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Assistant Protection Officer

UNHCR Multi-Country Representation in Canberra


UNHCR’s Representation is based in Canberra and is responsible for the promotion and protection of refugee rights in the region which includes Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

UNHCR supports countries in the region to develop national refugee legislation, increase capacity in refugee status determination and introduce protection safeguards in immigration procedures. To supervise the implementation of international refugee and statelessness law, UNHCR closely monitors law, policy and practices throughout the region.

The Assistant Protection Officer role is principally focused on Australia and New Zealand but may include engagement with other states and regional processes covered by the MCO as needed. Australia's domestic policy towards asylum-seekers and refugee arrivals, including offshore transfers to the remote islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea brings significant complexity to the operational context for UNHCR. The Assistant Protection Officer is a mid-level position, required to assist efforts that respond to the protection and solutions needs of these asylum-seekers and refugees, especially in the context of those who have been transferred to Australia. A well-developed understanding and familiarity with the Australian legislative and jurisprudential framework is thus highly desirable, as is the ability to critically analyse complex information within tight time constraints.

The Assistant Protection Officer may also support efforts to strengthen national systems for protection and solutions by providing assistance and guidance to persons of concern in the MCO region of responsibility and providing technical expertise to government officials on RSD and related processes to encourage meaningful responses and contributions to the system of international protection.

The role requires the incumbent to maintain effective relationships and networks with governmental officers and agencies and also assist efforts by the Senior Protection Officer to maintain positive engagement with government and civil society actors in the development of new policies and programming for strengthening and expanding the protection of refugees and stateless persons.


  • Provide operational support to the UNHCR Multi-Country Representation in Canberra to achieve protection, solutions and external relations objectives and ensure the effective operation of the Representation.
  • Provide advice/briefing on the implications of domestic refugee law for persons of concerns at the case level as well as analysis of legal and policy developments more broadly
  • Consistently apply principles of international and national law, applicable UN and UNHCR policy.
  • In consultation with senior officers, contribute to the design and implementation of national and regional-level protection strategies.
  • Manage and contribute to individual protection case management and intervene in cases of refoulement, expulsion and other protection incidents.
  • Represent and prepare senior officers to represent UNHCR on protection matters in consultations and awareness-raising initiatives with governments and other interlocutors, including NGOs, legal and other service providers and community representatives.
  • Assist in drafting and providing comments to external authorities, including United Nations treaty monitoring bodies.


The Assistant Protection Officer reports to the Protection Officer or the Senior Protection Officer. Depending on the size and structure of the Office, the incumbent may have supervisory responsibility for protection staff including community-based protection, registration, resettlement, and education.

S/he provides functional protection guidance to information management and programme staff on all protection/legal matters and accountabilities. These include: statelessness (in line with the campaign to End Statelessness by 2024), Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) commitments, age, gender, diversity (AGD) and accountability to affected populations (AAP) through community-based protection, Child protection, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) prevention and response, gender equality, disability inclusion, youth empowerment, psycho-social support and PSEA, registration, asylum/refugee status determination, resettlement, local integration, voluntary repatriation, human rights standards integration, national legislation, judicial engagement, predictable and decisive engagement in situations of internal displacement and engagement in wider mixed movement and climate change/disaster-related displacement responses. S/he supervises protection standards, operational procedures and practices in protection delivery in line with international standards.

The Assistant Protection Officer is expected to coordinate quality, timely and effective protection responses to the needs of populations of concern (PoC), ensuring that operational responses in all sectors mainstream protection methodologies and integrate protection safeguards. The incumbent contributes to the design of a comprehensive protection strategy and represents the Organization externally on protection doctrine and policy as guided by the supervisor. S/he also ensures that PoC are meaningfully engaged in the decisions that affect them and support programme design and adaptations that are influenced by the concerns, priorities and capacities of them. To achieve this, the incumbent will need to build and maintain effective interfaces with communities of concern, authorities, protection and assistance partners as well as a broader network of stakeholders who can contribute to enhancing protection.



Stay abreast of political, social, economic and cultural developments that have an impact on the protection environment.

