Monday, December 14, 2009

SVAW Morning Tea

As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, a small crowd of supporters gathered in Belmore Park, Sydney on Wednesday 9 December for a morning tea of speeches, Danish pastry and entertainment. The morning tea was held to celebrate the achievements made in reducing violence against women in Australia and to raise public awareness on the work that needs to be done to make violence against women history.

The guest speaker, Cat Gander, from the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement, drew attention to two major problems in the provision of services for women escaping from domestic violence. One, there is a shortage of refuge placements – 1 in 2 women are turned away from refuges in cases of domestic violence. Two, the Family Law Court needs to be reformed to reduce the prohibitive legal costs to victims of domestic violence. Legal costs were as high as one million dollars in one exceptional case, but more commonly costs ran to the tens of thousands of dollars. In one case a women went back to court 25 times.

Amnesty International NSW’ speaker, Lauren Fahy, from the
Stop Violence against Women Network, labelled the current approach to handling violence against women inadequate, because the services for women escaping domestic violence were grossly underfunded and ad hoc in nature. Lauren explained that there was a lack of organisation between government departments involved and called on the government to commit to a more coordinated approach, namely the National Plan of Action to reduce violence against women and children. Thanks to everyone involved – organisers, speakers and supporters alike, not to mention, Shannon King, who entertained the crowd with her solo singing/guitar playing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Face to Face Locations

Face to Face Locations for the Week beginning 7th December 2009

Monday: Springwood, Edgecliff, Rose Bay

Tuesday: Springwood, Hyde Park, Liverpool

Wednesday: Leura, Five Dock, Leichhardt

Thursday: Blackheath, St Leonards, Crows Nest

Friday: Katoomba, Farrer Place, Circular Quay

Saturday: Katoomba

Friday, December 4, 2009

AIA Human Rights Education Kit & DVD

Hey Campaigners:

Last night in Melbourne we launched a new Human Rights Education Kit featuring a DVD, scenarios and case studies on human rights, teaching resources developed by student teachers, useful websites and resources about getting involved in Amnesty International and our work. The objective is to make the difference between offering materials on HR and really inspiring and equipping teachers to use these materials with maximum effect.

The DVD features interviews and footage of students and teachers in the classroom with the following themes:
* Social justice
* Global citizenship
* English
* Legal Studies
* Student Representative Council

It includes a series of interviews with students and with teachers and profiles young people taking action for HR. The kit has been developed for university teacher education programs. We are working on adapting it for broader use across the 2900 secondary schools in Australia.

Below are just a few stills from the DVD - this and copies of the kit will be available in all action centres early in the New Year. (We've run out of copies to go around!!)

Christmas Closure

Hey Guys,

Just letting you know the Action Centre will be closed from the 21st of December - 11th of January.

We would like to wish you the very best for Christmas and New Years.

Thankyou for all the work you have done in 2009 and we are looking forward to more events, actions and campaigning in 2010

NSW Community Campaigns Team

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advertising Action Groups

As a new strategy to help boost membership numbers for the local action groups next year, we were thinking of trying to place regular advertisements in your local papers about your group meetings. These advertisements would probably be monthly, and everything would be organised by the Community Campaigns team here at Amnesty – all the action groups would have to do is be willing to host extra members! We are currently in the process of finding out further information and prices for the advertising, please contact us if this is something that interets your group -


Recent National Extraordinary General Meeting Action

Over the last weekend staff and volunteers from throughout Australia met in Sydney for our National Extraordinary General Meeting. We took this opportunity to stage an event in Victoria Park in line with our Demand Dignity campaign, in particular highlighting the importance of Indigenous Rights. We had around 100 people who signed a giant petition to Kevin Rudd, calling for the endorsement and implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as well as the full and unconditional reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act to end discrimination in the Northern Territory.

Thank you to everyone who was involved!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Anti-Death Penalty Day 2009 - Petition handed over

AIA contributed 10,518 signatures to a global total of 90, 708 signatures collected by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) - that's 12% of the global tally.

Thank you to everyone who signed and encouraged other people to sign the petition.

The petitions were handed over on Friday 20 November - the 20th birthday of the Convention for the Rights of the Child - to the embassies in France of the four countries that still execute juvenile offenders - Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran.

Each embassy received a quarter of the petitions:
Sudan and Yemen met and accepted the WCADP delegation and petitions.
Saudi Arabia would not meet with the delegation but accepted the petitions.
Iran refused to meet or accept the petitions (they will get them in the mail).

AIA collected 10, 518 signatures for a month from 10 Oct (World Day against the Death Penalty). Special thanks to the efforts of the Web Team (online petition and supporter email) and Fundraising Team (Street Fundraising Team with paper petitions) who via their methods collected a combined 96% of the signatures for our section.

