It is with great sadness that Parish Patience Immigration Lawyers announces the passing of its principal, David Bitel. David died in his sleep on 20 August 2016 at Greenwich Hospital.

David Bitel was a partner of the long-established Sydney law firm Parish Patience Immigration, specialising in immigration law and administrative law. He is an Honorary accredited immigration law specialist by the NSW Law Society.

From 1989 to 2009 he served as a Judicial Member of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal of NSW, now the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, Equal Opportunity Division.

Between 1978 and 1983 he was an elected Paddington Ward Alderman on Woollahra Municipal Council representing the Australian Labor Party.

He has been Secretary-General of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists from 1983 to 2010. In 2010 he was elected as President of the Community Justice Coalition.

He has particular interest in the problems of refugees and was the President of the Refugee Council of Australia from 1995 to 2005 and Chairman of the Australian Refugee Foundation (1998 to 2006). He continues to serve on the Executive as Immediate Past President. He was founding chairman of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service. He received Austcare's prestigious Paul Cullen Humanitarian Award in 2002 for his work with refugees.

He helped to found - and subsequently was Chairman of - the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC), the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF), and the Australian Forum of Human Rights Organisations (AFHRO).

He has been active in supporting many ethnic communities and was an Executive Member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies from 1999 to 2007 and Chair of its Social Justice Committee in this period. He was Vice President of the Filipino Community Cooperative Inc. in the early 1980s and is an Executive Member of the Australia Bangladesh Business Council, President of the Australia Bangladesh Friendship Society, and Convenor of Bangladeshi Friends of ActionAid Australia Inc.

He is and has been a member of various committees of the Law Society of NSW, the Law Council of Australia and the International Bar Association. He has been a member of the NSW Law Society Immigration Law Specialist Accreditation Committee since its inception and since 2006 has served as Chair of this committee. From 2000 to 2006 he was Vice Chair of Committee 14 (Migration and Nationality) of the Section on Legal Practice of the International Bar Association.

He has authored many publications, and was a first author and then consultant author of the Butterworths: Australian Immigration Law Service, and he has presented papers at legal conferences and has made many submissions to Parliamentary enquiries on issues relating to human rights, the rule of law and immigration and refugees.

Reference : http://www.communityjusticecoalition.org/about-us/president-david-bitel

David recently celebrated his 40th Anniversary as a Solicitor, having first been admitted on 16 July 1976. He practised all his professional life with Parish Patience. In this sense, David continued the great tradition of the firm. From its beginning in 1888, founding partner Walter Parish was a lawyer here for over 50 years. John Patience came to the firm in 1937 and remained practising law for decades, including when he became Chairman of Radio 2GB. Another long-term principal was Neil McIntyre, and the firm was named Parish Patience & McIntyre up to the late 1960’s.

Practising extensively in both general and immigration law, David was a member of the Migration Institute of Australia. He was first lawyer recognised by the Law Society of  New South Wales as an Honorary Accredited Specialist in Immigration Law and was a consultant author of the loose leaf legal text “Australian Immigration Law”. David also provided legal advice to many community groups, notably from the Filipino, Bangladesh, Indonesian and Nepalese communities in Australia.

From this experience particularly in Immigration and Human Rights’ Law, David was appointed as a member of various committees of the Law Society of New South wales, (including as Chair of its Specialist Accreditation Committee, and its Human Rights Committee), of the Law Council of Australia and of the International Bar Association and a member of the Executive of the IBA. From 2002 to 2004 he was Senior Vice Chair of IBA Committee 14. David was also a member of the Immigration Lawyers Association of Australia and was one of the Convenors of their 2011 Annual Conference in Sydney.

More recently, David Bitel was named in the 2014 edition of the Best Lawyers in Australia, a tribute to him and to his long-time professional dedication.

Similar to his commitment to legal matters, David Bitel also undertook significant community and human rights’ work throughout his life. He served as the long term Secretary General of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists, assisting with Rule of Law matters in Australia and internationally. Frequently David attended Government/NGO Consultations Forums, and substantially advocated for changes in domestic and international law, including through the Australian Forum of Human Rights Organisations (AFHRO)

For David’s work with refugees, in 2002 he was awarded Austcare’s prestigious Paul Cullen Humanitarian Award. David had also helped to found the Immigration Advice and rights Centre (IARC) in 1982, and served as its Chairman. He similarly helped to found the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF), which has continued since 1983 to advocate for equality for same sex couples under Immigration Law.

From 1989 to 2009 David was a part time Judicial Member of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal in its Equal Opportunity Division (and its predecessor). He served on the Executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies from 1999 to 2008, acting as Chair of its Social Justice Committee in this period. A member of the Labor Party of Australia since 1967, David was elected as Paddington Ward Alderman to Woollahra Municipal Council from 1978 to 1983 and, in the 1980s, he served on the NSW ALP Branch, Immigration Policy Committee.

David also held deep interest in prison reform and social justice issues affecting mental health patients. From 2010 to 2012 he served as President of the Community Justice Coalition in New South Wales.

Parish Patience as a firm benefited considerably from David’s expertise and care, including developments in Administrative and Immigration Law. Over decades of his work in community and legal matters, he did not lessen his workload or efforts to ensure changes in the law for the better.

When confronted with the news three years ago that he had been diagnosed with Cancer, he reacted with his customary determination and optimism.

Over the last six months or so David’s health steadily declined however his commitment to clients and humanitarian causes never wavered. He explained more than once that he didn’t want sympathy as he had a full life and had been fortunate to enjoy opportunities not available to everyone.

Such was his devotion to immigration work he continued to see clients and help and advise them for as long as it was possible to do so. David’s legacy is with many thousands of people he has helped to lead happy and fulfilling lives in Australia.

For more information please contact Office Managers Blair Commin on 92868700

(With thanks to Kate Matthews for her Assistance) 





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