Long term supporter, activist and former Amnesty President, Georgina Perry chats to Charles Rozario about what inspires her continued support. Georgina shares how it all started from her days as a secondary school student to life today as a mum and community lawyer.
When did it all begin for you?
I think it was during Year 9 when there was a school presentation about women’s rights by someone from Amnesty. I remember hearing about a girl the same age as me and as I listened, it just struck me: Why would someone my age who should have had the same opportunities as I did, be denied not just the same opportunities but her basic freedoms? At that moment, I wanted to do something for that girl and people like that girl everywhere.
You mentioned in conversation earlier that Amnesty is very accessible to all people who really want to make difference. Could you expand on what you mean by that?
It’s the one thing that I immediately liked about Amnesty. I was just a school student back then but I could actually do something to make a real difference. There were many activities and actions that were possible through Amnesty so I felt that I could get involved in many different ways and that it wasn’t just about donating money. That empowered me. I felt that I could make an impact.
What activities did you do?
After that presentation, I joined the Amnesty group at my high school. We got together weekly and wrote letters protesting human rights abuses around the world. We also organised mufti-days where students could donate $1 to wear plain clothes and they would get involved in letter writing in their home room class in the morning. Candle Day was also a major fundraiser at the time and I raised funds for Amnesty at school events that way.
How did your Amnesty journey continue after school?
Well I did some work experience at the Amnesty Action Centre in Sydney during Year 11. It was a fun experience as I got to meet the staff, especially the campaigners. After that I joined the Amnesty group at Sydney University and kept volunteering at the Action Centre during that time. My main role in the Action Centre was to coordinate the NSW Schools Network that encouraged high school students across the state to support Amnesty and campaign for human rights. In a way it felt like coming full circle – I was at the other side of my own experience as a Year 9 student.
You continued to support Amnesty now that you’re in the workforce and you’re also a Mum. Tell us why and how do you support us?
Well I suppose my continuation as a supporter stems from that initial desire to make a positive contribution, after attending that presentation at school. I work as a community lawyer now and I’m also a Mum to 7 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. I’ve continued to support Amnesty in various ways from being a member of the Amnesty Australia Board, including as President, making regular donations, and volunteering to facilitate the Amnesty Annual General Meeting the past few years. I’ve also left a gift in my Will to Amnesty.
What human rights issues are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about all human rights issues but I’m particularly passionate about the rights of Indigenous Australians, refugees and women. While I have a passion for human rights, a lot of my work with Amnesty has been focussed on organising and governance. My experience as a lawyer means I am able to make a contribution in this area. I recently took the time to consider Amnesty Australia’s strategic plan and can see the vital work that Amnesty continues to do and the impact that it has.”
You mentioned leaving a gift in your Will to Amnesty. What inspired you to do this?
Well in my view leaving a gift in your Will is a very simple thing to do. The actual organising part of getting the Will done requires a bit of effort but once you’ve done that, leaving a gift to Amnesty is just an extra line in the document. It doesn’t affect my day to day finances. After you’ve passed is a time when there could be money available that you can give to help others. Of course, choosing who to give to is very important. For me, after providing for my family, helping to ensure Amnesty can continue to protect and promote human rights is absolutely important to me.
What would you say to others about doing same thing?
I’d say that Amnesty is an organisation that campaigns for human rights. It does this without government support so it can remain brave, independent and impartial. Amnesty enables individual people to get involved and to make a difference about the issues they care about. There are many ways to do this and leaving a gift in your Will is a way to continue your support even when you’re no longer around.