Naomi is the founding National Director of Australia for UNHCR

Naomi is a passionate advocate for refugees, with a deep understanding of the issues affecting displaced people. She has worked in human rights and refugee issues since she began her career as a diplomat with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with postings at the United Nations in New York and in India.

Naomi established Australia for UNHCR in 2000. Under her leadership and with the support of Australian donors, Australia for UNHCR has become a top ten private sector contributor to UNHCR’s budget, ahead of many governments and international foundations. It is the only international agency in Australia solely focused on refugees and raises tens of millions of dollars annually to support UNHCR’s global humanitarian work. See the latest annual report here.

“I consider it a great privilege to do this job, connecting Australians to what has been described as the greatest humanitarian cause of our time. I am also very proud about what we have achieved – with our Australian donors helping UNHCR respond to major humanitarian emergencies. We have also pioneered important projects - giving refugees access to such things as health services, education, computer training, internet access and livelihood opportunities - none of which would have happened without our support.”

Naomi regularly visits Australian-funded projects and UNHCR operations in the field, and reports back on the impact of Australian donations. She also uses these visits to speak with refugees about their aspirations to identify how Australian donor support can make a difference.

“I have met so many inspiring refugees, in particular women and girls, many of whom have suffered terribly from conflict and violence but with great courage and support from UNHCR have gone on to remake their lives. Young women like Jasmine, a Somali refugee we trained at our Computer Training Centre in Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda, who went on to win a scholarship for further study in Kampala. As well as women like Agnes and Gloria and their friends from the Urban Refugee Women Craft group in Kampala, Uganda, who with our livelihood support have been able to pay school fees, rent safe accommodation and start-up businesses to support their families." 

In addition to her role with Australia for UNHCR, Naomi is a Trustee of First State Super in Australia and a Director of the Sydney Financial Forum. She has served on a number of previous boards specialising in governance, finance and risk management. In 2017 she was nominated by her peers as the Co-Chair of UNHCR’s Partnership Council. In a diverse career with an ongoing focus on human rights and social justice, Naomi has also held a number of senior positions in the trade union movement including with the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance and Unions NSW.

Naomi presents regularly and is widely published on global humanitarian issues, and in particular the impact of conflict and displacement on women and girls. She has an MSc (Distinction - Security, Conflict and International Development) from Leicester University, and a LLB/BA (Hons - Political Science) from the UNSW. Naomi is also a graduate of the Harvard University Executive program.

Follow Naomi on Twitter @NaomiCSteer

Naomi Steer - National Director

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