You can read the WCADP press release (AI is part of the Coalition):

Still time to take further action

We are still running with the Japan
and death penalty actions - two postcards: one to do with
mental health generally, and one for Hakamada Iwao (one of our IARP cases). There are also standard letters to the new Justice minister in Japan for people to sign.
If you have limited time, there is also an online action for Hakamada Iwao you can take:

Friday, November 27, 2009

16 Days of Activism - National Plan of Action

16 Days of Activism has BEGUN! It is running from the 25th of November to the 10th of December. We have 2 main focuses:

- PNG (please refer to earlier blog)

- National Plan of Action in Australia (NPoA)

Get Involved. Take Action.

Please email for your action kit and template NPoA letter.
For more information visit:

And for upcoming events:


Please take online action and encourage others to do so.
Father Ly is part of our Individuals at Risk Portfolio and someone our section has work for over many years.

Prisoner of conscience seriously ill in Vietnam
Imprisoned pro-democracy activist and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly suffered a suspected stroke and needs medical treatment.

Take action now

Success Story

Hey Campaigners - this is just a nice reminder from Graham Thom, AIA's refugee coordinator, as to why we do what we do:

Hi all,

This time last year I was on the Syria/Iraq border meeting Palestinian refugees who had fled the violence in Iraq. Less than 3000 people were trapped in 3 horrible camps in the middle of the desert. We were able to convince the Australian government to look at this group and I have just heard that 10 families will be arriving in Perth on Thursday next week!! Another 6 families will be arriving soon.

The families are from the Al Hol camp in the north of Syria. Three hundred people, a third of them children (see photo), have been trapped in this camp for nearly 4 years, in often extreme conditions. While resettlement has occurred out of the other two camps, to the USA and Europe, this is the first time serious numbers of people have been taken from the Al Hol camp. When I was there a year ago the families felt they had been abandoned and forgotten so no doubt they will be overjoyed to be on their way to Australia.

This is a great example of what Amnesty International can achieve and the real difference we can make. Well done everyone!

Hope you all have a great weekend,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Irene Khan Book Launch 16th November

On the 16th of November I found myself wandering around the roped off sections of the Art Gallery of NSW in preparation for Irene Khan’s book launch of the Unheard Truth. I was just one of around a dozen volunteers who checked off RSVPs, directed people around the gallery, explained Amnesty International Australia’s campaigns and asked people to take part in actions in line with our Demand Dignity campaign.

The theatre began to fill and there was an electric buzz throughout the gallery as we anticipated Irene’s arrival. We volunteers were a little worried that Irene’s plane would be delayed and we would be forced to entertain the masses with some form of interpretive dancing routine. However, thankfully everything progressed with no hiccups. Nicole Bieske, the National President Amnesty International Australia opened the event and introduced Irene and journalist, Tony Maniety. I really loved how the book launch was organised – Tony and Irene basically had a chat about her book and her recent visit to the centre of Australia.

It was pretty informal and hence a lot easier to listen to and engage with. Professor Stuart Rees, Director of Sydney Peace Foundation (with a possible future future in comedy) also spoke on the book, Irene’s work and her “optimistic” hair do. I’m not sure whether her hairstyle is optimistic but Irene herself undoubtedly is. It is not impossible, it is not out of our grasp; poverty can be overcome!

What really shook me was when Irene said that she witnessed in Australia one of the starkest differences between rich and poor people. On her three hour flight from Brisbane to the centre of Australia, to the ironically named Indigenous community of Utopia, Irene said she felt as if she had travelled from the first world into the third world.

"For a country which, by human development standards, is the third most developed in the world and one which has emerged from the global financial crisis comparatively unscathed, such a level of poverty is inexcusable, unexpected and unacceptable."

Australia is named the lucky country. And it is true, the majority of the people who live here are very lucky. However there is another group; often forgotten, excluded, voiceless and powerless who do not enjoy the same luxuries as we do. In her book, Irene Khan emphasises that more money will not fix the problem of poverty, what is necessary is empowerment of disadvantaged people. “Unless and until we address the human rights abuses that impoverish people and keep them poor, we will fail to eradicate poverty.” This link between poverty and human rights connected with me and with the audience of over 300. Following the event, one third of the people bought Irene’s book which I hope has inspired and empowered them to take action on behalf of disadvantaged people. If you haven’t bought a copy already, it is available for purchase on our online shop for $29.95

To take action on the devastating Unheard Truth in the heart of Australia please visit

"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life." Nelson Mandela

Amanda Atlee

NSW Community Campaigns Intern

Join the Refugee Action Coalition to Welcome Refugees

Welcome Refugees Rally

No "Indonesian solution"
Close Christmas Island - end mandatory detention
Let the boats land here

2pm Sunday 29 Nov
Sydney Town Hall (marching to Belmore Park)

Speakers include Tamil Youth Association, Sarah Hanson Young (Greens Senator), Sally McManus (NSW secretary of Australian Services Union), Afghan refugee Abdul Hekmat, Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition).

