Refugee Camp in My School
A simulated refugee camp, providing high school students with the opportunity to experience what a camp feels like and the many challenges and difficulties refugees face, and to dispel myths and stereotypes. The project will be run by the Gymea Community Aid & Information Service (NSW) in conjunction with Kirrawee and Caringbah High Schools.
This documentary film tells the intertwining stories of twelve ‘boat people’ who are now Australian citizens. Amnesty’s grant assisted the development of the documentary as an educational tool for use in school and community settings. Working with the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) and educational distributor Ronin Films, Freedom Stories is now on DVD with an accompanying study guide.
Rights of Indigenous Peoples Memes
Kalinya Commications partner with Luke Pearson, founder of ground-breaking Twitter account @IndigenousX, to develop, design and promote shareable social media content to make the Declaration of Indigenous Human Rights accessible to a broad audience via tweets, GIFs and images.
Barberry Films have received a grant for a short film composed entirely of content shot on mobile phones on Manus Is. and/or Nauru, focusing on what the subjects had dreamt of during the last 100 days – to study, start a family, to find a job in their profession or merely to feel safe and valued.
Integrity 20 is an annual 3-day event that examines some of the greatest global issues of our time. With human rights and global insecurity at the heart of the 2016 program, Amnesty provided funds to bring two international human rights activists to speak – Ma Thida, a Burmese surgeon, write, human rights activist and a former prisoner of conscience, and Rafael Marques de Marais, a multi-award winning human rights activist, and investigative journalist.
Amnesty’s grant provided support for 10 delegates from WA, NT and Tasmania to attend this national 3 day summit hosted by the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Australia. FUSE 2016 will bring together emerging young leaders from refugee/asylum seeker and migrant backgrounds to develop and apply their advocacy and leadership skills, build human rights awareness, engage with MPs and decision-makers, and develop action plans for active citizenship and local, state and national levels.
Home Among the Gun Trees NSW
This program offers brief holidays for Sydney-based asylum seekers and their families with Australian families in country and regional NSW, who offer friendship and hospitality. Amnesty’s grant will enable this volunteer group to develop and expand their network of support groups throughout rural and coastal areas of NSW.
Behind The Wire
Bringing a new perspective to the public understanding of mandatory detention, this project will document the stories of men, women and children who have experienced mandatory detention in Australia over the past 22 years. The oral histories will be acquired by the Immigration Museum of Victoria, with further interactive digital designed as an education resource.
Crossing Borders Monash
Crossing Borders Monash is an initiative by medical students to remove barriers and advance health standards of refugees and asylum seekers. The annual Victorian Refugee health Symposium, aims to equip medical students with the knowledge and skills required to give the best possible care to refuges and asylum seeker patients.
Community is Everything
The following two projects were funded by the Human Rights Innovation Fund as part of Amnesty’s Indigenous Youth Justice campaign, Community is Everything, which aims to end the over-representation of Indigenous young people in detention within a generation.
Support for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency for the production of a short animated film about Justice Reinvestment (JR) and its application to Indigenous youth offending and incarceration. The film will be used to educate Indigenous community members about the approach of JR and its use to reduce levels of imprisonment of Indigenous youth.
Diversion from Detention
One girls’ and one boys’ camp for teenagers identified by community leaders, the school and local police as being particularly at risk of being detained by the juvenile justice system. The camps will be run by the Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation in conjunction with experts from the WA Derby community, the Boab network and Indigenous leaders.
This funding was granted to enable two Indigenous translators from Papunya to travel to Canberra to translate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into the Pintupi-Luritja — a central Australian Aboriginal dialect of the Western Desert language group, and the first language of about 2000 people. The Declaration set a world record in 2009 for being the most translated document in the world, and this is the first translation into an Australian Aboriginal dialect.
The completed translation was published on the United Nations website and distributed to schools, youth programs, police, and regional land councils in Central Australia.
