Thursday, April 8, 2010

Update from National President & National Director

Hi Everyone

Welcome to the first National President & National Director update for 2010. We hope the year has started well for you, and that you are feeling inspired in your human rights work.
The first Board meeting was held at the end of February. We reflected on the successes and challenges of 2009 and were pleased to note the progress made through our human rights campaigning work. We also noted some of the challenges faced and lessons learnt for future work.

One highlight of the work in 2009 was the creation of a plain English, illustrated booklet version of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, featuring commentary from some of Australia’s Indigenous leaders, The booklet was launched in Sydney on 26 January 2010 at the Yabun Festival, a day-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Tom Calma, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, assisted with the launch.

A few highlights of the successes are featured on our website and can be viewed at:

As a Board, we are always looking at how we can inspire, engage and empower our activists and supporters, and ways to ensure we are including a diversity of voices. At the board meeting, we had a discussion on strategic activism within the organisation. We will continue to ensure that, as a Board, we are focusing on activism and working towards our vision of 500,000 people taking action for human rights.

The Board very much appreciates the dedication and hard work of Amnesty International Australia’s supporters and activists during 2009. We achieved some great results, and really showed that together we can make a difference.

At the February Board meeting, the Board also discussed the Objects of our Constitution. Amnesty International Australia's Objects were last amended almost a decade ago. Following decisions made by the international movement and the Australian section, the current Objects are now out of date, so the Board will be proposing new Objects for approval at the next National Annual General Meeting in July 2010. The amended Objects will provide a more accurate description of our current activities. The Branch Presidents will be collecting feedback on the draft Objects at the next Branch Committee meeting, so please contact your local region for further information if you would like to be involved in this process.

2009 was also a big year for the international movement, with some significant changes taking place. The new Secretary General, Salil Shetty, will take up his duties in June 2010 and we look forward to welcoming him to the organisation. He has been the Director of the UN's Millennium Campaign for the past six years and, prior to this, Chief Executive of international anti-poverty NGO ActionAid. He brings that great experience to his new role at Amnesty International.
Following the International Council Meeting in August 2009, the Board of the Australian section agreed to the request for a voluntary additional contribution to the international movement of AUD $380,000. Our expectation is that these funds will be used for growth in the Global South and we will continue to monitor the allocation of the additional contributions. The Chair of the International Executive Committee (IEC), Peter Pack, has warmly thanked the Australian section and noted the need for the IEC to improve reporting on these areas. The Board is very pleased to advise that we will continue to work with the international movement to strengthen sections in the Asia Pacific region, and look forward to being able to update you on progress made.

The IEC has established a number of sub-committees. These include a strategy committee, a governance taskforce, and a diversity and gender mainstreaming taskforce. Amnesty International Australia will play an active role in contributing to the work of these committees and, in particular, to the work of the Global Governance Taskforce as Nicole Bieske has been appointed as a member. This Taskforce will focus on reviewing international governance within Amnesty International. The objective of the taskforce is to propose to the International Executive Committee a governance system for the movement that will enable the movement to:
· develop clear global strategies and global operational goals
· align strategic priorities, competencies and resources
· strengthen global monitoring
· build global governance on a foundation of dynamic and effective democracy.
It is a great opportunity for the Australian section to have international representation on a committee of this nature, and Nicole will be able to provide regular updates on the committees work and the outcomes.

To start the preparations for the next International Council Meeting (ICM), the Board needs to establish the International Nominations Committee. This committee is established every two years to assess applications for the Amnesty International Australia delegation to the ICM. The Board is currently seeking expressions of interest from members of Amnesty International Australia to serve on this committee until the conclusion of the ICM in 2011. For criteria and application details please see information on the website at:
Expressions of interest should be submitted by 5pm on Friday 26 March 2010 to Karla -

There are many opportunities to get involved in Amnesty International’s work. Branch Annual General Meetings are fast approaching and all are encouraged to attend and to nominate for the position of Branch President, Regional Representative, general member of the Branch Committee, or National Annual General Meeting delegate. This will be the first year that we will be electing Regional Representatives at the Branch Annual General Meetings as a result of the Constitutional changes from the National Extraordinary General Meeting last year. These Regional Representatives will be members of the Board and members of their regional Branch Committee while the Branch Presidents will be the Chair of the Branch Committee and the Chair of the Branch Annual General Meeting. If you have any questions, please contact your Branch President.

The next newsletter will include updates on our campaigns, and further information can be found on the website or from your Community Campaigner or Branch President.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact us at

Thanks and best wishes,

Nicole Bieske (National President), Claire Mallinson (National Director)

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