Organised by the Refugee Action Coalition

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713, or email

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Face 2 Face Locations

From 24th November 2009

Tuesday: Potts Point; Singleton

Wednesday: Cronulla; Newcastle

Thursday: Parramatta; Musswellbrook

Friday: Circular Quay; Maitland

Saturday: Singleton

Human Rights Act Forum - 25th November 2009

An Australian Human Rights Act:

Essential or Extraneous?

A public forum discussing the benefits and dangers of implementing a Human Rights Act in Australia.

Julian Leeser
Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre and Co-Editor of "Don’t Leave Us with the Bill"

Edward Santow
Director, Charter of Human Rights Project, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law

David McKnight
Associate Professor at the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of New South Wales

Date: Wednesday 25 November 2009
Where: NSW Parliament, Theatrette
Enter via Macquarie Street, Sydney
Entry: Free

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pick up the phone, call for a Human Rights Act

Hey Campaigners :

As you read this, key decision makers are meeting to formulate the Federal Government's response to the Committee’s report. The government is expected to announce a response to the report before the end of the year, and it may or may not include a commitment to a Human Rights Act. This means that right now is the critical time to remind our politicians about the strong calls from across Australia for a Human Rights Act, and to let them know that we expect them to adopt the report's recommendations.

Now is the time to turn the recommendations into action.

Please take a few minutes to call on the Government to give us a Human Rights Act for Australia. One small action will make a significant difference to the protection of human rights in this country now and for generations to come.

Make a quick phone call to tell the Government directly that you want them to give us a Human Rights Act for Australia:

If you have some extra time, please tweet ‘Calling on @KevinRuddPM to #ActOnIt and give us a Human Rights Act for Australia:' or update your Facebook status with a link to the action (


Jenny Leong
Campaign Coordinator

16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Many Voices: One Message:

Stop Violence Against Women in PNG

In our nearest geographical neighbour, Papa New Guinea (PNG), women urgently need the Government to start taking action against domestic and gender violence.

Recent interviews conducted by Amnesty International in PNG revealed that two thirds of women had experienced domestic violence, 1 of every 6 women interviewed needed treatment for injuries caused by their husbands in urban areas, and 60 per cent of men have admitted to being involved in at least one gang rape.

Women are often perceived as a commodity in PNG. Gender inequality and discrimination is supported by customs including polygamy and bride price, strengthening the idea that men own their wives. Most perpetrators, therefore, are never arrested; those who are arrested usually don’t make it to court and those who make it to court are rarely sentenced. At the same time, there aren’t sufficient provisions of services for women who have experience domestic violence, such as safe houses.

Together we can pressure the Government of PNG to take action to combat and prevent violence against women.

As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, we encourage people to join our campaign on Stop Violence against Women in PNG!

Amnesty International is calling on the Government of PNG to formally dedicate financial and other support to protective initiatives to women feeling violence and introducing and enforcing domestic violence legislation and announcing

As part of our campaign materials there is an Activist toolkit full of information about PNG, the problems women are facing and the actions we could to take to ensure that the Government of PNG make a formal commitment to combat violence against women.

Ask for an Activist Toolkit. Take action. And let us know if you need any support!

Friday, November 20, 2009

16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women in PNG

When: Wednesday December 09 2009 1PM – 2PM
Where: NSW Action Centre, Amnesty International Australia, Level 1, 79 Myrtle Street, Chippendale, NSW

On 9 December, as part of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, Amnesty International NSW will be holding a lunchtime talk about violence against women in PNG and the work of Amnesty International and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).

Claire Rowland, IWDA Program Manager, will speak about the current efforts to address violence faced by women in PNG. Amnesty International will outline the Campaign on Stop Violence Against Women in PNG, calling on the Government of PNG to publically commit to financial and other support to organisations providing emergency accommodation and the enforcement of specific domestic violence legislation.

Together we can take action to combat and prevent violence against women in PNG!


Demand Dignity Series : Maternal Mortality

WHEN: Tuesday 8th December 2009 from 12-1:30pm

WHERE: NSW Action Centre. Level 1, 79 Myrtle St Chippendale

As part of Amnesty International's campaign, 'Demand Dignity', Amnesty’s NSW Branch is hosting a series of lunchtime talks on the Millennium Development Goals. This campaign is concerned with human rights and poverty, covering a number of key issues including maternal mortality, slums and corporate accountability. These talks will provide an overview of each of these topics.

For our first event we will have three speakesr: Sue Ndwala,World Vision's Maternal and Child Health Advisor will discuss issues surrounding maternal mortality and her experience in developing countries. Additionally, Professor Jill White and Rebeccah Bartlett will explain their Birthing Kit Initiative. For some background information have a look at their video.

Every minute a woman dies of causes related to pregnancy and child birth. Almost every one of these deaths could have been prevented with access to high quality, affordable and timely medical care.

Come along to learn more about the relationship between poverty, dignity and human rights, the shocking reality of maternal mortality and how you can get involved in preventing it.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Volunteer Party!!

