[Alia Gabres opens HCH’s Vision In Action event, raising the voices of ordinary people affected by war and conflict]
Diaspora Action Australia (formerly the Humanitarian Crisis Hub) works with Australian community groups that promote the human rights of people living in war and conflict. We do this by:
- supporting their initiatives
- providing resources, information and training
- facilitating dialogue, mentoring and shared learning
- building networks
- amplifying their voices at local, national and international levels.
Diaspora Action Australia was proud to receive the Australian Council for International Development's Sir Ron Wilson Human Rights Award in 2011. The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) presents this award to an individual or organisation that has shown an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in the international development sector. We are greatly encouraged by the award – it acknowledges that there is great potential in Australia to develop a new model for humanitarian and development work that maximises the unique strengths and skills of diaspora organisations. More information on the award is available on the ACFID website.
Our current and past projects are detailed below; scroll down for more information.
Diaspora Action Australia’s Women Leading Change Forum has been bringing diaspora leaders from South Sudanese, Sri Lankan, Hazara, Oromo, Ogaden, Bahai and Iranian communities together for the past year to share skills and build links.
The community engagement team supports communities that promote peace building, development, and human rights. We do this by through mentoring, tailored workshops and cultivating networks. Mentoring involves one-on-one support to a community organisation in areas of their choice. These partnerships can last several months or several years.
Diaspora Action Australia began work with Diaspora Lanka in late 2010. This innovative organisation brings together Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Sinhala people to build a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka after almost 30 years of civil war.
Diaspora Lanka works towards diaspora unity in Australia as well as restoration efforts in regional Sri Lanka through initiatives including:
- livelihood support
- business development
- service advocacy
- urban planning
- social cohesion initiatives
Diaspora Action Australia has been assisting Diaspora Lanka with community outreach and by providing professional consultants in areas such as marketing, communications and business planning.
This storytelling project collates the personal experiences of ordinary people who have protected themselves and others in situations of conflict. Stories take many forms, such as creative writing pieces, film, multimedia, music and spoken performances.
The project is part of a wider five-year program that commenced in 2010 and is scheduled to be completed by 2015. We hope these stories will show the resourcefulness and initiatives of people living in conflict, many of whom have come to Australia as refugees.
[Marisol Salinas speaks of traditional Indigenous Mapuche approaches to self protection in Chile]
The storytellers also use their stories on their own websites to raise awareness about the human rights situation in their countries of origin.
For more information, see the Stories of Survival page.
[Sudanese Lost Boys Association of Australia poster featuring the survival story of community member, Monica Amako]
Diaspora Action Australia's workshop program is designed specifically for refugee and migrant groups involved in the promotion of human rights in war and conflict. These sessions combine theory and practical activities that fully engage all participants.
They enable community organisations to build knowledge, capacity and expertise on human rights promotion and community development.
The workshops are facilitated by people who have specialised knowledge, often through first-hand experience of conflict, and offer real-world advice on how to find practical support and resources in Australia.
Over 90 participants, including refugees, migrants, students and members of the wider community who are committed to human rights promotion, have attended Diaspora Action Australia workshops since they commenced in 2009. The participants came from more than 20 organisations representing communities from Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Diaspora Action Australia is committed to making the workshops as accessible as possible, by offering them on weekends and evenings, free of charge.
In 2014 a new workshop program will be offered. For information on the workshops and dates, see the Training page.
In 2013 Diaspora Action Australia ran a six-week program for the South Sudanese community, which focused on exploring project development and advocacy strategies for South Sudan. We were fortunate to also have in attendance the Deputy Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, Mr Toby Lanzer.
More than 30 participants, representing organisations or exploring ideas around supporting the development of South Sudan – were keen to share their views. The discussion included how the UN was currently able to reach remote areas of South Sudan and how the diaspora could be more effectively supported to bring their capacity and skills to the important re-development work on the ground.
The Ogaden Community of Victoria
[Members of the Ogaden community, HCH and the Ecumenical Migration Centre at a workshop.]
