What would you do?
Take the quiz to find out how you would act in the face of injustice.
Stories from like-minded people, who are challenging injustice
Ambrose HayesLearn More
“My vision for the future is one where we don’t have to worry about the looming climate crisis, where our economy is fair and just, and everything is sustainability focused.”
Ambrose Hayes is a student organiser for School Strike 4 Climate, who grew up in Inner West Sydney. He’d always been interested in the environment since primary school, but it wasn’t until 2018 at the age of 13 that he noticed more and more students starting to take action for the future of our planet. “I realised the size of the problem, and decided that I wanted to be a part of the solution”.
After seeing the first climate strike in Sydney back in November 2018, he decided to take action himself and get involved in challenging climate injustice. Ambrose went on to help organise the March 15 Sydney #ClimateStrike in 2019, the September 20 #ClimateStrike which mobilised at least 80,000 Sydney-siders, the May 15 online #ClimateStrike and other various actions throughout 2019-2020. Ambrose has also been involved in panel events including ones for Sydney Science Week, where he’s raised awareness of the Australian School Strikes movement and its demands for a more sustainable future. Ambrose works on all of the tech platforms used by the movement, to ensure they all work seamlessly, as well as organises logistics for the strikes so they are set up for success.
Ambrose has met and been inspired by many other leaders in the climate movement. He wants to see more diversity and inclusivity within social movements, and encourages everybody to get involved in the causes that they care about: “Taking action no matter how small, makes a difference. Whether it’s joining a local group, attending a strike or just raising awareness by talking to your friends”. Ambrose hopes to inspire others to act on the climate crisis with the urgency it needs. His vision for the future is one where we don’t have to worry about the looming climate crisis, where our economy is fair and just, and everything is sustainability focused.
Tamika SadlerLearn More
“Climate change is an issue of environmental and social justice. It is an issue that affects everybody but the impacts are not evenly distributed. Too often it’s the people who have contributed the least to the causes of climate change that are facing the most severe impacts.”
Tamika is a proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander woman living on beautiful Gubbi Gubbi Country, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Tamika is passionate about creating a movement for social change, and mobilises her community to challenge injustice on climate change and racial equality.
To challenge climate injustice, Tamika joined SEED as a passionate volunteer. SEED is an Indigenous Youth Climate Network tackling environmental justice and climate change and work towards a sustainable future with strong cultures and communities powered by renewable energy. Tamika is now a community organiser at SEED. “We educate, inspire and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to lead climate campaigns and projects across the country. We do this by reducing barriers to involvement through outreach and training, mentoring and leadership opportunities.”
As well as fighting for action on climate change, Tamika is fearless is her pursuit of racial equality. She and her partner Ben recently organised the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the Sunshine Coast. Speaking at the rally, Tamika shared with the crowd. “My first racist experience was in Year 1. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Resulting in questioning my identity as a First Nations young girl for the years to come and comparing myself to what was seen as “beautiful and worthy” that white society portrays throughout the media. The Black Lives Matter rally on the Sunshine Coast was so important to do to bring the community together and unite as one to say no to racism and police brutality, but also to recognise and acknowledge the history, resilience and pride of First Nations People and our culture. “
Tamika’s work to challenge climate injustice is embedded in her heritage. Her ambition is that we learn from our Indigenous people and share the powerful knowledge that has been practiced over thousands of years. “The advice that I give to everyone is to start to learn about how your everyday living has an impact on climate change and start looking at sustainable solutions. I strongly urge, not just here in Australia, but worldwide, that we listen and learn from our First Nations people to care, protect and sustainably manage the land and sea. First Nations people hold a wealth of knowledge and it’s time our Western society enables us to practice our sacred knowledge to save the planet.”
Gabby SutherlandLearn More
“If you know that the situation you are faced with does not benefit humanity and you want to make a change, close your eyes, take a breath, seek out other like minded people, feel and embrace the fear and just do what needs to be done, peacefully make the change and be the change. One person can do incredible things.”
Gabby Sutherland is an avid campaigner for the children, women and men locked in offshore detention on Nauru. After bearing witness to the appalling conditions they face, Gabby spoke out to challenge injustice, blowing the whistle and working with the media to expose the truth.