Hey Guys,

It's time for the AINSW End of Year Celebration and Huge Great Big Thank You to all Volunteers Party!!

We would love it if you would join us to catch-up and have some fun.

The Mission Bar is a really gorgeous venue in a ' Melbourne back-lane wine bar ' kind-of-way and we have the whole place for our party including the Art Gallery where Angus Wood's Thought Crimes exhibition will be showing.

We're still sourcing the entertainment but so far we have confirmed performance artist Flutter Lyon who will perform 'In light and splendour' after the sun goes down.
Looking forward to seeing you there

Friday 27th November
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Mission Bar and Art Gallery
Ground Level
3 Little Queen Street (2 blocks from the NSW Action Centre)
Chippendale NSW 2008
Beverages, cocktail food and entertainment provided


Ph 8396 7670

Friday, November 13, 2009

‘Burma VJ’ Screening and End of Year Party

When: Tues 8th December 2009, 7-9pm
Where: NSW Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St. Chippendale
Cost: Donation ($10 Suggested)

The Eastern Suburbs Amnesty International Australia Group is screening ‘Burma VJ’ at the NSW Action Centre for their last meeting of 2009.

‘Burma VJ’ offers a unique insight into high risk journalism and dissidence in a police state, while at the same time providing a thorough documentation of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching.

The Eastern Suburbs Group will have a brief meeting from 6:30-7pm, followed by light refreshments and the film.

You can learn more about the film here

Please RSVP by December 4 to

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Irene Khan Action Centre Visit

Hey campaigners,

Unfortunately Irene Khan won't be making a visit into the Sydney Action Centre on the 17th of November anymore. But hopefully you have all sent off your RSVP for the Book Launch event on the 16th of November.

See you there!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

National Director & National President's Update

There have been many exciting recent events and there is much to look forward to in the next few months.

We’re pleased to say that Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, will be in Australia in mid-November. We’re organising an action packed schedule for Irene – including: meeting with Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, meetings with activists, staff and donors in Melbourne and Sydney, a national press club address and meetings with senior MPs in Canberra.
Irene’s visit will focus on our Demand Dignity Campaign and Indigenous Rights work. While in Australia she’ll also be launching her new book, The Unheard Truth: Human Rights and Poverty. Further information will be made available in the coming weeks and details for events can be found on our website.

International Council Meeting (ICM)
We’re delighted to share with you key outcomes from an exciting and action packed eight days in August at the International Council Meeting (ICM) in Turkey. Seven delegates from Amnesty International Australia joined the ICM to represent the views of our section.
There were many important developments at the ICM, including:
the election of a new International Executive Committee– for further information please go to:;
the approval of the new Integrated Strategic Plan for the movement from 2010 – 2016; and
the ICM agreed on a new approach to strategically align the resources of the movement to impact and need. The approach is called Assessment to Distribution. The global south and east are priorities.

If you have any questions about the ICM, please email Nicole Bieske, National President, at

National Extraordinary General Meeting (NEGM)
The NEGM will take place between 27 and 29 November in Sydney and we’re looking forward to an engaging and dynamic meeting.
The NEGM will include discussions of how we will strengthen our democracy to achieve greater human rights impact. We will debate a number of resolutions from the Board and from Branch Annual General Meetings. We will also look at how we will achieve our vision and achieve our human rights impact goals. For scholarship details on the NEGM, as well as other information including how to register, please go to on the website:
Members will receive further information, including an invitation, in the post in early November.

Human Rights Act
The National Human Rights Consultation Committee has recommended that the Government introduce a Human Rights Act for Australia.
This was thanks to an overwhelming number of Australians who took part in the country's biggest public consultation. Over 80% of the 35,000 individual submissions said they wanted a Human Rights Act that protects the rights of all Australians.

What next? We need the government to implement the Committee's recommendation and adopt a Human Rights Act. Over the coming months we will be calling on the Government to 'Act On It' - to join our call and keep the pressure up be sure to keep an eye on the blogs on the website - - there are currently some great blogs from people talking about the benefits of a human rights act for Australia. (If you are on twitter follow @AmnestyOz to be kept up to date on the latest about this and our other campaign actions).

The Diversity Steering Committee held a successful face-to-face meeting in Canberra over the weekend of 22 and 23 August. During 2009 the Committee has focused on providing advice regarding the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan following the Board's decision in 2008, and has also introduced ‘Diversity Impact Statements’ into the 2010 operational plan process.

The Diversity Steering Committee will be seeking an additional member with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander expertise to provide the balance of skills needed. Interested people should refer to the employment pages of the Amnesty International Australia website for further information which will be posted shortly. Please note that this is a voluntary position.

