Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Comping up on Sunday the 19th of September we are hosting a Bike Ride around the Grand Drive in Sydney's Centennial Park.
Join us for a relaxed ride, followed by a barbeque and talk on how to incorporate a human rights focus into the Millenium Development Goal.
Wear a yellow Amnesty Spoke card to show your support!!
For more information, email nswccintern@amnesty.org.au

Monday, August 30, 2010

Crisis Response Update

Welcome to the latest crisis response update. The purpose of these updates is to keep staff, volunteers, interns and key activists in the loop about potential or actual human rights crisis situations that are on our radar. Please note that this update and some of the information contained in it is not public and therefore should not be sent around to general email lists. If you have any questions about the information below and how it can be shared, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would also welcome suggestions and feedback on the format of this update so that we can continue to develop it to meet your needs. Thanks, Jenny.

The two-minute summary

Preparations for ramping up the campaigning around the elections in Burma continue with some exciting 'first to market' initiatives to be rolled out over the coming months. A more detailed update on what the Burma campaign will look like over the coming months will be sent next week.

We are closely monitoring the Death Penalty cases for Scott Rush, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the three members of the ‘Bali 9’ facing the death penalty in Indonesia. If you are considering doing any work around this, or you have any questions or enquiries please contact me directly (mobile: 0434 359 138). As always, all media enquiries should be directed to the media team (Roxanne: 0423 280 658).

We are also tracking developments in the Solomon Islands elections held almost three weeks ago. After a period of uncertainty over election results and fears of bribery allegations which may potentially destabilise the nation, a new PM was announced on 25 August 2010. Apolosi Bose, our Pacific Researcher is on the ground in the Solomon Islands.

The more detailed summary

BURMA The headline and key message of the campaign will revolve around the Three Freedoms of Expression, Association and Assembly.

Recent Developments:
1. Amnesty International has called for a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. Members of the international community who have shown support for a Commission of Inquiry include Australia, UK, Czech Republic and most recently the USA. There is also increasing pressure on the EU to support a Commission of Inquiry.
2. In July 2010 India promised Burma millions of dollars in assistance and has signed several pacts including a pact to reduce arms smuggling, a sign of growing ties with the Burmese military government. The Government of India as a regional leader should use its influence to improve the human rights situation in Burma in advance of the upcoming elections. For further information please refer to http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23239/

The current global, multilingual action site - which allows you to send an email to 9 foreign ministers in their preferred language with the click of a button is now online at http://3freedoms.amnesty.org/

A podcast of crisis briefing event held on 16 June 2010 detailing the latest situation inside Burma by AI’s Burma expert Benjamin Zawacki and Burma Campaign Australia spokesperson Dr Myint Cho is now available here: http://www.amnesty.org.au/crisis/comments/22854/

Recent Amnesty International Reports and Public Statements:
1. ‘Myanmar elections will test ASEAN’s credibility’ – 16 July 2010
2. ‘Myanmar: Submission to the Universal Periodic Review: Tenth session of the UPR working group of the Human Rights Council January 2011’ – 5 July 2010

We have been monitoring the lead up to and the outcome of the Solomon Islands elections in August 2010. This year’s election has seen a record 508 candidates vying for seats in the nations 50 seat parliament with reports of unqualified individuals and criminals having been allowed to participate. Furthermore post election riots such as those in 2006 has seen a visible increase in police presence and a higher level of security during the elections. In 2006 an Australian-led peacekeeping force i.e. the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) were deployed to contain the violence. RAMSI have also been working closely with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) during the 2010 elections. However there were growing fears that the lack of a clear outcome three weeks after the elections would destabilise the nation.

The situation
Three weeks after the general elections there still hadn’t been a clear winner. However on Wednesday 25th of August Danny Phillip has emerged as the new Prime Minister beating his only rival Steve Abana by three votes. Mr Phillip has indicated that his government’s priority will be constitutional reform. There are also fears that allegations of election bribery and corruption may destabilise the country. Apolosi Bose, our Pacific Researcher, is on the ground and may potentially provide a blog on the situation for crisis pages.