Football United NSW
Support for the International Human Rights Day Football Festival, a project to promote awareness and understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Amnesty International’s role and activities among disadvantaged and diverse youth from eight high schools in Sydney’s Southwest and West.
A Fairer World, Tas
Key infrastructure support for the Hobart Human Library, an exciting and innovative international human rights program. Established by a joint collaboration of a diverse group of diversity/human rights organisations, it is essentially a living library, with people rather than books, who tell their stories to school children or individuals at public events and festivals.
Apollo Bay Rural Australians for Refugees, Vic
A multi-day human rights Festival of Hope during Refugee Week in Apollo Bay, which will combine the creative arts with lively debate and information, with a particular focus on celebrating the contributions of refugees and asylum seekers to the community.
Racing Pulse Productions
The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe is a theatre work based on the personal stories of four African women, addressing the effects of trauma, what it means to be a survivor of horrific abuse while attempting to build a new life in a new country.
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (SA) Inc
Production and wide distribution of a 2013/14 Aboriginal Treaty Calendar which will carry significant Aboriginal dates and promote a range of Reconciliation and human rights issues.
Amnesty International groups in Western Australia
A human rights and cultural diversity musical event to be held at the Fremantle Arts Centre in November 2012. Songs for Freedom will be supported by Amnesty’s refugee network, its school and local groups, the Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors, the Refugee Rights Action Network and other refugee support and community groups.
Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation
Production of 3-5 minute ‘diary entry style’ audio segments for radio broadcast. Radio Diaries – Walk In Our Shoes aims to achieve a practical impact on the right to culture of Indigenous people, by capturing different experiences and aspects of the daily lives of Indigenous diarists, drawn from a diverse cross-section of the Indigenous population in Darwin.
With Rio Tinto wanting to re-open the Panguna Mine, two Bougainvilleans from the region of the mine will come to Australia to raise awareness of the past abuses of human rights, land appropriation, poisoned rivers, village relocations and social disruption which took place before the mine closed in 1989.
Purple Heart Productions, Vic
Funds to complete a feature length documentary which follows the West Papuan Freedom Flotilla journey to Indonesia, to draw attention to the 50-year long genocide of West Papuan people.
Mercy Family Services – Romero Centre, Qld
Support for the Intercultural Dialogue segment of a larger participatory media project and intercultural leadership forum for young people titled Brave New Welcome, which will promote the voices of young people in the human rights agenda across multiple sectors in Queensland.
An Amnesty International initiative now running in several states, which combines art and action on human rights. ARTillery in SA launches with an outdoor concert and a ‘Write for Rights’ campaign to mark International Human Rights Day.
Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia
To support the Community Café Dialogues program which provides an innovative and creative environment to encourage meaningful conversations about challenging issues, involving members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, migrant and refugee, new, emerging and firmly established communities in Brisbane.
Nyoongar Tent Embassy, WA
Workshops to build human rights dialogue and discussion amongst Nyoongar people covering native title, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Nyoongar sovereignty, WA legislation and the work of Amnesty International.
Women’s Legal Services NSW
To produce a smartphone ‘App’ designed to support and complement the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010–2022 by empowering the community to voice their concerns and ideas.
NSW Reconcilation Council
Funds to enable the inclusion of a human rights strand in each of four workshops as part of the Wreck Bay reconciliation festival in November 2013.
The Bahraini Australian Youth Movement
Public seminars and meetings will be organised with interest groups for Rula al Saffar, President of Bahrain Nursing Society, to raise awareness and build solidarity with Bahrain’s ‘forgotten Arab Spring’, which faces ongoing violent repression in Bahrain.
All Together Now Inc.
Reducing Racism in Australian Families and Communities – a social media package to promote the rights and responsibilities of individuals as members of a tolerant, inclusive society. Will engage with young people and empower them to speak out about racism in a positive and courageous way.
