From 1999 to 2013, Eileen Pittaway was director of the Centre for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales, and associate professor in the School of Social Sciences and International Studies, coordinating and teaching in the master's programs of international social development, and refugees and forced migration. She now continues her research activities and involvement with the university in an honorary capacity. The major focus of her work has been the prevention of and response to the rape, sexual abuse and gender-based violence experienced by refugee women, both overseas and following resettlement in Australia.
Over the past 20 years, she has conducted research; provided training to refugees, United Nations and non-governmental organization staff in refugee camps and urban settings; acted as technical adviser to a number of projects; and evaluated humanitarian and development projects in 18 different countries. She is currently working with the UN Refugee Agency, conducting an audit into gender aspects of the global compact on refugees being negotiated with states for presentation at the United Nations General Assembly in 2018.
In 2001, Eileen was awarded a Human Rights Medal by the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission for her work with refugee women and children. In 2005, she received a New South Wales Premier’s Award for services to refugee education. In 2011, on the centenary of International Women’s Day, she was named one of 100 women who have shaped Australia. In 2012, she was made a member of the Order of Australia for her work with refugees.