Strengthening Democracy Project
The Strengthening Democracy project was a key discussion item at the Board meeting held in Sydney on 12 and 13 September.
The Board carefully considered our supporters' feedback from the Strengthening Democracy Project's engagement process – conducted in August and analysed in early September. As a result, a number of resolutions were developed and will be proposed at the National Extraordinary General Meeting by the Board including:
enhanced representation through a new regional representative role; and providing a mechanism for Human Rights Defenders to become members.
The resolutions can be found at:

A number of other issues from the feedback will also be discussed further at the National Extraordinary General Meeting in November. It was very exciting to hear so many people's contributions and so many inspiring ideas around strengthening our democracy!

The Board also considered:
An update on key outcomes from the International Council Meeting;
An update on the Demand Dignity Campaign;
An Amnesty International Australia marketing principles paper and presentation;
A presentation on inspiring 500 000 people to take action by 2014.
If you have any questions about anything in this update, you can contact us at

Thanks and best wishes,

Nicole Bieske

National President

Claire Mallinson

National Director

p.s. our new 2009 – 2010 merchandise catalogue is available now. Tell your friends! You can download a copy here:

Friday, October 30, 2009

16 days of activism against gender violence

Once again 16 Days of Activism is coming up quickly. 16 days of Activism begins on the 25th of November with International Day for the Erradication of Violence against Women and ends 16 days later with Human Rights Day on the 10th of December.

This year we will be encouraging people to campaign on two different campaigns:
-Stop domestic violence in PNG
- National Plan of action to eliminate violence against women

We have just received new materails for PNg such as placards, petitions, an activist toolkit and A5 flyers. Materials for the domestic campaign will be coming soon. Please let us know if you are planning on doing anything during '16 days' and you would like materials.

Cultural Awareness Training - TOMORROW!

Cultural Awareness Training
As part of the Demand Dignity Campaign, Amnesty International Australia will be hosting a one-day workshop on 31st October for all interested convenors, volunteers and activists. This interactive workshop will be presented by Grant Sarra who has spent twenty-six years of his life working exclusively with Indigenous people in Australia. He has developed a detailed knowledge and understanding of the issues that impact upon Indigenous Australians.

The workshop will help participants gain a greater understanding of the history of Indigenous Australians and what it is like to be an Indigenous Australian. It will be a valuable learning experience and we are encouraging everyone to attend.

When: Saturday October 31 2009 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Where: NSW Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle Street, Chippendale

Places are still available!!

Demand Dignity Exhibition

Amnesty International held an art exhibition from 20th October till 25th October, to celebrate the launch of the Demand Dignity campaign. The exhibition was held at TAP gallery in Darlinghurst and the opening night was a great success. Thanks to all those who attended, volunteers, organizers, performers, artists and TAP gallery!

Amnesty National Extraordinary General Meeting (NEGM)

Amnesty International Australia's National Extraordinary General Meeting will be held from Friday 27th to the Sunday 29th of November in Sydney.

The NEGM will include our traditional human rights conference components – such as workshops, plenary sessions with external speakers as well as our own, a public action and governance issues such as the passing of resolutions. Also, on the advice of the Youth Advisory Group in 2008, we are folding the Youth Summit into the NEGM. A key component of the NEGM will be looking at ways Amnesty International Australia can strengthen our democratic structures, processes and culture to better achieve our vision. To do this, the Board initiated the Strengthening Democracy Project which was conducted over the course of 2009.

Details around how to get involved, registration, accommodation, scholarships and the agenda can be found at
When: 28th-29th November
Where: Sydney Action Centre; Level 1, 79 Myrtle St Chippendale
RSVP: online registration

Aung San Suu Kyi - Successful Event

Last Tuesday 27th October, the Amnesty International Community Campaigns team and volunteers attended an event for Aung San Suu Kyi at the Opera House.
Amnesty along with 500 other supporters gathered in a 'stand for solidarity and freedom.'
Therese Rein, Janelle Saffin (MP) Lucy Turnbull and Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International spoke at the event, calling for Australians to use our liberty, to promote Burma's freedom.
SBS World News Australia covered the event:
Amnesty International Staff and Volunteers
A crowd of 500 gathered to show their support
Therese Rein, Lucy Turnbull, Janelle Saffin and Claire Mallinson
supporters included Amnesty International staff and volunteers, school students, and members of Australian Burmese community

Human Rights Workshop - Thanks!

On Friday 23rd October, Amnesty International held a Free Youth Human Rights Workshop, at the Rex Centre.

It was a great day where participants were able to hear from Amnesty staff and volunteers about our Refugee case work, campaigning and media activities, as well as participate in several workshops, where they gained skills in community campaigning, online activism, and working with the media.

We'd like to say thanks to all those who attended - and keep a lookout for more upcoming youth training events!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sri Lankan Refugees Rights Must Be Respected

The recent situation of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka has brought the refugee topic into the spotlight once more. Although boat arrivals make up less than four per cent of people who come to Australia seeking asylum, they never fail to create a political and media outburst.

