Robina was born in Melbourne, Australia and brought up as a Catholic. She studied classical singing until her early twenties, then went to London in 1967, where she lived for four years. In her quest for a spiritual path, Robina began studying martial arts in 1974 and moved to New York, where she studied karate. She continued her studies in Melbourne until 1976, when she attended a Tibetan Buddhist course in Queensland given by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Ordained since the late 1970s, Ven. Robina has worked full time since then for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's FPMT. Over the years she has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, executive director of Liberation Prison Project, and as a touring teacher of Buddhism. Her life and work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom.
In November 1977 Robina went to Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she was ordained. Since then, she has lived as a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, traveling, teaching and bringing the Dharma to people both in and out of prison.
In 1978 Courtin ordained at Tushita Meditation Centre in Dharamsala. She was Editorial Director of Wisdom Publications until 1987 and Editor of Mandala until 2000. She left Mandala to teach and to develop Liberation Prison Project. At the end of 2000 she resigned to spend more time teaching at Buddhist centers around the world and to devote her time and energy to Liberation Prison Project.
In 2001, Courtin created Chasing Buddha Pilgrimage, which lead pilgrimages to Buddhist holy sites in India, Nepal, and Tibet to raise money for the Liberation Prison Project an association engaged for the Tibetan cause.