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: