November update from our Board

The Board held its 4th quarter meeting over the weekend of 26 and 27 November, and we have some exciting updates to share.

As you know, in our 2020 Vision we have committed to protect and defend more lives. To meet this important goal, we approved key project plans for the upcoming year:

  • Continue our work on Community is Everything, our campaign to end the over-representation of Indigenous young people in detention within a generation.
  • Be part of a global campaign for refugee rights. In Australia we will focus on closing Manus and Nauru, and develop a coordinated, responsibility-sharing regional approach to strengthen refugee protections for asylum seekers and refugees.
  • Continue to take on cases defending individuals at risk all over the world, and push for a moratorium on the death penalty in Japan.
  • Stand up for the rights of civilians in conflict-ridden Syria.

To achieve our goals and be the unstoppable movement for human rights we want to be we have to make sure we have the support necessary to be a strong and effective campaigning organisation. To do this, we approved operational plans to:

  • Develop a high-quality database to support our work; and
  • Inspire outstanding and long-term passion and commitment in our members, activists and supporters.

This includes:

  • An exciting plan to grow our membership base and expand the base of members who are actively involved in our governance processes;
  • Continuing to raise funds to build a strong human rights movement across the world, particularly supporting human rights defenders in the global south and east; and
  • Strengthen the engagement of all our supporters including activists who are critical to our core human rights work.
Amnesty International Australia Board © Emma Davies Photography
The Amnesty International Australia Board © Emma Davies Photography

In addition to approving our important plans for 2017, the Board concluded a 360 degree review of our performance, individually and collectively. This was a great learning experience for us, and we will continue to work toward being a Board that demonstrates the values of Amnesty International Australia: that is, empowerment focused, persistent, acting with integrity, and courageous.

Work is also continuing on a review of our national governance structures to ensure we have fit for purpose decision making processes in place as we work towards our 2020 Vision. Given the significance and complexity of this task, the Board’s Governance Committee has engaged the services of the Australian Institute of Company Directors to provide advice on how best to structure our national governance. This advice will be based on research both within our movement and externally.

We can announce our 2017 National AGM will be held in the Sydney Action Centre in Chippendale over the weekend of 1 and 2 July. All members are warmly invited to attend, so put it in your diary! We will try our best to involve members who cannot attend in person where possible.

Finally, we note some significant departures from the organisation.

David Robertson, who has been a member of the Board for four and a half years, has recently resigned from his position. Dave’s contribution – particularly in relation to grassroots organising and his passion for the Community is Everything campaign – has been a great asset to our Board and we thank him for all of his work.

Two long-standing members of the Amnesty Australia staff team – Andrew Beswick, Director Community Engagement & Media Relations, and Desley Mather, Director Campaigns & Government Relations – left us in November. They have both made outstanding contributions to not only Amnesty Australia but also our entire international movement and will be greatly missed. In particular, over his 19 years with the organisation, Andrew has been at the heart of our strategy to deepen and grow our grassroots networks across Australia. Desley has been a passionate advocate for all our campaigns and has driven our work around refugee rights and Indigenous rights over the last 13 years. We look forward to seeing what wonderful work they achieve next.

I hope you all have an opportunity for some rest and relaxation over the holiday period, and I look forward to working with you in 2017 to protect human rights around the world.

Gabe Kavanagh

National President
Amnesty International Australia