Peace Brigades International – Australia
Human Rights Defenders at Risk – three high-profile public events specifically to build the membership of the Political Support Network, which provides crucial and highly organised advocacy and influence to enhance the protection of human rights defenders in PBI’s project countries – Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico and Nepal.
ActNow Theatre for Social Change
Safe and Free – development of script/performance and three pilot presentations to school students on bullying, using homophobia as a case study.
Central Land Council, the Urapuntja Aboriginal Corporation, Utoptia outstation residents and North East Arnhem Land homelands
More Than Bricks and Mortar – The issue of shelter and housing is a significant priority for Aboriginal peple in the NT, and this project will bring together two strong Aboriginal groups and leaders to meet, share and exchange their experiences and knowlege on housing and human rights issues.
Manuwangku: Our Country is Our Spirit – a mobile photo exhibition produced by Jagath Dheerasekara, documentary photographer and human rights defender, to engage the Australian public in support of the Aboriginal community of Muckaty (Manuwangkyu) to defend their country from radioactive waste dumping. The photo exhibition will give the Aboriginal communities’ affected a collective voice against the proposed waste dump. It will be toured by the Beyond Nuclear Initiative over three years.
Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA Inc
Build Communities Not Prisons: Justice Reinvestment – education and consultative forums and the formation of a WA Human Rights Community Justice Coalition to lobby government and other stakeholders on justice reinvestment. An approach to reduce prison and corrections spending and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and strengthen communities.
Australians for native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR)
Success Stories: Aboriginal Communities in Control – publication of case studies of Indigenous community-led initiatives in the Northern Territory and other materials targeting policy and decision-makers, demonstrating the benefits of more evidence and human rights-based approaches rather than the predominant top-down interventions.
Australian Corporate Accountability Network, VIC
Launch of Australia’s first multi-disciplinary network of civil society organisations who will work collaboratively on projects that encourage greater corporate accountability for human rights abuses.
Just Sustainability Australia
JSA work broadly in the area of anthropogenic climate change and its human rights implications. The grant will enable two speakers, one from Asia and one from the Pacific, to address the current and likely future human rights impacts of climate change of Australia and countries in our region to audiences in several capital cities.
Mallee Family Care Incorporated
The Mildura Human Rights Festival – a range of activities in and near Mildura including film screenings and workshops, a civic reception and a human rights media campaign, all designed to increase awareness and knowledge of human rights in the community. On International Human Rights Day, 10th December, there will be an outdoor film and arts festival involving dancing, story-telling, poetry, music, visual arts and cooking!
Reconciliation South Australia
Funding to assist with the development of resources for an Adelaide and regional seminar series, part of the 90%+ Campaign. The seminars are designed to build conversations in the community about the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition within the Australian Constitution and the repeal of discriminatory clauses within it.
Hobart College Students Against Racism
Production of a DVD version of a proven successful student workshop on why people leave their homelands, the journey that brought them to Australia and settling in a new country. Additional resource materials and ideas for activities providing a teacher/student resource for Australian high schools.
Burma Campaign Australia
This project will raise awareness of the human rights crisis in Eastern Burma via street stalls in five capital cities, culminating in a photo petition to the Australian Government.
East Turkistan Australian Association
Support for an exhibition at the Migration Museum in South Australia about Uighur culture, history, the community’s contribution to Australia’s multicultural society and the human rights issues facing the Uighur.
Billard Learning Centre
Funding to assist this innovative learning facility near Beagle Bay in WA to prepare a life-affirming mural generated by participants in indigenous suicide-prevention summits.
ACTNow Theatre for Social Change, SA
Right Act – Five political theatre workshops to empower and engage young people, enabling them to develop and utilise theatre for social change.
Banksia Gardens Community Centre, VIC
Stand Up and Be Counted – A series of human rights workshops, a story competition and publication, which uses human rights awareness to empower the community to take ownership of the challenges they face, helping them enact positive change.
