Dr Ebony Birchall is a lawyer and legal academic. She specialises in complex public interest cases, class actions and pro bono litigation. Her work focuses on human rights and accountability of governments, large corporations or institutions. She has a particular expertise and passion for helping people from refugee backgrounds.
Her current matters involve:
- Acting pro bono on behalf of almost 10,000 people from refugee backgrounds regarding the 2014 data breach by the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
- Acting for hundreds of women harmed by the Essure contraceptive device.
- Investigating potential class action proceedings on behalf of thousands of people who may have been unlawfully strip searched by the NSW Police.
- Investigating several potential class actions relating to institutional abuse or human rights concerns.
- Acting pro bono for individuals from refugee backgrounds who were unlawfully detained or harmed in detention.
Between 2014 and 2017, Ebony was a leading member of the team that ran the Manus Island class action, concerning physical and psychological injuries suffered by almost 2,000 people from refugee backgrounds at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in PNG. The case was one of the largest and most difficult proceedings ever taken on by Slater and Gordon’s class actions team, involving a host of complex legal issues ranging from the application of foreign law to disputes over claims of public interest immunity claims. In mid-2017, the landmark class action settled for $70 million. At the time, it was believed to be the largest human rights settlement in Australian legal history.
Ebony’s research areas focus on topics of human rights, political philosophy and government power. Her research has received special commendations and has been presented internationally. Her doctoral research was titled ‘The Impossible Position: The medical profession’s struggle of power and politics in Australia’s immigration detention system’.
Ebony is involved in the management of an economic development organisation, she is on the leadership team of a refugee advocacy organisation and is a member of the NSW committee for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
Professional Qualifications and Admissions
- Doctor of Philosophy (Law)
- Bachelor of Laws
- Bachelor of Commerce (Economics)
- Graduate Diploma in Law
- Since 2010: Slater and Gordon, Senior Associate
- 2016 to 2020: Doctoral researcher
- 2015: University tutor (Administrative Law)