David Bitel is 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.