Friday, March 25, 2011

Making the Most of the Media: Media Workshop

Please join us for this exciting media workshop:

This media course offers practical advice for effective media work. Media is an essential method for taking human rights messages to wide and diverse audiences. Engaging with the media can determine the success of a campaign and can help influence community attitudes and perceptions.

This workshop aims to provide the essential tools and tips for engaging with media and making good media work integral to your activism including:
  • Getting into the media

  • Creating a scene

  • Writing a media release

  • Writing a letter to the editor

  • Being effective online

  • The all important interview

  • Knowing your Amnesty facts and messages

When: Thursday 5th of May 6:00 - 8:30pm

Where: NSW Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St Chippendale


Thursday, March 17, 2011

NSW 'Get Active' Evening

The NSW region will hold a 'Get Active' Evening to give new members, activists and volunteers an introduction to Amnesty International and present the various ways in which you can get involved in the defence of human rights.

When: Tuesday, March 22nd, time TBC

Where: At the NSW action centre - Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale


Authorities again fail to ensure justice for the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee

Amnesty International has expressed outrage at the Queensland Police Service’s failure to secure justice for the death in custody of Indigenous man Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004.

The Queensland Police Service yesterday rejected the Crime and Misconduct Commission’s recommendation to bring disciplinary action against the officers involved in the flawed investigation that followed Mr Doomadgee’s death.

Several inquests into Mr Doomadgee’s death and criminal proceedings against Sergeant Hurley have not resulted in accountability for Mr Doomadgee’s tragic death.

“This decision means that here we are, six years on, and achieving justice for Mr Doomadgee and his family is further away from becoming a reality,” said Katie Wood, Amnesty International Australia.

Last year, the Crime and Misconduct Commission found that investigations into Mr Doomadgee’s death were neither impartial nor thorough.

“In what may seem like an obvious requirement, investigations into deaths in police custody must be conducted independently of the police responsible for that custody,” said Katie Wood.

“A lack of impartiality and independence leads to flawed police investigations and ultimately denies any opportunity for justice for a death in custody,” said Katie Wood.

Amnesty International has raised its concerns about the death and subsequent investigation with various UN bodies. In 2008, for instance, the UN Committee Against Torture urged Australia to ensure that any deaths in detention are investigated promptly, independently and impartially.

The organisation also continues to call on both the Queensland and Federal Governments to ensure that the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations are implemented, so that another Indigenous family does not have to again endure such a distressing situation.

“Ensuring accountability for the taking of Mr Doomadgee’s life is one very significant part of preventing future tragic deaths,” said Katie Wood.

We did it!

After five years of our letter writing, petition signing and advocacy, our leaders have stepped up and released a national plan to help put an end to violence against women in Australia.

Did you know that some 4 million women in Australia have experienced violence at home, intimidation by their loved ones or sexual abuse at some stage of their lives? Worst of all, it often takes place out of sight or behind closed doors, helping abusers escape justice. This isn’t a distant problem happening in another country: it’s right here in our living rooms, our streets and our communities.

But together, our hard work has ensured our politicians have put in place a positive blueprint to help eradicate violence against women for good.

For the first time in our country’s history, we have a nationwide framework that will protect survivors of physical and sexual abuse, provide sufficient services to women and children experiencing violence and prosecute abusers. Under this plan, survivors of violence will receive the same level of support and protection, no matter which state or territory they’re in.

It’s a coordinated, all-of-government approach, and your actions made sure it happened.

Remember, wins like this don’t happen overnight. This victory says so much about the persistence, passion and power of the Amnesty movement when we come together to demand change. This is not the work of one person alone; it’s the work of thousands of people like you.

Just last week, we celebrated the centenary of International Women's Day by remembering the remarkable achievements of women in Australia and around the world. And what a way to celebrate!

Thank you and congratulations for making Australia a better, fairer place for women.

To read abut the plan and how you made it happen:

Now that our politicians have responded to our calls, it’s important to acknowledge their actions. If you've got a moment, you can leave a short message of thank you with us (through the above link) and we'll deliver it directly to the former and current federal ministers for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek and Kate Ellis.

AI@50 Regional Feature Stories

Are you a local activist, human rights defender or victim of human rights abuses? Do you know a local activist, human rights defender or victim of human rights abuses?

Do you feel like sharing your story?

Amnesty International Australia is on the look-out for inspiring stories which would be highlighted in local media outlets to coincide with Amnesty's 50th Birthday.

If you want to participate in this celebration, than just send us the following information at the following address: before May 2nd

1- Name (individual or group)

2- One-two sentences about your story and why it would be of interest. E.g. Why did you get involved, what did you do (letter writing, advocacy, have you experienced human rights abuses) and what makes your story unique and inspirational?

3- Relationship/connection with Amnesty International. E.g. Are you a supporter of Amnesty, since when, have you been involved in campaigns, etc?

4- Available photos

5- Contact details

Online Action : Demand your MP end mandatory detention

To date, the refugee debate in Australia has been dominated by misinformation and unfounded fears. As a result, the unfair and ineffective policy of mandatory detention has continued virtually unchallenged.

As Australia’s detention system deteriorates, it’s time to get your MP to rethink refugees and support a detention policy that is based on the facts:

- It is not illegal to seek asylum, even if arriving by boat (Australian Migration Act, 1958);

- Most asylum seekers who arrive by boat are found to be genuine refugees; and

- Asylum seekers who arrive by boat make up less than 2% of our overall migration.