Darfur Australia Network, VIC
Far to Here – A photographic exhibition by the Darfur community which shed light on how refugees from Darfur bridge the divide between memories of conflict and loss, knowledge of ongoing violence in their homeland, and beginning a new life in Australia.
Youth Arts Team, Youth Action Network Amnesty International, WA
ARTillery Youth Arts Festival – A creative celebration of human rights and the arts in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which included workshops, actions and performances.
Larrakia National Aboriginal Corporation, NT
Human Rights Flavoured Citizen Journalism – training 15 Indigenous young people to use creative digital media in order to foster a community of interest in human rights in the Top End.
Voice of Women Organisation (Australia) Association, SA
National speaking tour – A national speaking tour by Suraya Pakzad, a globally-recognised human rights activist who founded the Voice of Women Organsation NGO in the then Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in 1998.
Glow Worm Productions, VIC
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a documentary film providing a visceral insight into the terrible and frightening journey of an asylum seeker from detention in Indonesia to Australia.
Banksia Gardens Community Centre, VIC
Stand Up and Be Counted: Youth Educate for Hume’N’Rights in Schools is a pilot program introducing human rights education into Victorian secondary schools.
Humanitarian Crisis Hub, VIC
Communities with Power is a project which aimed to increase and improve the capacity of community-based groups, to collaborate and campaign on human rights protection in international humanitarian emergencies.
Friends of ‘Comfort Women’ in Australia, VIC
Our fund gave an opportunity for the group to invite a ‘Comfort Women’ survivor from Korea to Australia, to speak to Australian MPs in support of the passage of a parliamentary motion on this issue.
Bright young multicultural leaders
In October 2014, we partnered with the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (Australia) (MYAN) to fund travel and accommodation costs for 10 delegates from WA, NT and TAS to attend ‘FUSE’, a national multicultural youth summit in Sydney.
The 3 day summit continued MYAN’s work to build a national network of young advocates and change-makers and the summit was designed to build the skills, knowledge and confidence of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds from across Australia to engage in advocacy and active citizenship, at the local, state and levels.
The 40 young people who attended, represented all states and territories. Aged between 19 and 25 years, the 40 delegates (22 females and 18 males) were from diverse faith, migration, education and cultural backgrounds, including Polish, Nepalese, south Sudanese, Brazilian, Afghan, Somali, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Oromor and Bhutanese. Some had been born in Australia to migrant parents, others had migrated as refugees when they were very young and others were reltively newly arrived, having come to Australia within the last two years as asylum seekers.
Delegates enjoyed a range of stimulating workshops and activities in such areas as leadership in a multicultural context, the what and how of advocacy, public speaking and establishing/participating in networks and relationships.
One panel session, for example, enabled delegates to apply their (newly acquired) advocacy skills and knowledge (including public speaking and effective communication) to engage with MPs/decision makers and to present key issues/recommendations to MPs. Panelists were: Senator Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, responsibilities for settlement and multicultural services; Mr Craig Laundy, Member for Reid NSW; Mr. Matt Kean Member for Hornsby; Ms. Megan Mitchell, National Commissioner for Children.
Earlier in the program, two delegates were interviewed by ABC local radio, supported by the MYAN’s Media Advisor and the MYAN NSW Executive Officer.
MYAN reports that the young people came away highly motivated and with a sense that they can actually help make change. They have stayed engaged with MYAN, either through their connection with local/state MYAN networks or through the national MYAN Coordinator. Activities at the state/territory level include the establishment of a MYAN ACT Youth Advisory Group; several FUSE delegates have been co-opted onto the MYAN NSW Board; WA delegates have formed the MYAN WA Youth Action Group and are planning a MYAN WA FUSE conference in 2015.
At the national level, MYAN Australia is establishing a national Youth Advisory Group with support from FUSE delegate from NT, WA, QLD, VIC and TAS, and the group is currently working on Terms of Reference.
Don’t judge a book by its cover!
