Hi, I’m Gabe Kavanagh and I’m excited to tell you about the progress we’ve made over the past 12 months towards our 2020 Vision. As you know, we’ve set ourselves a challenging and ambitious human rights agenda to achieve by 2020. In the current global climate we’re needed more than ever, and the progress we’re making shows we’re on the right track.
Goal 1: demonstrating human rights wins
Twelve months ago, the imprisonment of Indigenous children and their treatment in detention barely rated a mention in parliament and was a blip on the national media radar.
We’ve worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners to change that. This issue is now in the media spotlight and leaders are starting to talk about it. Amnesty supporters, members, activists and groups have been at the forefront of this shift.
There’s still a long way to go, but across Australia we are making a real difference in children’s lives: recently we’ve seen positive changes in Queensland’s justice policies and children removed from a Victorian adult prison.
Activists are also continuing to protect the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum. This is certainly an uphill battle, but among the toxic political debate we are inching towards an end to offshore processing. Recently we’ve seen Australia go to extraordinary lengths to maintain the US-refugee deal, demonstrating how desperate the government is to get refugees off Manus and Nauru.
Our research and campaigning has proven Australia’s system of offshore detention is abusive, and the tireless work of activists to get this message out there has been nothing short of inspirational. You’ve hit the streets, you’ve turned up at your MPs’ offices, and you’ve shown solidarity with the courageous people Australia has held captive and turned away.
Our movement took an impressive 393,211 actions to defend the rights of individuals at risk last year. Our individuals at risk work is making a real impact in people’s lives, including for Peruvian farmer Maxima Acuna who recently had a win in the courts, and for Salar Shadizadi, who was recently released from prison in Iran.
Goal 2: being an empowered, effective and diverse movement of supporters
We need to be a large, powerful and diverse mass movement to achieve change.
We have 200 action groups around the country and about 250 school groups. Amnesty groups are getting increasingly organised with local plans for action, and this is paying off.
In the past year alone, local groups met with the NSW and Tasmanian State Premiers, the Prime Minister and dozens of Ministers and local MPs, to advocate on our campaigns. We know these meetings have been pivotal in changing our leaders minds.
We have around 1,600 highly engaged activists who are potential and developing leaders. We’re working to build their capacity so we can realise our vision at a national, regional and local level.
Goal 3: inspiring people to increase their commitment and support
We want to inspire people to have a strong and long-lasting relationship with Amnesty and we need to invest in new fundraising strategies if we’re to continue to make a difference around the world.
The importance of the funding we provide to the international movement and other Amnesty sections cannot be understated. I recently visited the Philippines Amnesty section and was reminded just how important our fundraising is to the wider Amnesty movement. The situation facing our staff, supporters and members in the Philippines is dire, and they are directly impacted by the violence surrounding the so-called “drug war” – many have personally faced intimidation.
Despite this, they’re working tirelessly to shine a spotlight on the government-sanctioned killings, and to stop the reintroduction of the death penalty. For a section of only 12 staff and 12,000 supporters what they’ve achieved is impressive. We are able to support this critical work by providing funding that goes to staff, office space and activism resources.
I want to thank each and every one of our members, activists, donors and supporters. With millions of others from around the world, we stand against human rights abuses and make the world a better, safer, freer place.
Thank you for all your support and I look forward to continuing the journey with you.
National President, Amnesty International Australia