Recent Amnesty International Reports and Public Statements:
1. AIA – ‘Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission a historic opportunity’ - 8 March 2010 - http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/22663/
2. AIA – ‘The dark side of the Solomon Islands’ - 18 August 2010 - http://www.amnesty.org.au/svaw/comments/22722/

Locations for street teams for the week commencing on the 30th of August 2010

Monday 30th of August 2010: Summer Hill, Sutherland, Queanbeyan-Riverside SC

Tuesday 31st of August 2010: Paddington/DTD, Merrylands/OTS, Queanbeyan-Riverside SC

Wednesday 1st of September 2010: Newtown/OTS , Liverpool/OTS, Queanbeyan-Riverside SC

Thursday 2nd of September 2010: Taylor Square/Oxford Street, CBD -Martin Place/Martin Place/OTS, Queanbeyan-Riverside SC

Friday 3rd of September 2010: Leichhardt/Leichhardt/OTS, Glebe/Glebe/OTS, Queanbeyan-Riverside SC

Saturday 4th of September 2010: Queanbeyan-Riverside SC

Thursday, August 26, 2010

UN DPI/NGO workshop this weekend

This year, Melbourne is hosting the 63rd Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference, titled 'Advance Global Health – Achieve the MDGs'. The conference will be held from Monday, 30 August , to Wednesday, 1 September , 2010 and will take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre . The Conference is being organized in partnership between the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), the NGO/DPI Executive Committee and the Government of Australia. This is the third time the conference has been held outside New York in 60 years. Over 1000 people are expected to attend from around the world.

Amnesty International is presenting a workshop at the conference titled 'Fulfilling rights = better health = achieving MDGs'. Speakers are: Sarah Marland, Dr Karmanandu Saraswati from the Urapuntja Health Clinic in Utopia and Albert Bailey Kemarr, Senior Alyawarr Elder. The workshop description is below:

'Longitudinal studies on the health outcomes of Aboriginal peoples living on their traditional homelands demonstrate the correlation between the fulfilment of rights to culture and self-determination and significantly better health outcomes. Community control over life circumstances, practice of traditional forms of governance, community control of health services and access to traditional lands for cultural and economic activities are fundamental determinants of good health. These outcomes provide a model for achieving health MDGs for Indigenous peoples around the world, who are often overlooked in national health plans.'

Claire Mallinson, Monica Morgan, Andrew Beswick, Hannah Harborow and Roxanne Macara are also attending from Amnesty International.

More information about the conference can be found at http://www.un.org.au/DPI_NGO_Conference.aspx


Volunteers Needed for Crisis Response: Burma

The 18th of September marks the two year anniversary of the Saffron Revolution in Burma and the Burmese military junta has announced that an election will be held on the 7th of November. We're keeping a close watch on the situation, and are prioritising this crisis response campaign over the next couple of months.

Throughout September - October 2010 we will be running a number of street events as part of our Burma campaign. We'll be using new multimedia campaigning techniques to engage with the public and to stand with the people of Burma.
You will work with other volunteers, and staff from Amnesty at stalls in Parramatta, the CBD and the Blue Mountains. Exact locations and dates are to be determined, however they will take place throughout September and October. You will be required to attend one training session.

Please contact nswccintern@amnesty.org.au if you're interested or would like more details.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Letters to Independent Members of Parliament

We are asking all action groups and all members of Amnesty International to postpone sending any correspondance to the newly elected independent MPs who hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

Our national director, Claire Mallinson, is currently drafting letters which will be sent to each of them as soon as possible. It is really important that we do not send duplicate letters, so please do not write to any independent MP directly.

We are happy to share the content of these letters if you are interested.

Journey to Freedom photo exhibition

Refugee Campaign Update

The issue of asylum seekers was central to this years federal election. The campaigns of both parties used the plight of refugees and asylum seekers as a political tool to spark a debate characterised by misinformation, fear and confusion.
Asylum seekers who arrive by boat were front and centre in the media and in the speeches of those in the race to become Australia's next PM.