The Hobart Human Library is a library just like any other – except the books are real, living people!
In 2014, Amnesty International provided a grant to enable the library to purchase promotional banners and a trailer to transport “pop-up” library equipment, and to pay speaker fees to ‘books’ for four pilot events at schools.
Human libraries are used around the world as a simple way for people to build understanding and face their prejudices. They do this by providing a comfortable space for students to speak informally with a “book” who has encountered prejudice or stereotyping because of their culture, religion, refugee background, gender, sexual orientation or mental ability.
Students can extend their appreciation of diversity and human rights, explore what makes up identity and how this can shape our experiences of inclusion and exclusion.
The books who visit schools as part of the Hobart Human Library are mostly young people, as experience shows that being peers enhances the experience. All books have been trained so that they are confident in telling their story and dealing with the usual range of questions from students.
The Hobart Human Library currently has 22 titles available, including ‘books’ telling their stories and experiences of gender change, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, religion, refugee and migrant experiences. Below is one of the “books” students “read”.
The Winning Attitude of a Survivor (Cedrick)
Description: In life it’s your decisions not your conditions that count. How I met the challenge of being a refugee and resettling in Tasmania, one challenge at a time.
The four pilot visits to three high schools and one primary school by the Hobart Human Library, launched by the Minister for Education and Skills, The Hon Jeremy Rockliff, received excellent feedback from students and staff:
“I realised that what you say CAN hurt and CAN affect people and their feelings.”
“What a wild ride, on edge of my seat from first to last page!”
“I will stand up for more people who are being bullied.”
“Listen to everybody’s story, and it doesn’t matter if people are different. And don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
Reconciliation is a multi-layered process
At its core, it is about addressing the divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – divisions that have been caused by a lack of respect, knowledge and understanding.
Amnesty International Australia supported the New South Wales Reconciliation Council (NSWRC) to hold a Recognition Festival 2014 as part of their work to promote united communities and to address the ‘unfinished business’ of reconciliation – recognition of rights, promotion of economic independence and social justice for Indigenous people.
Recognition Festival was a two-day event held in the stunning surrounds of Booderee National Park in the Jervis Bay region of South Coast NSW in February. The overnight festival was a cultural gathering that provided a cultural immersion experience through story telling in a variety of formats – oral, visual arts and music, including traditional practices – all centred on the theme of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Included in the festival was a performance by members of the Doonooch dancers, a basket-weaving workshop, a “Respect, Recognition and Reconciliation” forum with guests Mick Gooda, Gerry Moore and Lachlan McDaniel, a bushfoods and survival skills workshop, song writing with Song Division, Recognise and Frank Yamma, campfire yarns, musical performances by central desert women and Frank Yamma, yoga, and guided coastal walk with local Joe McLeod.
The Festival received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from festival participants, “Absolutely great event. Loved that it was camping and alcohol free. As non-Aboriginal, we felt very welcomed and the Wreck Bay community were very generous in their sharing of stories.”
“Well done, great event. Learnt a lot and met good people in gorgeous surrounds.”
Living in between: diversity education through storytelling
In 2011 Amnesty International Australia’s Human Rights Innovation Fund contributed funding to document this school program run by the Hobart College Students Against Racism.
First formed in 2008, the Students Against Racism group currently has 35 members most of who arrived in Tasmania as humanitarian entrants, from countries as diverse as Sudan, Afghanistan and Bhutan. As well as music and food, they share their stories about settling in Australia and the pain and pleasure of working out how to live between two cultures.
Hobart College teacher Gini Ennals, has worked with the group to develop a dramatic presentation that explains why they left their homelands, the journey that brought them to Australia and their lives now. Their aim was to be proactive in the face of the racism they encountered, which they felt came from a lack of understanding about why asylum seekers, refugees and migrants were setting in Tasmania. Australian born students have subsequently joined the group after witnessing incidents of discrimination that have shocked, ashamed and ultimately motivated them.
