Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Human Rights Innovation Fund - Update

As you know, 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 HRIF Committee worked actively in 2010 to promote the fund to a broad range of community organisations. Success is evidenced by the volume of applications, with 40 applications received over the four funding rounds in 2010. Applications addressed a wide variety of human rights issues, from child trafficking to refugees, using an array of techniques such as documentary films, photographic exhibitions, cultural festivals, web sites, forums, public events, mobile street stalls, theatre, human rights forums, education and training. Eight projects were funded for a total of $57,590, enabling Amnesty International to partner with organisations such as ANTaR Queensland and NSW, Peace Brigades International – Australia, the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA, Urapuntja Council Aboriginal Corporation and ActNow Theatre for Social Change.

In the last funding round of 2010, the HRIF Committee received fifteen applications for projects. There was an interesting mix of proposals including a travelling art and photography exhibition about Karen refugees in Thailand camps, cultural mapping relating to Indigenous land rights, human rights forums and a rights-based development radio program.

The Committee has chosen three proposals to fund. The first is a social marketing campaign by All Together Now, a relatively new organisation which aims to eliminate racist behaviour by promoting the acceptance of cultural diversity. All Together Now will partner with The Bodyshop to deliver a social media package to promote the rights and responsibilities of individuals as members of a tolerant, inclusive society. The project has a specific focus on race equality and will engage with young people, who are positive about diversity, and empower them to speak out about racism in a positive and courageous way. These younger people have a unique capacity to influence their ambivalent peers and family members. This ‘ambivalent group’ represents around 33% of the population as identified in the “Mapping Social Cohesion” report.

The second proposal to receive funds is the South Australian-based youth led theatre company, ActNow Theatre for Social Change Inc. Working with sexual health agency SHine SA and Southern Primary Health, ActNow Theatre will be the creative driver for the project Safe and Free, an interactive theatre performance addressing homophobia in high schools. The grant will enable the development of script/performance and three pilot presentations to school students on bullying, using homophobia as a case study.

Amnesty International will also partner with Peace Brigades International (PBI) – Australia, which provides crucial support to the organisation’s field projects in Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico and Nepal. PBI’s field teams comprise 60 – 80 international observers, who work with human rights defenders representing 40 grassroots human rights organisations and individuals. PBI’s accompaniment work is only effective to deter violence when it is supported by a highly organised and international Political Support Network, which represents, strengthens and focuses existing international concern. This network operates in a similar way to Amnesty International’s Urgent Action process for individuals at risk, however its focus is high-level advocacy and influence.

This project aims to enhance the protection of human rights defenders in PBI’s project countries, and the grant will enable the organisation of three high-profile public events specifically to build the membership of the Political Support Network. The project also provides an opportunity for us to develop our relationship with PBI through shared public forums, mutual promotion of events and activities, and the development of shared local human rights advocacy and protection strategies.

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: http://www.amnesty.org.au/about/comments/21694

There are 4 funding rounds each year – the first one for 2011 closes on 28th February.

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