Mandatory detention ignores these facts, and unfairly punishes people who are exercising their right to asylum. Demand that your MP support an end to mandatory detention, and represent your concerns to the rest of their party.

Get involved:

Sign the petition below and demand your local MP help end mandatory detention in Australia.

To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives,

I am calling on my federal representative to rethink refugees and help end the policy of mandatory detention. This policy ignores the facts:

- It is not illegal to seek asylum, even if arriving by boat (Australian Migration Act, 1958);
- Most asylum seekers who arrive by boat are found to be genuine refugees; and
- The numbers of asylum seekers who arrive by boat make less than 2% of our overall migration.

I believe that mandatory detention unfairly punishes people fleeing war, terror and violence. I call on all MPs to show real leadership on this issue and commit to detention reform that focuses on the humane, efficient and cost-effective policy of housing asylum seekers in the community.

More information on:

Will Christmas Island inquiry meet international human rights standards?

Amnesty International has called for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to immediately announce the terms of the inquiry into the use of force against protesting asylum seekers on Christmas Island, and to confirm that it will meet international human rights standards regarding independence and impartiality.

“Following revelations that bean bag rounds, fired by shotguns, were used against protesting asylum seekers on Christmas Island, Minister Bowen must urgently confirm that the incidents will be fully and independently investigated and that the finding of the inquiry will be made publicly available,” said Andrew Beswick, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International Australia.

“While the full details of the incidents in which tear gas and shotguns were used are yet to emerge, this use of force on Christmas Island is extremely concerning. Amnesty International expects that an independent inquiry will establish and disclose whether the use of force was appropriate and proportional, and whether the situation was properly managed by authorities and contractors prior to the deployment of force.

“So far, the Government response has raised more questions than it has answered.”

In 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recommended that Australia establish mechanisms to carry out independent investigations of complaints concerning excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. Amnesty International fully expects that the inquiry into incidents on Christmas Island comply with this recommendation.

While the Australian Federal Police guidelines governing the use of force are not publicly available, Amnesty International calls on the agency to confirm that they are in line with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. “Amnesty International has repeatedly warned of deteriorating conditions within the detention centres on Christmas Island,” said Andrew Beswick. “The Government must take immediate steps to address the underlying issues, including the length of time it is taking to process asylum claims, and the remote overcrowded conditions in which asylum seekers are being detained.”

Amnesty International has also reiterated its call for minimum standards of training to be introduced for all government and contractor staff who engage with asylum seekers in detention, including training in dealing with critical incidents and mental health issues.

The international human rights organisation continues to call for an end to the mandatory, offshore and remote detention of asylum seekers.


Following a visit to Christmas Island to inspect detention facilities and conditions in October 2010, Amnesty International provided this briefing to the UN Committee Against Torture:

Amongst the concerns raised by Amnesty International were the length of time it is taking the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to process claims and the lack of adequate medical, mental health and counselling services available to the growing populations in remote detention centres such as Christmas Island.

At the time of Amnesty International’s visit, hundreds of people were being detained in tent-style accommodation on Christmas Island and additional facilities were hastily being erected to cope with new arrivals. At that time, some asylum seekers had been detained on the remote island for over 16 months.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Film screening of eye-opening documentary, "Our Generation"

On Friday, April 8th*, Amnesty International Australia will host a film screening at the NSW Action Centre, to bring attention to the Australian government’s failure to uphold its international commitment to protecting the rights of indigenous people.

Directed and produced by Sinem Saban and Damien Curtis – who have both been involved in fighting for Aboriginal rights for years –, “Our Generation” tells the story of a struggle hidden from the Australian public and shows how the nation’s first people continue in their fight for survival despite the National Apology issued by the Labor government in 2008.

This film is a call to Australia to take a fresh and unflinching look at these unresolved issues.

Renowned journalist, Jeff McMullen will give an introduction at the screening.

Please RSVP to

*Time yet to be confirmed

Introducing Amnesty International Australia's new Reconciliation Action Plan

First of all, what is a Reconciliation Action Plan?

The RAP program was launched in July 2006 as a forward looking aspect of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, the most successful in Australia’s history, in which more than 90% of voters said “YES” to equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fellow citizens.

The RAP program turns “good intentions into action” by encouraging and supporting organisations, large and small, to engage within their sphere of influence in the national effort to close the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and other Australians.

Over the last year, Amnesty International Australia in conjunction with Reconciliation Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants, have been working on our Reconciliation Action Plan. At the end of January, we took the opportunity to celebrate the completion of the RAP and launched it at a joint ceremony with the opening of the new Adelaide action centre.

The RAP has been coming together for quite a while, and we should particularly thank Sophie Peer for all her work in producing the Plan. A big thank you also to Reconciliation Australia, for providing guidance and support as we created our first RAP.

More information about Reconciliation Australia:

and Amnesty International Australia’s RAP:

Join the Rethink Refugee Campaign

Let's reject the myths and think again about asylum seekers and refugees

As part of the Amnesty International Refugee and Asylum Seeker Campaign, an action pack – including details of letters, photo messages and video messages – petitions, flyers, and solidarity cards in both Persian and English are now available for you to get involved and change the discourse on refugees!

If you are interested in these documents or want to plan a public event, please email: to register your interests.

Check out the website for more info about the issue & the campaign!