Gabby first went to Nauru in October 2014, assigned as a specialist art, design and technology teacher with Save the Children. When she arrived, Gabby was shocked by the conditions of the Australian-run detention camp. The environment was bleak, from mouldy tents, bedsheets acting as shade cloths to high prison fences with the faces of curious children framing the entire camp. Sadly, in the year that followed Gabby became more aware of the horror faced by those in the camp. “Sexual abuse, rape, bashings, dehumanisation and medical mishaps, are all things that people were subjected to. For thirteen months I watched the children I taught become shadows of their former selves, rotting from the inside out and losing hope of ever gaining freedom.”
Motivated by the injustice that lay before her, Gabby smuggled a camera into the high security centre to capture the inhumane conditions. Despite the risk of a 2 year jail sentence, Gabby worked tirelessly with a group of incarcerated women and leaked the photos to the Australian media. The images were some of the first seen by Australians of the abhorrent conditions on Nauru and culminated in the ‘Kids Off Nauru Campaign’. Due to Gabby’s courage and determination, the campaign was successful and saw all children removed from Nauru.
Gabby’s love of art is what has helped her through her experience. “The concept behind my art is about humanising, building resilience, finding joy in the day and building kindness through storytelling, no matter how hard life gets.” She has also set up a social enterprise in support of the women on Nauru. The women create visual art to support their mental health and to find meaning, purpose and self-expression in their everyday life. The artwork and printed fabric is also sold online and all profits are received by the artists.
Caitlin SmithLearn More
“We are survivors, and we are so much stronger than anyone (including ourselves) gives us credit for.”
Despite experiencing discrimination and often feeling like an outsider, Caitlin Smith describes herself as ‘lucky’ when she reflects on her childhood. “I was taught my culture, and taught to be proud of my culture”. A quiet child, who also suffered from illness, Caitlin couldn’t run around and keep up with other children. Instead, she kept herself busy reading, writing, drawing and daydreaming. “I was often told in my high school years that I was stupid, I was accused of cheating, and I was told that I shouldn’t try and reach too high in life because I wasn’t smart enough to succeed”. Bullied by other students throughout primary and secondary for being Aboriginal, Caitlin found her network when she went to university. It was there that she worked tirelessly on her Bachelor of Science, and became the first person in her family to attend and graduate university.
Caitlin has supported a number of campaigns that challenge injustice including sponsoring a child, donating to animal and earth conservation organisations, and volunteering her time at the Cancer Council. She first joined Amnesty in 2019. “I was sick of hearing about our young mob killing themselves”. After reading about the death of a 10 year old child in the Kimberley, she decided it was time for her to act. “I was 13 years old when I first thought about suicide, so I understand where those children are in life. I know what they are feeling, and I want to do anything I can to help”. Caitlin marched in the #BlackLivesMatter protests in Perth, has worked on Amnesty’s campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years old, and partnered with Social Reinvestment WA on a campaign to end the imprisonment of people who have unpaid fines. She was on the steps of Parliament when the vote passed to amend this bill, and considers it a life highlight. Caitlin stresses the importance of challenging injustices in both big and small ways. Recently, she’s felt motivated to challenge micro-aggressions in social settings, even when they come from the people she cares about.
At 31 years old, Caitlin says she’s finally learning and embracing her own worth, and growing into her own voice. She believes that a simple but impactful way you can challenge injustice, is by speaking up about it. Her vision for the world is one where nobody is discriminated against for the colour of their skin, the person they love, or their religious beliefs. Above all else, Caitlin values kindness: “I believe we should treat everyone and everything with kindness, not just humans but animals as well, right down to insects, and even plants.”
Samah ShdaLearn More
“Any act to challenge injustice whether it is donating, volunteering, or advocating for a cause starts with the willingness to listen and learn”.
Samah Shda grew up in an Assyrian family in Baghdad, Iraq. Her life changed forever in 2003, when the US military intervened in the country and Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship collapsed. In the years that followed, schools, hospitals, shops and any form of normality became a target for violent and extremist militias. In 2010, Samah’s life changed all over again – but this time, a scholarship opportunity in the United States helped her to escape the violence of war in her home country. After graduating with a degree in political science from Grinnell College, Samah returned to Iraq to participate in aid efforts caused by the Islamic State invasion. When the threat of extremist groups reached her ancestral village in the north, her family left to seek asylum in Turkey. After years of displacement and uncertainty, Samah and her family arrived in Australia in 2019.
