Our staff

Lisa Button, Executive Director

Lisa began her career as a commercial lawyer and has been working in refugee law and policy for more than a decade with organisations such as the Centre for Policy Development, Save the Children and Refugee Legal. Since 2017 she has led a group of non-profit organisations in the establishment and operation of the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, inspired by the goal of expanding refugee protection and deepening the connection between refugee newcomers and more established members of the Australian community. Lisa is also a Fellow with the Centre for Policy Development and a board member of the Cisarua Learning Inc and the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development (GLADP), both refugee-led charities working to support refugees in Australia and the region. Lisa holds a Masters in Public and International Law.

Nicole Watkins, Community Development Manager

Nicole is a community development practitioner with ten years experience working in not for profit and government agencies. Nicole completed a Masters of Social Development from UNSW and has extensive experience working in the refugee sector with agencies such as Australian Red Cross and Settlement Services International. She is passionate about building community capacity to drive long lasting and sustainable change that delivers meaningful outcomes for the community.

Shabnam Safa, Community Development Officer

Shabnam is a driven community development practitioner who is passionate about cultivating true partnerships between communities and structures of power and influence in addressing the complex challenges of forced migration and resettlement. Inspired by values-based leadership, advocacy, and her own lived experience, she has founded multiple initiatives in Australia and abroad supporting refugees and host communities. She has previously worked at the Centre for Multicultural Youth designing and delivering strengths-based capacity-building programs for migrant and refugee young people. Shabnam is the inaugural chairperson leading the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG), a refugee-led organisation that aims to create space for the voices of those with lived experience in key decisions, policies, advocacy, and public discourse about refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.

Asher Hirsch, Senior Policy Advisor

Asher is a researcher, lawyer and policy advisor in refugee law and policy. In addition to his role at CRSI, Asher is also a Senior Policy Advisor with the Refugee Council of Australia. His work involves research, policy development and advocacy on national and international issues impacting refugee communities. Asher is also a PhD Candidate and Lecturer at Monash University in public law, human rights, and refugee law.