Around 250 Sri Lankan refugees were making their way to Australia when they were intercepted outside Java and held in Indonesia. They have refused to leave the impounded boat, held a two-day hunger strike, and threatened suicide if they are not resettled.

Immigration Department figures have shown between 85 and 90 per cent of boat people are found to be genuine under the United Nations 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. As a regional power, Australia needs to continue to take a leadership position to ensure that asylum seekers within our region are treated in line with international human rights obligations.

Australia is at risk of facing international shame if our Government were to be complicit in the human rights violations of asylum seekers in our region. We are sending a dangerous message that the rights of refugees come second to domestic political agendas.

Please take action and send a letter or email to Kevin Rudd; our government has an obligation to ensure all asylum seekers have access to assistance from the UNHCR, access to a fair and timely process for determining their status through the UNHCR, and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention – all of which is now at risk while the Sri Lankan asylum seekers are forced to remain in Indonesia. For more information:

Additionally come and support the
Rally to Say No to Rudd’s Indonesian Solution!

12.30pm Monday 2 November
Immigration Department, Lee St (Railway Square end of Central Tunnel), City

Speakers include:
Sylvia Hale (NSW Greens MP)
Tamil Association
Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition)

Called by Refugee Action Coalition
Contact Ian on 0417 275 713

“Refugees are not just numbers, they are people and deserve to be treated with humanity” –Mary Vernon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Irene Khan - Book Launch - Invitation

(click to enlarge)
Irene Khan - Sydney Book Launch - INVITATION

When: Monday 16th November; 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Where: Domain Theatre, Level 3, Art Gallery of NSW


Monday, October 26, 2009

Face 2 Face Locations

Face 2 Face Locations for the Week Starting Monday 26th October

Monday: Summer Hill; Parramatta

Tuesday: Cronulla; Liverpool

Wednesday: Kingsford; Coogee

Thursday: Rose Bay; North Sydney

Friday: Dulwich Hill; Newtown

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stand Up - October 16th

Last Friday some Amnesty International campaigners met in Victoria Park to enjoy the sunshine, a picnic feast and most importantly to Stand Up Against Poverty. This was our contribution to Anti-Poverty Week which ran from the 11-18th October, we hope that you had the chance to attend one of the various events around NSW.

Stand Up is the world’s largest mobilisation. It's a worldwide initiative seeking to end poverty, address its causes and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In 2008, 117 million people worldwide joined together through Stand Up (a Guinness World Record!!), including over 207,000 Australians who participated in Stand Up events around the country.

We didn't have millions or thousands of people with us on Friday but our crowd of 32 were very proud and enthusiastic to be part of this global movement to End Poverty. Together we urged our leaders to act now to achieve and exceed the MDGs and to commit to the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act to stop the discrimination existing in the Northern Territory. We hope we were joined by masses around the globe Standing Up and Speaking Out about injustices in the world.

"We will continue to Stand Up, not just today but everyday to say: No More Excuses, End Poverty and Inequality Now"

Face 2 Face Locations

Face 2 Face Locations for the Week Starting Monday 19th October

Monday: Kotara Westfield; Muswellbrook - near CBA;

Tuesday: Kotara Westfield; Newcastle - Hunter Mall; Shopping Centre

Kotara Westfield; Nelson Bay;

Thursday: Kotara Westfield; Singleton;

Friday: Kotara Westfield; Newcastle - The Junction;

Saturday: Kotara Westfield; Newcastle - The Junction;

Friday, October 16, 2009

Talkback Radio Training Session

We are holding another talkback radio training session via telephone, this time for the refugee network. Activists are invited to call a telephone conference phone number to learn talkback tips and practice advocating Amnesty's messages on asylum seeker issues on air. Session will be with media trainer Richard Fitzgerald and AIA media and public affairs coordinator Caroline Shepherd.

When: Tuesday 27 October
Time: 7pm-8pm AEST/ 6:30pm-7:30pm SA/ 6pm-7pm QLD/ 4pm-5pm WA
RSVP Essential: Contact Caroline by Monday 26 October at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Potluck Picnic in the Park - THIS FRIDAY!!

Potluck Picnic in the Park - Stand Up Against Poverty

As part of Anti-Poverty Week and Stand Up Against Poverty, Amnesty International NSW is hosting a 'Potluck Picnic in the Park'
While we will be providing food, it would be great for everyone to bring a small dish of their own (no glass or alcohol) to contribute to the picnic. After all, sharing is vital to ending poverty. So come along - Stand Up, Take Action and call for an end to poverty!

When: Friday October 16 2009 12- 1:30 PM
Where: Victoria Park, City Road, Camperdown

Over a billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty. Stand Up is a worldwide initiative seeking to achieve the Millennium Development Goals which aim to half global poverty by 2015.

Demand Dignity Art Exhibition 2009

Amnesty International is hosting a Demand Dignity Art Exhibition. The exhibition showcases the work of local artists, with pieces in the exhibition expressing the artists' interpretations of what it means to demand dignity.