At Amnesty, we do not want the next election to unfold the same way, and we have embarked on a new campaign to change public attitudes towards asylum seekers. We hope that by doing this we can change policy.

Australians need to THINK AGAIN about asylum seekers. Changing public attitudes on this issue is an ambitious project - it will take several years to achieve our goal. However, the first stage of the campaign is underway with community events and engagements occurring all over the country.

100 days
The next stage of our campaign call on our newly elected politicians to;
  1. Stop the suspension on processing Afghan asylum claims
  2. Stop considering sending asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia off to other countries for processing
  3. Continue to allow NGOs, Ombudsman and the Human Rights Commission access to remote detention centres including Christmas Island, Curtin, Darwin and Leonora. Also facilitate community leaders to visit these facilities.
  4. Delink the asylum and resettlement programs
  5. Increase Australia's offshore humanitarian program to 20,000 over the next five years.

How will we do this?

  • Direct advocacy - writing to the PM and MPs to request meetings.
  • Petition - present our 20,000 signature strong petition on the rights of Asylum seekers on the first day that parliament sits. Najeeba, who arrived in Australia as an Afhgani asylum seekers, will present the petition.
  • Detention tour - Amnesty staff will tour detention centres throughout Australia to assess conditions and share the stories of those living in limbo.
  • Marketing Campaign - In conjunction with a marketing agency we will develop a public advertising campaign, asking non traditional audiences to think again.
  • Conversations - the most important part of this campaign is getting Australians to have conversations about asylum seekers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Update from our National President and National Director

In recent months there has been plenty of activity and human rights impact across the organisation. Here is an update on some key activities – including information about our priority campaigns, Annual Report launch, BAGMs, the recent Board meeting and our National Annual General Meeting.

Demand Dignity
Indigenous Rights Coordinator, Rodney Dillon and Board member, Sheena Graham joined Indigenous Rights advocates from around the world at the annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York in April. AI Australia submitted a paper to the Forum, documenting our concerns about the NT Emergency Response. We hosted a successful side event to discuss health and housing issues. We also publicly called for action on flawed investigations into Aboriginal deaths in custody in relation to Mr. Ward and Mr Doomadgee: http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23331/
Our outreach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples continued following successful Sydney Yabun Festival earlier in the year. AI staff and activists have since attended Indigenous events in many locations around Australia - presenting the Declaration as a powerful tool for change and reinforcing the organisation’s ongoing commitment to advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For example, we presented at the "Barunga Festival" held on 12 and 13 June in the NT and "The Dreaming Festival" held on 12 and 14 June in South Qld. On July 6th to 8th we attended the "Defending Indigenous Peoples Rights Gathering" in Alice Springs" where Denise Skiffington and Sherise Rough from the SA/NT Action Centre and Monica Morgan spoke to a large contingent of NT Rights Holders and supporters. Our presence was well received and welcomed.

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Campaign
We are very concerned about the tenor of public debate on refugee and asylum seeker issues. Before the federal election was called, in line with our impartiality and independence we placed 11 advertisements in regional and metropolitan newspapers calling on politicians to adopt a human approach towards refugees and asylum seekers.
Linking in with World Refugee Week events, we launched our research report on the plight of refugees and asylum-seekers who have reached Malaysia, where they are refused legal recognition, protection, or the right to work. Our Refugee Coordinator, Dr Graham Thom, travelled to Malaysia as part of an IS research mission and contributed heavily to the development of the report. The report generated significant media pick up across a range of media, including: ABC's AM program, The Australian, and ABC2 News Breakfast. For further information about the report please visit: http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23220/
Thanks to outstanding work by Jessica Baird and Graham Thom, Channel 7's "Sunrise" program featured a long package comprising a prerecorded report on the life of Afghan refugee Chaman Shah Nasiri followed by a live in-studio interview with Graham Thom in which Graham outlined very clearly our key messages on the boat arrivals/asylum seekers issue. To view the clip please visit: http://d.yimg.com/nl/australia/au-tv/player.swf?vid=21143975

