Monday, September 27, 2010

Human rights Innovation Fund Update

The purpose of the HRIF is to provide those interested in promoting and defending human rights with direct access to funding to support new, innovative and creative initiatives which will have impact in Australia. The HRIF is an important part of Amnesty International's ongoing commitment to developing and nurturing partnerships with other organisations to increase our human rights impact.

The Committee received nine applications for projects in this year’s third funding round which closed on 31 August. There was an interesting mix of proposals including a social marketing project to reduce racism, a web site for school communities about preventing violence and two documentary films about refugees.

The Committee has chosen to fund two proposals. The first is a mobile photo exhibition, Manuwangku: Our Country is Our Spirit. The exhibition is designed to engage the Australian public in support of the Aboriginal community of Muckaty (Manuwangkyu) to defend their country from radioactive waste dumping. The photo exhibition will give the Aboriginal communities' affected a collective voice against the proposed waste dump. The photographer, Jagath Dheerasekara, has an impressive CV and his photo documentary of the Alyawarr people is worth a look ( For those of you in the Sydney Action Centre, I have some of these photos on my wall!

The exhibition will be toured by the Beyond Nuclear Initiative, which operates from the office of the Arid Lands Environment Centre in Alice Springs. BNI works to support, educate and empower Indigenous communities on the consequences of nuclear projects. In relation to proposed radioactive waste dumps in the NT, BNI is focused on countering mainstream media depiction of the NT as ‘the middle of nowhere’. In 2011, BNI will organise a series of speaking events for Traditional Owners on the east coast of Australia and will feature the photo exhibition at all of these events. They believe this photo exhibition will greatly enhance people’s understanding of the areas being targeted through portraying the stunning landscape and strong connection Traditional Owners maintain to the area.

The second project is an initiative of two distinct and unique homeland communities of Utopia and North East Arnhem Land which is auspiced by the Central Land Council and the Urapuntja Aboriginal Corporation. The issue of shelter and housing is a significant priority for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, and this project, More than Bricks and Mortar, will bring together two strong Aboriginal groups and leaders to meet, share and exchange their experiences and knowledge on housing and human rights issues. The Utopia residents are aware that North East Arnhem Land homelands are involved in a project with the Jack Thompson Foundation which has seen community residents engaged in building their own housing. Through this exchange tour, Utopia residents will visit North East Arnhem communities to see this project and share ideas for the future.

If you have any questions or comments about the Human Rights Innovation Fund please contact me. If you know of an individual or organisation interested in applying for funds, please visit our web site for the guidelines and application form at:

There are 4 funding rounds each year – the last one for 2010 closes on 30th November.

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