“By ignoring racism you’re supporting it. You might not be saying or making racist actions but you are making the problem worse by not stopping it. We all have to stand up and stop it because racism is destructive.”
With community and foundation grants, the Living in Between presentation was developed into a fuller diversity education program and comprises workshops and activities that get students out of their chairs and engaging with issues around culture, diversity, discrimination and why people settle in Australia. Run over three school visits of 90 minutes each, the program gives primary and high school students the opportunity to get to know young humanitarian entrants in a safe, facilitated environment.
Student, teacher and SAR group responses to the program have been overwhelmingly positive. This is evidenced in the moving work produced by the students (posters, poetry, essays and videos) and their comments in the program surveys.
“I learnt so much because it was young people teaching us. They made a real connection and they talked in a way we could understand. I had heard a lot about asylum seekers and refugees but actually meeting people who had been through that experience made me realize that this affects real people who all have their own story to tell. It was a great way to learn.”
Student from Huonville High
The Living in Between; Diversity Education through Storytelling project has shown the power of education opportunities in schools to challenge myths, build knowledge and change the attitudes that contribute to racism and discrimination.
DVDs of the project
Amnesty International Australia funded the making of two documentary films – an introduction to the school program and interviews with members of the Students Against Racism. These two documentaries are supplemented by a fantastic, structured guide for teachers, including an extensive list of cultural diversity and discrimination teaching resources.
The programs and teacher guide are distributed by the Tasmanian Centre for Global learning. For more information about the project, or to obtain the DVD’s, visit A Fairer World.
Bearing Witness: Promoting nonviolence and protecting human rights defenders
During 2011, Amnesty International Australia partnered with Peace Brigades International (PBI) Australia, a country group of the global organisation which provides crucial ‘protective accompaniment’ to human rights defenders.
This accompaniment combines a physical presence by an international volunteer observer to deter potential attacks, together with advocacy to ensure backing by networks of diplomatic support in case of a threat. Currently, PBI Australia has 60 – 80 international observers working with human rights defenders representing 40 grassroots human rights organisations and individuals in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Indonesia and Nepal.
The Human Rights Innovation Fund grant was used to stage a series of high profile public events specific to each of these five PBI project countries. The aim was to enhance the protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) by building PBI’s network of support within key Australian communities and sectors.
Seven events were held during 2011, each scheduled to incorporate visits by HRDs protected by PBI and with PBI volunteers returning from 12 months work in project countries. The events brought together many different community groups and individuals and were organised in conjunction with local networks, local Amnesty International groups, local project communities, support networks and Australian-based human rights experts.
Amnesty International Australia activist and board member, Sarah Holloway, highlighted Amnesty’s important human rights work in Nepal over recent years in the public forum on Defending Human Rights in Nepal in April, while Jess Lenehan, an enthusiastic youth activist and Victorian Branch member, assisted with publicising PBI’s events to AIA supporters. These events helped strengthen and build PBI Australia’s network of advocacy support, by providing a direct connection between human rights defenders and key Australian groups and individuals, and through the provision of clear, direct knowledge, experience and information to relevant audiences.
A concrete example of the human rights impact of this partnership, was the response in January 2012 to a threat to a human rights defender from the Colombian Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS). The PBI Colombia Project activated an Emergency Response, alerting the diplomatic community as well as PBI chapters, including Australia. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) responded, saying that they had immediately shared their concerns with the Colombian Consulate. DFAT staff were familiar with PBI and CREDHOS through a briefing by PBI volunteer Carly Dawson some months before. This, combined with international denouncement of the threats, contributed to the ongoing safety of the human rights defender. A six-minute video of Carly’s talk is available on PBI’s website.
Sunraysia Human Rights Week
Mildura is the main centre of Sunraysia, an area of northwestern Victoria and southwestern New South Wales, known for its sunshine, grapes and oranges.