Diaspora Action Australia has been providing mentored support to the Ogaden community of Victoria since 2010. They are strong advocates for the human rights of people in their native Ogaden, in south-eastern Ethiopia. Diaspora Action Australia works closely with the community to increase the effectiveness of their work. Activities have included:
- training and mentoring in advocacy, strategic planning and publications
- assisting the community to prepare a submission to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which highlighted their concerns for the human rights situation in Ethiopia
- participation in our Vision in Action event during which the Ogaden community organised a stall with photos and videos
[A voter celebrates at the South Sudan referendum polling centre in West Footscray, Victoria.]
From November 2010 to January 2011, Diaspora Action Australia and the Sudanese Lost Boys Association of Australia (SLBAA) formed a partnership that raised community awareness about the voting process for the South Sudan referendum and helped South Sudanese Australian voters get to polling centres. This historic referendum led to the formation of the new Republic of South Sudan in July 2011.
This contributed to making Australia the country with the third-largest voter turnout outside of Sudan, despite a smaller South Sudanese population than other countries. The Melbourne polling centre had the highest voter participation of any polling centre outside of Africa, with 4,005 votes registered.
Diaspora Action Australia and SLBAA provided bus, train and air transport to 449 adults and 82 children from Launceston, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Coffs Harbour, Mildura and Swan Hill to the Melbourne and Sydney polling centres where they could cast their momentous vote. People in states without polling centres — Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia — particularly elders, sole parents, low-income earners, people with disabilities, and those with infants were prioritised.
The success of the partnership was recognised by the then Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Kevin Rudd as an initiative that over many months delivered the best possible outcome for South Sudanese Australian voters.
[Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, congratulates The South Sudanese Association of Australia, The Sudanese Lost Boys Association of Australia and the Humanitarian Crisis Hub in their support for the South Sudan referendum.
Left to Right: Ambrose Mareng (Secretary, Southern Sudanese Community of Australia), Denise Cauchi (Director, Diaspora Action Australia), Akoc Manhiem (Executive Director SLBAA, Australian Foreign Minister The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Barnabas Bol Kot (President, Southern Sudan Community of Australia), Government of Southern Sudan Mission Chief Mariano Deng Ngor, the Federal Member for Melbourne Adam Brandt and State Member for Richmond Richard Wynne.]
In March 2011 Diaspora Action Australia proudly hosted Vision in Action at Federation Square, Melbourne. This inspiring event attracted 250 people and celebrated the extraordinary actions of ordinary people in protecting human rights in war and conflict.
Diaspora community organisations in Victoria raised awareness about the creative initiatives that they use to address the gross human rights abuses that occur in their countries of origin.
Participating groups included:
- Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria;
- The Australian Society for the Palestinian-Iraqi Refugees Emergency;
- Care4Congo International;
- Hope and Care for All International;
- Latin American Solidarity Network;
- Sudanese Lost Boys Association of Australia;
- The Ogaden Community of Victoria; and
- Victoria West Papuan Association Incorporated.
Vision in Action featured a panel discussion that was moderated by the then-commissioner of the Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Dr Helen Szoke. The discussion centred on the relationship between the international humanitarian sector, community organisations and human rights in conflict-affected countries.
[Panellists Chris Roche (left) and Akoc Manheim (right) explored creative approaches for improving the lives of people within conflict.]
Throughout the evening, attendees (including representatives from the office of the Member for Melbourne Adam Brandt, and representatives from AusAID, Oxfam Australia, Amnesty International Australia and World Vision Australia) were treated to extraordinary performances from refugee and migrant communities from West Papua, Eritrea, India and South Sudan. The Future of Rap from South Sudan closed the evening with a hard-hitting performance about child soldiers and their experience of starting their new lives in Australia.
[Left: Care4Congo Project Director, Clyde Salumu explains their projects to the public. Below: Eight diaspora groups display the different methods in which they promote human rights.]