Opening night: Tuesday 20 October, from 6pm

Exhibition ends: Sunday 25 October

Venue: TAP Gallery, 278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst

For more information please see the NSW Events page:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Human Rights Act for Australia

National Human Rights Consultation Report

On the 8th of October 2009, the National Human Rights Consultation Committee recommended that the Australian Government introduce a Human Rights Act for Australia. This is in response to lengthy campaigns on the issue and thanks to the record number of Australians who took part in our country’s largest public consultation on human rights. Over 87% of the 35,000 individual submissions and the 6,000 public roundtable participants reported that they wanted to have their human rights enshrined in national legislation.

The Committee has recommended that the Government publish a federal Human Rights Act with a comprehensible list of Australian rights and responsibilities based on our obligations from the seven international human rights treaties we have signed. These include civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights. Amnesty remains concerned, however, that the Report draws a distinction between the treatment of economic, cultural and social rights and the treatment of civil and political rights. We believe that all human rights are indivisible, interdependent and should be treated equally.

Commendable recommendations were made in regards to education, where the Committee recognised the importance of education in improving and promoting Human Rights in Australia. Also the Committee recommended strengthening the specific protection of Aboriginal and Torres Islanders rights and recognised their right to have meaningful control over their affairs.

Continued campaigning will be necessary to ensure that the Australian government heeds the proposals of the Committee and implements a comprehensive Human Rights Act that protects all Australians and truly reflects our international obligations.

If you wanted to have a look at the 500 page report (or at least the summary and recommendations) here is where you will find it:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Irene Kahn - The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights

Irene Khan - Book Launch - November

Irene Khan is the first woman and first Asian Secretary General of Amnesty International. She has recieved several prestigious awards for her leadership in human rights and her to work to end violence against women, including the Sydney Peace Prize 2006.

On 16th November she is heading to Sydney to launch her book The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights

Keep checking the blog for more information about this exciting upcoming event.

NSW Action Group Catch-Up - TOMORROW

Hey Everyone,

Just I reminder that the NSW Action Group Catch-Up is tomorrow, it's not too late to RSVP!

When: Wednesday October 07 2009 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: NSW Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale, NSW

The Catch-Up is an opportunity to:
* Meet and engage with other NSW groups, convenors and members of the AI Community Campaigns team
* Receive an update from us about new campaigns and resources; as well as news about what is happening here at AI Action Centre and within the Community Campaigns team and,
* Provide us with valuable feedback about your experiences and concerns.

Dinner will be provided

**** For those who cannot come to Sydney to attend the Catch-Up, you're able to 'ring in' and join us via conference phone ****
Call 1800 333 803 (toll free) OR 9696 0695
PIN: 3502
at 6pm!

Face 2 Face Locations

Face 2 Face Locations for the week starting Monday 4th October







Thursday, October 1, 2009


This year, an Amnesty International Australia (AIA) National Extraordinary General Meeting (NEGM) will be held from the 27th to the 29th of November in Sydney. The Board has decided to offer up to eight scholarships to attend the meeting.

1. Amnesty International Members Scholarships

*Up to six scholarships are available to fund AIA members to attend NEGM (this year including the Youth Summit) as observers and to participate in all the workshops and plenary sessions.

*The scholarships will cover the cost of return flights to Sydney, two nights accommodation at the NEGM venue (or three nights if required for travel purposes) and all food during the NEGM.

*The NEGM Scholarships are intended to provide a means for AIA members who are not able to attend Branch AGM’s or who are otherwise unable to participate in the election of NEGM delegates and observers to attend NEGM. It will also enhance the diversity of activist experience present at NEGM and assist in ensuring that the training and development provided at NEGM reaches a greater audience.

*It is expected that the successful applicants will be selected from diverse regions. Activists from regional/ rural areas are particularly encouraged to apply.

Selection Criteria

· Member of AIA, available and committed to attending all of the NEGM (Friday 27 November to Sunday 29 November in Sydney);
· Presently an active participant in a branch/ region/ group or network, or in some other capacity;
· Commitment to remaining involved in AIA;
· Desire to improve activist skills;
· Willingness and ability to take back what is learnt to your region and to share it with other activists;
· Interest in learning more about the campaigns and AIA, including the governance aspects;
· Willingness to contribute to AIA’s organisation and development; and
· Keen to gain a better understanding of how AIA contributes to and participates in the global movement.

2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Scholarships

*Two scholarships are available to fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (aged between 18 to 30) to attend the NEGM (this year including the Youth Summit) as observers and to participate in all the workshops and plenary sessions.

*The scholarships will cover the cost of return flights to Sydney, two nights accommodation (or three nights if required for travel purposes) and all food during the NEGM.

*These Scholarships are intended to provide a means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths to participate in the meetings and to share their experiences with AIA members. We also hope that the scholarship recipients will be able to enhance their skills and to share what they learn with their communities.

