situation, and who are in danger of further abuse.  They were called to use these tools in Sri Lanka, following the 2004 tsunami, when a high incidence of rape and sexual violence occurred in IDP camps and temporary shelters.
  6. Based on this experience, working with supportive governments in New York at the CSW meeting, they were able to draft and introduce a resolution addressing gender issues in the tsunami, ECOSOC Resolution number E/CN.6/2005/L.6 March 2005. It was adopted by consensus by all government.
  7. In 2003, 2004 and 2005 human rights documentation training, advocacy training and technical assistance was provided to the Women’s League of Burma and the Karen Women’s Organisation. This has assisted them to produce three books, Shattering Silences, Systems of Impunity, State of Terror and a number of published advocacy documents
Subject areas


Bartolomei LA; Judd BH; Thompson SM; Corkery LF, 2003, A Bountiful Harvest: Community Gardens and Neighbourhood renewal in Waterloo, 1st, NSW Government, New South Wales
Book Chapters
Bartolomei L; Ward K; Garrett M, 2018, 'Disruptive rights-based community development in protracted urban refugee contexts: The politics of legal recognition', in The Routledge Handbook of Community Development Research, pp. 23 - 40,
Bartolomei LA, 2016, 'Refugees and Refugee camps', in Naples N; Hoogland R; Wickramasinghe M; Wong WC A (ed.), The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 1 - 5,
Bartolomei LA, 2015, 'Surviving the city: refugees from Burma in New Delhi', in Koizumi K; Hoffstaedter G (ed.), Urban Refugees: Challenges in Protection, Services and Policy, Routledge, New York, pp. 139 - 163,
Pittaway E; Bartolomei LA, 2013, 'Doing Ethical Research: Whose problem is it anyway?', in Block K; Riggs E; Haslam N (ed.), Values and Vulnerabilities: The Ethics of Research with Refugees and Asylum Seekers, edn. 1st, Australian Academic Press, Toowong QLD, pp. 151 - 170,
Hugman R; Bartolomei L, 2013, 'The ethics of participation in community work practice', in Participation In Community Work: International Perspectives, pp. 19 - 29,
Bartolomei LA; Pittaway E, 2013, 'An Uncomfortable Fit: Australia`s Refugee Policy in a Regional Context The Australian and Malayasian Experience', in Tazreiter C; Tham S; Tham S (ed.), Globalization and Social Transformation in the Asia-Pacific, edn. First, Palgrave macmillan, United Kingdom, pp. 147 - 162,
Conference Papers
Eckert R; Pittaway E; Bartolomei LA; Hugman R; Mitchell E, 2010, 'Surviving war but still at risk: the health needs of refugee women and girls at risk in regional Australia', in Surviving war but still at risk: the health needs of refugee women and girls at risk in regional Australia, Hobart, Hobart, 18 May 2010 - 21 May 2010
Conference Presentations
Ward K; Bartolomei L, 2014, 'Beyond resettlement to solutions: A rights-based community protection model by refugees, for refugees', presented at Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development, Melbourne, 09 July 2014 - 12 August 2016
Journal articles
Bartolomei L; Hamidi M; Mohamed N; Ward K, 2016, 'Refugee Community Development in New Delhi', Forced Migration Review, pp. 48 - 50,
Hugman R; Bartolomei LA; Pittaway E, 2011, 'Human agency and the meaning of informed consent: reflections on research with refugees', Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 24, pp. 655 - 671,
Hugman R; Pittaway E; Bartolomei LA, 2011, 'When 'Do No Harm' Is Not Enough: The Ethics of Research With Refugees And Other Vulnerable Groups', British Journal of Social Work, vol. 41, pp. 1271 - 1287,
Pittaway E; Bartolomei L; Rees S, 2007, 'Neglected issues and voices', Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, vol. 19, pp. 69
Rees S; Pittaway E; Bartolomei L, 2005, 'Waves of violence - Women in post-tsunami Sri Lanka', Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, vol. 2005, pp. 19 - 27
Bartolomei LA, 2013, Australian Political Party Poverty Audit, August 2013, ASAP Oceania, Social Justoce Network UNSW, Sydney, ASAP: Academics Stand Against Poverty, 1,
Bartolomei LA, 2011, Report of the Annual Consultations with NGOS,