Burma (Myanmar) Campaign
Later this year, Burma will be holding local and national elections -- the first elections held since 1990 when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and a coalition of ethnic minority parties resoundingly won national elections but were not allowed to take power.
AI Australia has prioritised our work on Burma in the lead-up to the elections, which are expected to take place in October 2010. To maximise impact, in May AIA coordinated and funded a meeting of Asia Pacific Sections. The purpose of the meeting was to develop an integrated plan designed to apply regional pressure on the oppressive regime in Burma. Our campaign will focus on three freedoms in Burma: freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. You’ll hear more from AI Australia on this campaign in the coming weeks. To help build our campaign we’ve launched the first stage of our Burma/Three Freedoms multilingual action site: http://3freedoms.amnesty.org/
In a first for Amnesty International the site sends letters in 11 languages simultaneously to 9 foreign ministers (in their own language). The site has already generated over 4000 individual emails to ASEAN foreign ministers. It is also being promoted across the Asia Pacific region - with other sections and structures promoting it on their sites and through their social media networks.
There are exciting plans in place for a second stage development of the site which will allow for more interactive features. Promotion of phase two to our entire supporter base will take place in the coming weeks.
In June, AI Australia hosted a visit by Burma / Thailand Researcher Benjamin Zawacki, who spoke to media, federal politicians, activists and staff about the human rights situation in Burma.

Crisis Response Team
In addition to the work on Burma, in recent months our Crisis Response Team rapidly responded to developments in relation to the Gaza aid flotilla crisis - http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23205/ and the crisis situation in Kyrgyzstan - http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23204/. We continue to closely monitor crisis situations wherever they occur.
Podcasts of recent Crisis Briefing events on Burma and Gaza can be found here: http://www.amnesty.org.au/crisis/comments/22854/

Amnesty International Report 2010: State of the World’s Human Rights
On 28 May, we launched the Amnesty International Report: 2010 – The State of the World’s Human Rights. Our launch reached an estimated audience of 2 million people via all forms of media. Highlights included interviews with Claire Mallinson on SKY News, SBS World News Australia and ABC2 News Breakfast. Thank you to the Media Team and our spokespeople - Claire and Andrew Beswick.
To coincide with the launch of the AI Report 2010, the Fundraising team held major donor events in Sydney and Melbourne. Fifty-three donors and influencers were briefed on the Report and our refugee and asylum seeker campaign.

Human Rights Act Campaign
The Australian Government is displaying a profound lack of courage and is completely ignoring the findings of its own extensive public consultation process by failing to implement a Human Rights Act.
Regrettably, in late April the Government has ruled out a Human Rights Act for Australia and won’t review the position until 2014. As you may know, the Government released ‘Australia’s Human Rights Framework’ which includes increased funding for human rights education, a Parliamentary Committee to compare proposed legislation with the seven core UN human rights treaties to which Australia is a party and other measures.
Amnesty International Australia publicly expressed our concern and disappointment about the actions taken by the government, and those not taken, on this important issue: http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/22903/
We’ve scaled back our Human Rights Act campaign and will continue to monitor the human rights protections at federal and state levels. We’ll continue to lever key opportunities to campaign for human rights protections here in Australia.

SVAW Campaign
Our global Stop Violence Against Women (SVAW) campaign formally ended on 1 April after six years. However, women’s rights remain a priority. Here in Australia we will continue to work on our existing campaigns well into this year including violence against women in Papua New Guinea, and the work on women’s rights and gender discrimination will be ongoing around the world. Our SVAW network has developed into a major asset both internationally and in Australia. The wealth of expertise on women’s rights that exists within our staff and supporters will continue to be used and enhanced.
The SVAW unit at the International Secretariat will be reborn as the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Unit. In addition, a task force has been set up to ensure that all future campaigns include women’s human rights issues, including: reproductive crimes such as abortion or adultery, where women are more likely to be prosecuted than men. The unit will also continue current and planned projects related to violence against women, including: impunity for rape in Cambodia, sexual slavery in conflict – focused on Japan, and maternal mortality and sexual and reproductive rights in Indonesia.
In Australia, we will continue to work on women’s rights within all of our campaigns, with the major focus internationally and in Australia for work on women’s rights happening through the Demand Dignity campaign.
Thanks to years of dedicated work and tireless enthusiasm from hundreds of Stop Violence Against Women activists around the country, we have achieved some really significant outcomes here in Australia. Together with our many partners in the women’s movement we have indirectly contributed to some groundbreaking changes around the world. For more information please see the latest (June / July / August) edition of Human Rights Defender Magazine.