  • Consistently apply International and National Law and applicable UN/UNHCR and IASC policy, standards and codes of conduct.
  • Assist in providing comments on existing and draft legislation related to PoC.
  • Provide legal advice and guidance on protection issues to PoC; liaise with competent authorities to ensure the issuance of personal and other relevant documentation.
  • Conduct eligibility and status determination for PoC in compliance with UNHCR procedural standards and international protection principles.
  • Promote and contribute to measures to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness.
  • Contribute to a country-level child protection plan as part of the protection strategy.
  • Contribute to a country-level education plan as part of the protection strategy.
  • Provide inputs for the development of protection policies and standards within the AoR.
  • Implement and monitor Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all protection/solutions activities.
  • Manage individual protection cases including those on SGBV and child protection. Monitor, and intervene in cases of refoulement, expulsion and other protection incidents.
  • Recommend durable solutions for the largest possible number of PoC through voluntary repatriation, local integration and where appropriate, resettlement.
  • Assess resettlement needs and apply priorities for the resettlement of individuals and groups of refugees and other PoC.
  • Contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of protection related AGD based programming with implementing and operational partners.
  • Contribute to and facilitate a programme of results-based advocacy with sectorial and/or cluster partners.
  • Contribute to and facilitate effective information management through the provision of disaggregated data on populations of concern and their problems.
  • Assist capacity-building initiatives for communities and individuals to assert their rights.
  • Participate in initiatives to capacitate authorities, relevant institutions and NGOs to strengthen national protection related legislation and procedures.
  • Intervene with authorities on protection issues.
  • Assist the supervisor in deciding priorities for reception, interviewing and counselling for groups or individuals.
  • Assist the supervisor in enforcing compliance of staff and implementing partners with global protection policies and standards of professional integrity in the delivery of protection services.
  • Enforce compliance with, and integrity of, all protection standard operating procedures.
  • Perform other related duties as required.


Core Competencies:



Organisational Awareness

Teamwork & Collaboration

Commitment to Continuous Learning

Client & Result Orientation

Managerial Competencies:

Judgement and Decision Making

Cross-Functional Competencies:

Stakeholder Management

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

Political Awareness


  • Knowledge of International Refugee and Human Rights Law and ability to apply the relevant legal principles.
  • An undergraduate degree in law or international relations (refugee studies is strongly preferred).
  • 1 year relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or no experience with Graduate degree; or no experience with Doctorate degree (Field(s) of education include Law, International Law, Political Sciences or other relevant field). [Note: more experienced candidates are encouraged to apply]
  • Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language [Note: the working language of the MCO Canberra is English].
  • Demonstrated ability to analyse and apply international and domestic refugee/migration law and to make recommendations based on an understanding of UNHCR's mandate and policies.
  • An understanding of UNHCR and its role as a humanitarian organisation, including its protection and durable solutions mandate.
  • Highly developed oral and written communication skills. Experience in consultation and liaison with Government and/or NGO representatives and other stakeholders.
  • Strong organisational and work planning skills, as well as the ability to work in a high volume work environment.


  • Experience in refugee/asylum case-related work in Australia and/or New Zealand
  • Post graduate qualification in international law
  • Completion of the Protection Learning Programme, RSD- Resettlement Learning Programme
  • Good knowledge of MS Word, and Excel


*PR-Protection-related guidelines, standards and indicators

*LE-International Refugee Law

*PR-Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD)

PR-Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Coordination

MG-Projects management

PR-PR-Human Rights Doctrine/Standards

PR-International Humanitarian Law

PR-Protection and mixed-movements

PR-Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Operations & IDPs Status/Rights/Obligation

PR-Climate change and disaster related displacement

PR-Community-based Protection

MS-Drafting, Documentation, Data Presentation


Current NPO staff members holding an indefinite or fixed-term appointment are eligible to apply to advertised positions in the NPO category at their personal grade and one grade below or above, as internal (group 1) candidates.

All other candidates are eligible to apply to positions in the NPO category as external candidates (including UNHCR GS staff members holding a university degree and fulfilling eligibility requirements, regardless of grade or length of service, who may apply to any vacant NPO position in their country of assignment for which they qualify).

Please note that all candidates must be Australian citizens.


The position is a National Officer Grade A. National Officer positions are recruited locally to perform functions at the professional level. A competitive compensation and benefits package is offered. For general information on UN salaries, allowances and benefits, please visit the portal of the International Civil Service Commission at http://icsc.un.org and UN Salaries-Australia.

A position description and a personal history form are attached.

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