Today, Samah is a public speaker with the Refugee Council of Australia where she shares her personal journey of resettlement with young students, community members or government employees. “I believe programs that target refugee education, re-integration and socio-economic participation will enable refugees to make informed decisions and gain agency in determining their futures, and be agents of peace in their communities.” Samah is passionate about refugee access to education, and its impact on their chances of meaningful employment and social mobility. She is currently leading a research project which examines refugee access to Australia’s higher education institutes. She has also been a volunteer and refugee advocate for organisations including Amnesty, Settlement Services International and Asylum Seekers’ Centre where she’s focussed on campaigns, research and projects that empower refugee communities and promote refugee participation.
Over the past six years, Samah’s work with refugees and asylum seekers has led her to believe that any sustainable positive change cannot last without the input, leadership and investment of the target community. She stresses the importance of people with lived experience having the essential expertise in creating projects that guarantee the safety, dignity and access of everyone involved; and she’s passionate about ensuring inclusive programs that allow for the equal opportunity of refugees to be true participants and decision makers. Samah wants to see a world where refugees have access to higher education and the power it provides in transforming communities affected by war and trauma. “I continue to be motivated to give back to my community by using my story and my skills, to allow others the same access and opportunities of leadership that have empowered me”.
Danielle BeggLearn More
“I grew up in Brisbane with parents who work together running a social justice not for profit organization, so challenging injustice has always been an important part of my life”
Danielle Begg is no stranger to raising her voice in order to challenge the injustices around her. As a teenager, in response to Pauline Hanson’s arrival into the political arena, she established ‘The Australian Teens Advocating Change’ with some friends. The group, composed entirely of young people, travelled across Australia and talked with other young people about challenging racism and inequality in their communities. She was later invited to speak on national breakfast show Sunrise to discuss racism, as a representative of a not-for-profit she had co-established. “I was astonished that anyone would care what I thought! It turned out lots of people cared and felt a similar way. This experience helped me to realise the power of my voice, and that I didn’t have to be a passive observer of injustice.”
Today, Danielle is the co-founder and CEO of The Yoga Impact Charity, a not-for-profit that provides evidence based and trauma informed yoga programs. The charity works with groups healing from torture and trauma; including refugees and asylum seekers, survivors of domestic violence, people in detention and Indigenous peoples. Since the outbreak of COVID 19, the charity has serviced over 1,000 healthcare workers on the frontline of the virus. Danielle advocates strongly for the positive impacts on health that yoga can have on people who have experienced trauma. “Unfortunately, yoga tends to be expensive and reserved for those with the time and money to practice. This lack of access motivated me to establish The Yoga Impact Charity in order to empower diverse groups of people with the tools to experience healing.”
For Danielle, challenging injustice is as simple as taking the time to explore a subject more deeply in conversation with friends, connecting with like-minded people, and investing time and money in organisations and products that align with your values. She cares deeply about creating access to psychological and physical health, and wants to see a world where there is more diverse leadership. “I’d love to see leadership that is more compassionate and in tune with the needs of the earth; the health, welfare and education of all people, and the protection of our animals and natural resources.”
Bianca HuntLearn More
“I want to show and teach my children that we can make a difference, and that we have a world full of people taking action – and it all counts”.
Bianca Hunt is a proud Gumbaynggirr woman, born in Broken Hill and raised in Mildura. Her mother was part of the stolen generation; removed from her family and community at the age of 7 years old, and placed in the foster care system. Bianca has been impacted by domestic violence at various points in her life, and lived in refuges as a child. Her mother would go on to open up their home to other survivors. Bianca gave birth to her first child at just 15 years old, and was the first person in her family to receive a year 12 certificate in secondary school. Today, Bianca is a Crisis Support Supervisor, teacher and activist of many sorts, as well as a mother of seven. Despite the various hardships and injustices she’s experienced throughout her life, she continues to be a beacon of strength and inspiration for her children and community.