Branch Annual General Meetings (BAGMs)
In mid-May we held successful BAGMs in each of the regions. Thank you to everyone who participated. BAGMs featured campaign updates and activist-led activities and as well as elections for Branch Committees and NAGM delegates. This year for the first time, as a result of our strengthening democracy project, each BAGM held elections for the positions of Regional Representative and Branch President.
We’re delighted to report that our Branch Presidents are: Gabe Kavanagh (NSW), David Forde (QLD), Clare Wiseman (TAS), Tony Bergen (VIC), Nathan Boyle (ACT/NNSW), Gregg Stitt (WA) and Denise Skiffington (SA/NT).
We’d like to welcome the following Regional Representatives to the Amnesty International Australia Board:
Caroline Jakeman (Tasmania), Giles Gunesekera (NSW), Kathy Richards (ACT/NNSW), Wayne Sanderson (QLD), Denise Skiffington (SA/NT), Russell Solomon (VIC), Greg Stitt (WA).
For full details of our Board members please visit: http://www.amnesty.org.au/about/comments/21689/
On behalf of the Board we’d like to express our thanks and gratitude to Maree Klemm, Toni Matulick and Clare Wiseman for their tireless efforts as Branch Presidents of Queensland, ACT/NNSW and Tasmania respectively.

May Board Meeting
Some highlights:
A presentation by Russell Thirgood, member of the International Mobilisation Trust Grant Committee, who joined the meeting via video-conference, on the work of the International Mobilisation Trust and how funding applications are considered. Russell noted the importance of assisting the smaller sections, and the work of AIA in the Asia Pacific region.
The launch of Amnesty International Report 2010: State of the World’s Human Rights.
An update from the Director of Communications and Director of Campaigns on AI Australia’s "non-political" federal election positioning. It was agreed that, in line with our independence and impartiality, AI Australia would promote a non-political message about key human rights issues to all politicians. A guide to campaigning in the lead up to the election and our impartial, non-political calls on all parties can be found here: http://www.amnesty.org.au/features/comments/23371
The National Director presented a paper on AI’s plans for global integration, including long term plans for developing Centers of Excellence. During the next international Integrated Strategic Plan centers of excellence will be formed around the movement and function as hubs of expertise to help coordinate the work of Amnesty International. Examples of functional areas that might become Centers of Excellence include: campaigning, media, online, and fundraising. The Board discussed the role that AI Australia’s might play in a global integrated movement and identified areas where we might seek to become Centers of Excellence in the future.
The Director of Campaigns spoke to presentation on the Demand Dignity campaign. It was noted that the outreach program will be moving around Australia and building activist skills in the area of Declaration of Indigenous Rights.
Sheena Graham joined the meeting via Skype and spoke about her attendance at a recent meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Director of Fundraising and Marketing presented a comprehensive paper on the role of membership in the Australian Section. This was in response to the resolution at the 2009 NEGM which asked the Board to look at mechanisms for encouraging Human Rights Defenders to become members. An update on the inspiring 500,000 people to take action project was also presented, and it was noted that the fieldworker roll-out is due to commence in the later this year (subject to successful recruitment).
The 2011 International Council Meeting agenda and AIA resolutions were discussed.
A paper from the International Secretarial on the Global Governance Taskforce was discussed.

