Renuka T. Balasubramaniam

PhD Candidate - Melbourne University Human Rights Scholarship (2018-2021), Melbourne University

Lawyer - Partner, Dharmen Sivalingam & Partners, Malaysia

Active in Country: Currently studying in Australia, previously Malaysia

DTP Alumna: 2005 MW Program - Bangladesh 

                      2008 MW Program - Philippines


"Through the DTP training, I have come to realise that lawyers can make small yet significant changes."


Renuka was an employment and immigration lawyer in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia when she became active in advocacy for the rights of migrant workers.

Renuka joined DTP’s 2nd Asia regional capacity building program on the rights of migrant workers – held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2005.  Following her participation in this program she began to undertake pro-bono work for migrants and refugees became increasingly actively engaged in regional and international migrant rights advocacy.

Her wide experience includes being on the committee of the Malaysian Bar Council's legal aid centre, two terms as External Counsel for UNHCR from August 2008 to January 2009, Director of Lawyers for Liberty, and member of the Malaysian Bar's Human Rights Committee. In addition to collecting data on violations to the rights of migrants and refugees for her work with Migrant Forum in Asia and the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, Renuka also works on gender, indigenous rights and rule of law issues. She is also actively engaged in regional and international migrant and refugee rights advocacy. In 2009 she was nominated by her network migration working group to attend the UNHCR High Commissioner’s Dialogue in Geneva. In 2010, she was part of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress’s delegation to the International Labour Conference observing deliberations on the Domestic Work convention. 

Renuka’s Feedback on DTP’s programs:

The DTP programs are well structured with well-defined objectives. A significant effort is put into teaching participants how to achieve those objectives.

Skills: I found the campaigning and advocacy skills, as well as the information on international conventions and ILO processes particularly useful. As a lawyer, with a focus on legal research and litigation, it is difficult to find partners for advocacy work. People run different campaigns at different times and have different immediate priorities.

Networks and Support: DTP has helped me join up with MFA and as a result of my participation in the program; I conducted regional training with MFA in Kathmandu and Chennai, as well as joined MFA for participation in the 2009 Asia Europe Forum.

Through the DTP training, I have come to realise that lawyers can make small yet significant changes.

Improvements/Suggestions: I would suggest for future improvement, DTP should consider involving judges in the training and perhaps not inviting government representatives. DTP might also consider concentrating on providing programs around the types of performed, e.g., advocacy training for advocacy groups, 55 legal training for lawyers etc. DTP/MFA could also provide additional follow-up support through assisting with funding sources, interns, translation and country of origin contacts with visible results.



Date of profile and interview not recorded: 


Profile updated June 2018