Bianca’s first brush with challenging injustice was at the age of 18, when she volunteered for a program called BACHUS which aimed to ensure Indigenous youth got home safely, and that police interactions were limited. Bianca was responsible for checking on the wellbeing of Indigenous people arrested, which lead her on a path to become a QPR (Question Persuade, Refer) Suicide Awareness Trainer, which has equipped her with skills to identify warnings signs and ask the right questions. Bianca has tailored this training to meet the culturally appropriate needs of both LGBTI and Indigenous communities. This year, Bianca worked as a QPR Project and Engagement Officer throughout various bushfire affected communities. Bianca is extremely passionate about mental health and suicide prevention. “The Northern Territory is five times more likely to lose people to suicide. Our young people are vulnerable and at high risk of suicide, and it is still in many cases a taboo subject.” In addition to her QPR and other suicide prevention work, Bianca is also a TAFE teacher, where she promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety work.
Bianca wants to see a world with a culture that values groups over individual interests – especially in the face of crisis, injustice and inequality. She strives for a society with a social conscience, that recognises our most vulnerable people and how we can support them. She cites education, employment, self-determination and not wanting to continue intergenerational trauma as motivators for her strength and resilience. When it comes to challenging injustice, Bianca believes inequality is at its crux: “If we can continue to reduce inequality, we can reduce poverty and increase education that will in turn reduce poor mental health and suicide.”
Hannah WahlstenLearn More
“My first motivation was that I am part of this community and it didn’t feel right not fighting for it, also that I needed to honour all the people that came before me and fought for the rights I have now.”
Growing up on a farm in Western Australia’s wheat belt, thirty minutes from the nearest town of Merredin, Hannah’s childhood was one of freedom – she spent her days riding motorcycles, go-carts and exploring with her two older brothers and cousins. It was during her gap year between high school and university and only a month before her 18th birthday, that her father suffered global brain trauma in a vehicular accident. Then three years later and one week before her 21st birthday, he succumbed to his injuries and sadly passed away. One year after his death, Hannah came out as Bisexual. Years later, she discovered her own Grey Asexuality, and now identifies as Bi + Grey Ace.
“The primary issue I care about, are all of the issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community both here in Australia, and around the world.” Hannah first became involved in LGBTIQA+ activism after she left Murdoch University. She joined Amnesty to build LGBTIQA+ action groups across Murdoch University and Curtin Campuses, before joining the LGBTQIA+ Action Group in Perth. Over time, she became the group convener. Through this work, Hannah has strongly supported the transgender community, whose rights she believes often sit “on the back-burner”. Recently, the group organised a ‘Trans Ally Training’ for Wear it Purple Day, in collaboration with WA organisation TransFolk of WA. Hannah is also a member of the Amnesty LGBTQIA+ National Network, of which she is one of the founding members. “Inclusion is very important to me. I want rights holders to be heard on the issues that impact them, and I want change guided by them and for them”.
When Hannah isn’t challenging the injustices faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, she trains in various martial arts including Krav Maga, Japanese Jujitsu Weapons, Kickboxing, and others. Hannah also works as a swimming instructor with the Department of Education. The key to challenging injustice for Hannah, is inclusion. Hannah tries to give her students a safe, fun and engaging environment in which to learn, no matter their background and circumstances. She wants to see a world where rights holders are heard on the issues that impact them, that change is guided by them and for them. “I hope my willingness to be open about who I am, and about my identities empowers others to do the same. For me, knowing that I am not alone keeps me going”.
Fin SpaldingLearn More
“If you fail to win a campaign, it can often feel as though the world will fall apart. However, you have to remember that powerful movements and change makers, always suffer some form of failure before having an instrumental win and you have to reconvene and create new tactics and continue organising.”
Fin Spalding immigrated to Australia from the UK in 2015; after moving back and forth between the two with his family since 2005. His foray into challenging injustice started when some school friends became victims of homophobic slurs. Together, they ran a campaign against homophobia where they displayed stickers, posters and pamphlets across the school. Fin reflects that while homophobic language was still entrenched within the school system, the campaign started critical conversations around homophobia, and what kind of language is acceptable. Fin remains grateful for his English and Literature teachers, who he says provided safe spaces for queer students when others didn’t. “After I left that particular school, I became engulfed in queer rage that comes with being in the closet, and being in a toxic environment. I had three options: I could complain, sit in silence or take action. I decided to go for the latter.”
After coming out in 2018, and marching in his first pride event at Midsumma in 2019, Fin joined Amnesty as a volunteer. Today, Fin is a lead for Amnesty’s LGBTIQ network, as well as a member of the Youth Advisory Group who developed Amnesty’s Youth Strategy. Fin stresses the importance of collaboration in activism: “The voices and leadership of young people are crucial to any issue. I hope young people can see they are capable and powerful enough to change society and influence policy.”