National Annual General Meeting (NAGM)
This year, the Tasmanian Branch hosted 100 delegates, observers, members of the Board and branches at NAGM 2010. It was a highly rewarding weekend of governance, human rights and activism as well as an opportunity for people to get together and network.
We were inspired by Chaman Shah Nasiri who, as mentioned above, is a refugee from Afghanistan who now calls Australia home. He spoke of his experiences fleeing Afghanistan, being detained on Nauru, finally being granted asylum and moving to Australia. Immediately after, we took to the streets of Hobart to get people to sign our petition calling on the government to treat asylum seekers with compassion and according to law. In the evening of Day Two, five young refugees from around the globe also shared their stories in a performance called Living in Between. We were all moved by their courage, their talent and their faith in humanity. You can view a slide show of NAGM images, including photographs of Chaman by visiting: http://www.amnesty.org.au/about/comments/23254/
Dr Sarah Pritchard, renowned human rights lawyer, spoke about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and what it means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. Sheena Graham, former Board member, reported on her recent trip to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. A panel discussion featuring Robin Banks, Rodney Croome and Paula Abood on successful grassroots activism was highly engaging and furthered the theme of NAGM.
There were also a number of exciting workshops held over the weekend. For details please see the full NAGM agenda here: http://www.amnesty.org.au/about/comments/23254/
At the meeting, we elected 7 members of our Board. Congratulations to: President, Nicole Bieske; Vice President, Anthony Mitchell; National Secretary, Michael Butler; and National Treasurer, Dawna Wright. Georgina Perry, Ulli Corbett and Kate Cooper were elected as ‘ordinary’ Board members. Thank you to all candidates who ran for Board positions in the NAGM election. This year we also confirmed our delegates for the next International Council Meeting in 2011.
We would like to thank outgoing members of our Board who have made outstanding contributions to our organisation and to human rights: Jim Sharp and Sheena Graham. Congratulations also to June Fassina award winner, Ray Shepherd, for his outstanding contribution to human rights activism and to Amnesty International.
Of course, NAGM would not have been possible without the hard work of the Tasmanian Branch, led by President Clare Wiseman, and Prep Com, headed up by Jim Sharp. Thank you to all attendees, volunteers and staff for an inspiring weekend!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Australian Government must act to end violence against women.

In Australia, at least 40% of women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Amnesty International is currently urging the federal government to act to end violence against women within Australia. The release of the proposed National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children is a step in the right direction. However, without implementation throughout all states and territories the plan will do little to reduce these shocking numbers.

Amnesty is calling upon the federal government to develop a plan which addresses all forms of violence against women, including forced prostitution, trafficking and sexual harassment.

Despite its shortcomings the National Plan does involve all governments, at all levels and across a range of portfolios – an approach which Amnesty welcomes. The plan also includes measurable targets and regular periods of review.

We must all continue to urge governments in Australia and overseas to stop all forms of violence against women. To take action visit - http://www.amnesty.org.au/svaw/comments/23416/?utm_medium=website&utm_source=carousel&utm_content=readmore

Annual Student Conference

Last Friday, the 6th of August, Amnesty NSW hosted a Youth Forum in Sydney. Around 70 students from across the country made the journey to Surry Hills to engage with other young people and to take new ideas back to Amnesty action groups throughout NSW.

The students attended a number of workshops throughout the day. Each covered how to utilise new forms of media to promote human rights and how to put ideas into action through community campaigning. Here participants learnt how to make a story ‘newsworthy’, engage with talk back radio and how to successfully conduct at elevating conversation with the public.

A third workshop looked at creative campaigning, and how this can be used as an innovative tool to promote Amnesty’s role to new audiences. Run by filmmaker Jed Stedman, this workshop encouraged students to think beyond traditional campaigning mediums, with Stedman’s new film used as a shining example of a creative campaigning method.

Other guest speakers throughout the day included the Inspire Foundation’s Matt O’Connor, the Street University’s L-FRESH, Get Up’s Tom Swann and Oaktree’s Samara Barchet. Each shared their experiences of activism and inspired the attendees to continue taking action against injustice and abuses of human rights.