In the six day lead up to International Human Rights Day on 10th December in 2011, the town and its environs were exposed to a range of events which together made up the Sunraysia Human Rights Festival. The product of a group of local organisations passionate about increasing awareness and understanding of human rights in their community, the Festival included film screenings, a public lecture and a human rights forum.
Mildura’s mayor hosted a Civic Reception for community and business leaders, where guests were fortunate to hear keynote speaker Les Malezer, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s first Peoples, talking about Indigenous rights, social inclusion and the upcoming changes to the Australian constitution.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission hosted a ‘Rights in the Region’ forum, and 200 students from three colleges participated in the film and education workshops conducted by the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival from Melbourne. The Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council screened Molly and Mobarak at a community movie night and the iconic Roxy Theatre at Ouyen also hosted an event.
As well as the many and varied events, the organisers ran a very effective media campaign to raise awareness of human rights, including interviews on ABC and local community radio, and a story on Human Rights Week on WIN TV plus a community service ‘advertisement’ which aired 100 times.
The local newspaper ran several human rights articles linked to the local community, and their ‘Word On The Street’ featured human rights questions for the entire week, prompting a number of texts and letters to the editor.
Giving Racism The Finger
In 2011, All Together Now – a young not-for-profit organisation established to promote the prevention of racism in Australia – used an Amnesty International Human Rights Innovation Fund grant to create a racism prevention campaign. The campaign, called Give Racism The Finger, was created in partnership with The Body Shop and Shift Communications.
Customers in all 83 of The Body Shop stores were asked to dip their finger in ink, and stamp their fingerprint on a canvas in the store to pledge their willingness to speak up whenever they witness racism.
All Together Now’s Managing Director, Priscilla Brice-Weller, believes that bystander action can help to create positive social norms. “When people speak up, they feel better knowing that they’ve taken a stand. Whoever made the remark may then think twice about expressing racist attitudes in the future, and the person on the receiving end will feel supported and hopefully less disturbed by the abuse.”
During the four-week campaign, The Body Shop collected 50,706 fingerprints and had 150,000 constructive conversations with customers about racism. The number of fingerprints collected was 254% higher than anticipated.
Employees at The Body Shop also reported an increase in their knowledge about racism and confidence about speaking up.
Building communities, not prisons
It’s been 20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Fewer Aboriginal people are dying in lock-ups and prisons, but more are in jail. And the situation for the next generation is dire – more than half the kids in juvenile detention are Indigenous.
The WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee has identified a bold, creative and pragmatic response to the policy inertia that has characterised government approaches to Aboriginal incarceration. Their program, Build Communities Not Prisons, is based on a strategy known as Justice Reinvestment – breaking the cycle of crime and escalating imprisonment rates by redirecting money, usually spent on building and running prisons, to programs that tackle the underlying causes of crime in local communities where re-offending rates are high. It is a strategy that has been tested and found to work in both the US and the UK.
It is an evidence based approach and measures performance outcomes such as the amount of imprisonment money saved; reduction in imprisonment; reduction in recidivism; and indicators of community well-being and capacity.
With the assistance of a grant from Amnesty International’s Human Rights Innovation Fund, the Watch Committee has consulted with Aboriginal people in metropolitan local government areas of Stirling and Swan in WA to identify what kinds of things might help in their community to keep people out of jail. They have produced materials, held information forums, and gained support from a wide range of community and not-for-profit organisations, churches, unions and local police.
A strong consensus on pressuring government to address the systemic causes of offending behavior and recidivism within a human rights framework, led to the establishment of the Community Justice Coalition in March 2011, and more recently, the formation of Justice Reinvestment WA. Ultimately, the Watch Committee wants a bipartisan commitment from all governments to trial a Justice Reinvestment model.
A Better Way: Success stories in Aboriginal community control in the Northern Territory
Amnesty International Australia’s Human Rights Innovation Fund enables AI Australia to partner with a diversity of Australian organisations and individuals.