Fin wants to see a world where queer people are all equally voiced, included and represented. Where queer history is taught in schools, and queer relationships and diverse sexual orientations, genders, gender expressions and bodies are viewed by society as normal. For Fin, hope underpins his drive to challenge injustice. “If it were not for hope, I would not be able to tell the closeted queer student, in a school which preys on those who are different, that they will be okay, and that once they leave the confines of the school yard, that they will flourish beyond their wildest dreams.”
Erika RodriguezLearn More
“We are in an unprecedented period of change with an opportunity to reshape society for the better. This means: a healthy planet for all, security and equality for marginalised and vulnerable groups, and justice for crimes against humanity.”
Erika Rodriguez is a Latina woman, who grew up in a single-parent home in the United States. As far back as she can remember, Erika experienced racial profiling on the basis of her surname. Despite all of this, she considers herself lucky for growing up surrounded by a supportive family and group of friends.
It was in high school when Erika first learned the tragic history of her best friends as they shared with her their story of arriving in the United States as refugees, after fleeing Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This was the first interaction that I had with victims of forced displacement because of a conflict. I did not realise how deeply this would impact my perspective of the world”. After her Master’s degree, Erika pursued a career in higher education, where she taught students about forced displacement. Since then, she’s continued to challenge injustice in the refugee space and beyond.
Erika has worked at Greenpeace, in a role that saw her standing up to bullying by the fossil fuel lobby. At the same time, she volunteered with Amnesty and learned of opportunities to contribute to the women’s rights effort. Erika organised a flower folding lunch for the Yasaman Aryani campaign, where she got the entire Greenpeace Australia Pacific team involved. Together they folded over 200 origami flowers in solidarity with the Iranian women’s rights activist. On International Women’s Day, Erika held another flower folding event. She then joined the march to distribute the flowers, just as Aryani had before she was sentenced to prison. Today, Erika works as a Relief Coordinator for Asylum Seekers Centre.
Erika believes that one of the best ways to help challenge the injustices that vulnerable communities face, is to be a ‘messenger’ – “Absorb every bit of knowledge, travel internationally (when it’s permitted again) and listen to people’s stories so you can share them with your peers, family, and your community. The more we all know, the more we can equip ourselves with the tools to challenge these injustices”
Cheree TokaLearn More
“My hope is to educate younger Australians about Aboriginal heritage, and the spirituality of our culture, as well as bring their attention to the injustices we face”
Cheree Toka is a proud Kamilaroi yinarr (woman) with family ties to Gunnedah and Moree, North Western NSW. Raised in the Wollondilly Shire, Cheree is from Warragamba – hailing from the Aboriginal words ‘Warra’ and ‘Gamba’, meaning water running over rocks. Cheree keeps an active lifestyle, and is passionate about educating herself about nutrition. She cares deeply about the history of Indigenous Peoples, and the triumphs and survival of her ancestors in what she regards as “the continuous battle for equality in Australia”.
Cheree started challenging injustice three years ago, when she learned that the Aboriginal flag only flies for 19 days a year. “This made me realise that Australia has a long way to go in respecting and acknowledging the true custodians of the land”. For Cheree, the Aboriginal flag is more than just a symbol – it’s a reminder that Australia has a history beyond European invasion, and that Australians have the right to learn about the true ancestral past of the country they call home. Cheree launched a petition to NSW Parliament to fly the Aboriginal flag permanently on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Since then, it’s gained huge support. “I thought long and hard about what could be done to unite Australia, a no brainer and something that I believed could be achieved fairly”. At 160,000 signatures strong, the petition was tabled and debated in Parliament in 2019. Unfortunately, the final conclusion was that it’s too costly to add an extra flagpole. Cheree has since started her own GoFundMe page to raise the money. “I will be pushing hard to overcome this final hurdle to fly the flag permanently, and won’t give up until the day I see it proudly soaring in the wind.”
Cheree wants to see an Australia where the narratives around Indigenous people shift to showcase strength, resilience, pride and leadership. She wants to empower young women to have a greater say in what is going on around them, and to educate young Australians about Aboriginal heritage and spirituality. As for her campaign to fly the flag, she wants it to spark debate about the many injustices Indigenous people face – inspiring others to take action alongside her.