Overall the conference was a great success and we hope that all the students involved felt that they learnt some valuable about engaging with the protection of human rights and the purpose of Amnesty International.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Locations for street teams for the week commencing on the 16th of August

Monday 16th of August 2010: Balmain, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Bathurst, Bowral, Nowra

Tuesday 17th of August 2010: Forestville, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Bathurst, Bowral, Nowra

Wednesday 18th of August 2010: Edgecliff, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Bathurst, Bowral, Nowra

Thursday 19th of August 2010: Milsons Point, Mittagong, Moss vale, Bathurst, Bowral, Nowra

Friday 20th of August 2010: CBD - Australia Square, Posit 2 - Pitt, Curtain place/OTS

Saturday 21st of August 2010: Mittagong, Moss Vale, Bathurst, Bowral, Nowra

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Training Day 24th of July 2010

On the 24th of July the Amnesty International NSW Community Campaigns Team organised, in cooperation with our fabulous NSW branch committee, a training day to allow current and future NSW activists the opportunity to attain a broader understanding of both our current campaigns, activism and how to improve their action group. With a warm welcome by Ruby Johnson, an outline of the day, and an introduction to the different workshops the day started well.

During a first workshop Ruby and Ingrid gave the participants an update on the Refugee, Burma and Iran campaign. Ruby explained how to campaign on refugee issues during the elections and how to have a meaningful conversation with people on these issues. Time was also dedicated to an overview of the different campaign materials our activists can use at their events. At the end of this session there was time for a Q&A which led to an interesting discussion.

After lunch, during which participants had time to get to know each other better and do some skill sharing, it was time for the four workshops planned for that day: Recruiting and retaining group members, facilitating meetings, activism and group activity and organising events. All workshops were found to be very useful, but due to lack of time not everyone could do all four of them. The positive comment we heard throughout the day was that the participants felt more empowered after meeting, talking to and sharing experiences with other groups. Also, the people who were thinking about joining an action group in the future got some first hand information from our long-term activists. A short debriefing and evaluation and a tour of all the campaigning resources marked the end of a very successful day!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Demand Dignity Update

Here’s a taste of our upcoming Demand Dignity Report.

Slums – Cambodia
The Australian Embassy remains a problem in Cambodia and will not speak out against the forced evictions that are happening across the country. The next report, tentatively due in the fourth quarter this year, will focus on the impact of forced evictions on women. Recommendations will include legal and judicial reform. There is scope to coordinate with other sections around action on this campaign.

*Maternal mortality – Indonesia
The Indonesia maternal mortality report will be launched on 16 September 2010 in Geneva. The focus will be on gender discrimination as the underlying barrier to accessing maternal health services. Key issues include:
The impact of discrimination on policy and law
Access to contraception
Consent from husbands
Discrimination against women living in poverty

The full report will be released soon, look out for it on the blog and on our website!

Refugee Campaign update & upcoming events

In the lead up to the election we are still campaigning on the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Action groups and activists have been organising amazing events all around the country. Check out the blog and the website for more details.

There are lots of upcoming events in the NSW region such as a refugee photography exhibition at Carriage work on the 1st of Sept, a myth busting series on the facts of the refugee debate (next one is tomorrow and a forum on the 14th Sept being organised by the Pitt Street Group with very interesting speakers. The Amnesty website has info on all these at http://www.amnesty.org.au/nsw/events

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions on attending or running events or if you need more materials.

Campaign for Burma

“Please use your liberty to promote ours” Aung San Suu Kyi

The people of Burma have been suffering too long. It's time to stand up for them. As most of you may be aware, the Burmese Government has promised to hold it's first elections in 20 years. Restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly are severe and likely to escalate as the vote draws near.

Amnesty is calling on ASEAN to put pressure on the Burmese government to protect the rights of the Burmese people. ASEAN has repeatedly emphasised that the elections should be held in a “free, fair and inclusive manner”. Yet those calls do not go far enough to highlight the human rights that are most at risk during the elections.

In light of the promised elections now until November is a great time to effect change for the Burmese people!

For anyone interested in campaigning on this important human rights issue over the next few months, we have a great number of campaigning material, posters and resources available for you. We also currently have a fantastic petition which we are sending to ASEAN’s Malaysian representative. Just contact the action centre and let us know if you’re planning an event or if you would like any materials.