In April this year, a grant was made to Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), whose focus is on changing the attitudes and behaviours of non-Indigenous Australians, so that the rights and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are respected and affirmed across all sections of society.
Amnesty’s grant, enabled the production and publication of a booklet, A Better Way: Success Stories, which was launched at the Supreme Court in Darwin on 28 October 2010
The booklet of stories showcases 13 successful Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in the Northern Territory that are working across a diverse range of sectors, to achieve sustainable outcomes for communities in culturally appropriate ways and with full community control and participation.
Individually, these organisations are tackling petrol sniffing, delivering health care, ensuring access to healthy foods, building self-reliance in times of financial crisis, supporting people to budget and eat well and delivering banking services to remote areas.
Together, they offer an alternative response to the challenges facing Aboriginal communities based on community participation and leadership.
Aboriginal communities in the NT have recently had to adjust to seismic policy shifts, including but not limited to the Northern Territory Emergency Response. Elements of the new policy environment have created additional barriers to self-determination for Aboriginal people and organisations.
Additional materials generated by the project will include a ‘policy-maker’s companion’, demonstrating the benefits of more evidence and human rights-based approaches rather than the predominant top-down interventions.
Suraya Pakzad - Voice of Women Organisation Afghanistan
Written by Jillian Schedneck and Christine Gates, members of Voice of Women (Australia)
Through her recent Australian speaking tour, Suraya Pakzad has once again demonstrated her renowned capacity to passionately advocate for the human rights of women and children in Afghanistan.
Funded by Amnesty International Australia’s Human Rights Innovation Fund, Suraya’s national tour included public lectures in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. Through her insightful messages and compelling style, Suraya gained many Australian supporters for her grass roots projects offering Afghani women and children safety, health, legal and economic opportunities.
Key messages from her talks focused on the extraordinary obstacles Suraya and other prominent Afghan women like herself face on a daily basis in order to continue their work, and how the position of Afghani women has not significantly progressed since foreign intervention in 2001.
She also suggested ways in which the international community can engage on a more equitable and effective level with the people of Afghanistan. She expressed sympathy and regret to the families of the Australian soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan, but emphasised that strategic Australian involvement was still needed to establish critical and globally beneficial peace in Afghanistan.
Suraya first became a human rights activist in 1998, when she established a clandestine girls’ school in the living room of her home. This resistance against Taliban rule marked the beginnings of her organisation, Voice of Women Organisation (VWO). Twelve years later, this brave and tireless campaigner for women’s human rights, routinely faces threats of sabotage and death – from relatives of the at-risk women she helps and from local conservative and extremist factions.
Suraya explains, “People who are against women’s rights are not happy with what I do. The warlords, the commanders and the people who have guns are powerful. They don’t like our services”.
Despite these obstacles, VWO now offers a wide range of services, including access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation (in a country of open sewers), projects on income generation and food sustainability, and education and job training for women and girls. VWO provides a safehouse in Herat city for at-risk women and girls, victims of violence and women escaping abuse, who need immediate protection.
The organisation also runs a Family Conflict Resolution Centre, providing psycho-social counselling, legal aid and vocational training. It runs programs to prevent self-immolation and programs that assist women who are in prison, many of whom are behind bars because they are victims of rape or domestic violence.
In recognition of these incredible humanitarian efforts, Suraya received the Clinton Global Citizen Award in September this year, as well as the USA Women of Courage award and the National Medal (Malali Medal) in Afghanistan in 2008. She was named among Time Magazine’s ‘100 most influential people of 2009’.
In addition to her extensive activism, Suraya has also produced some outstanding work in Persian poetry. Below is the translation of one of her poems that she wrote for her youngest daughter:
- We shall prepare the path for you and your children
- We shall fight now so that you shall survive
- We shall die now so that you shall live
To find out more about the work of Suraya and her team, go to the Voices of Women Organisation website.