*It is expected that the successful applicants will be selected from diverse regions. People from regional/ rural areas are particularly encouraged to apply.

Selection Criteria

· Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
· Interested in basic human rights;
· Able to work with others to achieve change;
· Must be willing to share your knowledge and experience with others;
· Ability to be a good Ambassador for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people;
· Commitment to take knowledge back and share with your community;
· Interested in gaining a better understanding of AIA;
· Available and committed to attending all of the NEGM (Friday 27 November to Sunday 29 November in Sydney).
· Must be aged between 18 to 30 years of age.

3. Process

· Written applications to be submitted to the Selection Committee via email ( by 30 October 2009 (two pages maximum).
· Applications will only be considered if they address the selection criteria.
· Two referees are required. For the AIA members’ scholarships, one referee must be someone who is involved in AIA.

4. More information

If you have any questions, please contact your Branch President or Jim Sharp (Board Vice President) at

FaCe to FaCe locations 26th September

Week commencing: 21st September 2009







Sunday: - - -

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Richard Downs - inspiring grass-roots struggles for Aboriginal rights

Richard Downs will be speaking at Amnesty International Australia (Sydney office). Richard is a spokesperson for the Alyawarr people, who have walked off their community at Ampilatwatja against the NT Intervention and established a protest camp outside the boundaries of the "Prescribed Area".

Don't miss your chance to hear this strong speaker discuss life under the Intervention and inspiring grass-roots struggles for Aboriginal rights.

When: Tuesday October 6th
Time: 2:15pm
Where: NSW Activist Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale, NSW
RSVP: Just come along!

Face to Face team location for the w.e 4th Oct.

  • Monday 28th Sept.

Sally Cray
Carina Blaser
Naorri Batiste
Mattew Graveson

Rob Greatholder
Katie Budden
Constance Baur

Alex Manthorpe
Mareike Hoff
Alexander Van Nieulanbe
Ruth Fenwick

Bondi beach/Bondi beach/OTS:
Sonia Habenicht
Amy Peters
Emily Cavill

  • Tuesday 29th sept.

Sally Cray
Carina Blaser
Naorri Batiste
Mattew Graveson

Rob Greatholder
Katie Budden
Constance Baur


Alex Manthorpe
Mareike Hoff
Alexander Van Nieulanbe
Ruth Fenwick


*note* CCNSW and HFA teams should not work on Missenden Road near the hospital as this is innapropriate

Sonia Habenicht
Amy Peters
Emily Cavill

  • Wednesday 30th Sept.

Newcastle/Posit 1-Darby Pde/OTS:
Sally Cray
Carina Blaser
Naorri Batiste
Mattew Graveson

Rob Greatholder
Katie Budden
Constance Baur

Alex Manthorpe
Mareike Hoff
Alexander Van Nieulanbe
Ruth Fenwick


*Note*Don't move to St Vincent
Sonia Habenicht
Amy Peters
Emily Cavill

  • Thursday 01st Oct.

Newcastle/Posit 1-Darby PdeNewcastle/OTS:
Sally Cray
Carina Blaser
Naorri Batiste
Mattew Graveson

Rob Greatholder
Katie Budden
Constance Baur

Alex Manthorpe
Mareike Hoff
Alexander Van Nieulanbe
Ruth Fenwick

North Sydney/North Sydney/OTS:

*note* Locations: Mount st Mall/Miller st/Walker st
Sonia Habenicht
Amy Peters
Emily Cavill

  • Friday 02nd Oct.

Hamilton/Beaumont street OTS:
Sally Cray
Carina Blaser
Naorri Batiste
Mattew Graveson

Rob Greatholder
Katie Budden
Constance Baur

Alex Manthorpe
Mareike Hoff
Alexander Van Nieulanbe
Ruth Fenwick

Sonia Habenicht
Amy Peters
Emily Cavill

  • Sturday 03d Oct.

Hamilton/Beaumoint street/OTS:
Sally Cray
Carina Blaser
Naorri Batiste
Mattew Graveson

Rob Greatholder
Katie Budden
Constance Baur

Human Rights Youth Workshop - Almost Full

Amnesty International's free Youth Human Rights Workshop is ALMOST FULL

We have 5more places to offer you in case you would like to come along for this great opportunity. Do not hesitate to contact us

Anyway, for those who are still interested in attending can contact us at, to be placed on the waiting list and we will keep your contact details for you to be the first to know when will the next one be.

Indeed, we are planning on holding another Human Rights Workshop, a 2010 Student Conference, as well as many other events in the future, so please keep checking the website and this blog for more information about upcoming events.

Thanks for your interest and for the great response we've had!

For those who have RSVP'd - just a reminder of the details:

The workshop will be held at:
The Rex Centre, Kings Cross
58A Macleay Street - entrance near Baroda Street,
Kings Cross (Opposite Kings Cross station)

Rex Centre - Entrance