Youth Conference

Last Friday, the 6th of August, Amnesty NSW hosted a Youth Forum in Sydney. Around 70 students from across the country made the journey to Surry Hills to engage with other young people and to take new ideas back to Amnesty action groups throughout NSW.

The students attended a number of workshops throughout the day. Each covered how to utilise new forms of media to promote human rights and how to put ideas into action through community campaigning. Here participants learnt how to make a story ‘newsworthy’, engage with talk back radio and how to successfully conduct at elevating conversation with the public.

A third workshop looked at creative campaigning, and how this can be used as an innovative tool to promote Amnesty’s role to new audiences. Run by filmmaker Jed Stedman, this workshop encouraged students to think beyond traditional campaigning mediums, with Stedman’s new film used as a shining example of a creative campaigning method.

Other guest speakers throughout the day included the Inspire Foundation’s Matt O’Connor, the Street University’s L-FRESH, Get Up’s Tom Swann and Oaktree’s Samara Barchet. Each shared their experiences of activism and inspired the attendees to continue taking action against injustice and abuses of human rights.

Overall the conference was a great success and we hope that all the students involved felt that learnt some valuable about engaging with the protection of human rights and the purpose of Amnesty International.

- stay tuned for photos!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Disappointment at the Pacific Island Forum Leader's Meeting

Members of the Pacific Island Forum were asked to pledge to "eradicate sexual and gender based violence" within the Pacific Island region as part of Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. However the leader's have done little to address this issue, and a serious lack of progress was evident at the Pacific Island Forum leader's meeting held on the 5th of August. The statement made by leaders on violence against women was described as "lip service to eradicating gender violence" by Pacific researcher Apolosi Bose. It outlined no specific steps or new policy designed to eradicate gender violence.

Bose argued at an AI event that "No Pacific Island government will achieve the Millennium Development Goals or the aims of the Pacific Plan if it does not take responsibility for the violence being committed against its own female citizens. Solving this problem is at the heart of social and economic advancement in the Pacific Region."

Previous action within the campaign has called on the Papua New Guinean Government to end violence against women, and similar pressure is being placed on other Pacific region governments. Here rates of violence against women are amongst the highest in the world. We must continue to urge governments to address these shocking figures.

Some progress has been made, with the Solomon Islands introducing a policy which addresses gender equality and gender violence. The recent appearance of Papua New Guinea before the UN committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for the first time also brings hope.

However, much more action needs to be taken and the efforts of the Pacific Islands Forum's leaders are not encouraging. To take further action and to urge pacific leaders to commit to action please visit http://www.amnesty.org.au/svaw/

Monday, August 9, 2010

Face to face locations for the week commencing on the 9th of August 2010

Monday 9th of August 2010: Revesby/OTS, Griffith, Wellington, Bland

Tuesday 10th of August 2010: Randwick/OTS, Griffith, Wellington, Bland

Wednesday 11th of August 2010: Gordon/OTS, Griffith, Wellington, Bland

Thursday 12th of August 2010: North Sydney/OTS, Mount St mall, Miller st, Walker st, Griffith, Wellington, Bland

Friday 13th of August 2010: CBD Circular Quay, Griffith, Wellington, Bland

Saturday 14th of August 2010: CBD Circular Quay, Griffith, Wellington, Bland

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Locations for Street Teams for the week commencing on the 2nd of August

Monday 2nd of August 2010: Summer Hill/OTS, Wollongong/OTS, Wendouree, Mudgee, Albury

Tuesday 3rd of August 2010: Paddington/DTD, Wollongong/OTS, Wendouree, Mudgee, Albury

Wednesday 4th of August 2010: Newtown/OTS, Bowral/OTS, Wendouree, Mudgee, Albury

Thursday 5th of August 2010: Moss Vale/OTS, Wendouree, Mudgee, Albury

Friday 6th of August 2010: North Sydney/Mount St Mall, Miller & Walker St, Goulburn/OTS, Wendouree, Mudgee, Albury

Saturday 7th of August 2010: Goulburn/OTS, Wendouree, Mudgee, Albury