In this edition:

South Sudanese Leaders Retreat for Peace
Our Major Research Project is Complete
Denise Cauchi Elected to ACFID Board
Our Annual Report is Here!
Friends of DAA Event this Friday: You're invited!
ACFID Briefing on Africa Policy
Social Media Workshop
MamaLand's New Video
Volunteer With Us
Dear friends and supporters,

Welcome to our final newsletter for 2014. It’s been a busy 12 months, and we still have several major events to go before we can celebrate the end of another successful year.
It has been another very satisfying year working with our partners and other diaspora organisations. Every year I’m amazed that such a small organisation can achieve such a vast amount, and I’m always inspired by the passion and commitment of the people who are part of diaspora organisations.
Our 2014 Annual Report, which was just released at our annual general meeting, outlines many of our recent activities and I hope you can take a few minutes to look at it on our website.
Our first major research project, “Understanding diaspora-led development & peacebuilding” was also launched earlier this month. Much of the work that is done by diaspora organisations in Australia is not widely understood, but our report defines this growing sector, its benefits and challenges. 
Finally, a big thank you to all our supporters and volunteers for your generous financial support, time and expertise. We couldn’t do this without you. I look forward to seeing you again in 2015.
Best wishes,
Denise Cauchi (Director)
DAA is coordinating a major event that will bring together the leaders of 60 Victorian-based South Sudanese communities to explore how they can unite and work together as one community.
The South Sudanese leaders retreat on the weekend of December 5-7 will include leaders from 60 different sub-tribal groups that are represented across Victoria. DAA’s community co-ordinator, David Nyuol Vincent, and his team are working with the South Sudanese Unification Committee to put together the retreat, which will take place near Healesville.

Fostering Peace and Harmony

“The event aims to foster peace and harmony among the South Sudanese community in Victoria, with the hope that this can be replicated around Australia,” David said. A key objective is to seek consensus among the leaders to form an umbrella body that will represent South Sudanese communities across Victoria.
The event was inspired by recent peace negotiations involving the two warring South Sudanese groups, which met in Ethiopia. “There are still tensions in South Sudan and experience has shown us that these tensions do not necessarily stop at a country’s border, they can spill over into diaspora communities in Australia and elsewhere in the world.
“We hope that this retreat will help ease those tensions in local communities  in Victoria so we can all work together to make a contribution to  development and human rights back in South Sudan.” 

"A unified diaspora has enormous power to make a difference in its homeland."

The Victorian Multicultural Commission, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and Victoria Police are co-partners of the event.  
This month we launched our much-awaited research report, “Understanding diaspora-led development & peacebuilding”. This is the first report of its kind in Australia. DAA Director, Denise Cauchi, said the report recognises diaspora groups as the innovators of the new humanitarian landscape.

“Diaspora organisations understand their communities here, and back in their country of origin better than anyone else."

They know how to tap into these communities, they understand their needs, the challenges and the best way to get things done,” Denise said. “They are coming to the attention of the government, policy-makers and aid organisations because they are so effective in delivering community-based projects at a low-cost.”
The report is based on case studies of five diaspora organisations: Peace Palette, Oromia Support Group Australia, Mamaland Hope for Future Foundation, Darfur Community Association of Australia and Darfur Australia Network and Wec Nyin Australia. Collectively, their projects include building a centre for homeless children, establishing a community garden, providing
hospital materials, advocacy and campaigning and support for asylum seekers. Activities are spread across communities in the Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The report's cover: click to access the full PDF

The report’s findings include:
  • Diaspora organisations deliver small-scale projects at a very low cost;
  • they have unique characteristics, strengths and challenges that make them complementary actors in the aid and development space; 
  • one of their great strengths is their connection to the community and
  • lack of resourcing is their overarching challenge.
Congratulations to our Director, Denise Cauchi, on her appointment to the board of theAustralian Council for International Development (ACFID). ACFID is Australia’s peak council for not-for-profit aid and development organisations. DAA and other members of ACFID agree to follow a code of good practice and transparency.

“I’m very pleased to have been appointed to the board. It will help strengthen our ties with ACFID, and at the same time I’ll be able to contribute knowledge and expertise on behalf of DAA. It will also give us the opportunity to learn more about other ACFID members, what they are doing and how they are doing it. Australia’s network of NGOs is stronger and more effective at addressing poverty and campaigning for peace when we share our collective knowledge.”
Our annual report has just been launched. It has been a busy year – in the past 12 months, 56 diaspora groups have accessed our workshops and support services, which is almost double the number compared to last year. Our volunteer numbers have continued to grow and we became a full member of ACFID.
The report (pdf) shares insight into DAA’s advocacy and support activities, and our workshops that this year included fundraising, social networking, grant writing, event management, volunteer recruitment and engaging decision makers and communities. Importantly, it highlights the fantastic aid, advocacy and support activities of our partner organisations.
The report's cover: click for full PDF
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Come along on Friday evening to our next social get together and meet people who share your passion for peace, development and human rights. David Nyoul Vincent (right), who is our community coordinator and the founder of Peace Palette, will speak about his book, ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Die’, the story of how he fled the conflict in South Sudan for Australia. Event details:
DAA has hosted a forum with five diaspora groups and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) to discuss the impact of the Federal Government’s cuts to international aid. The 40 percent cut to aid in the African region and the Middle East, which was announced in January, has caused great concern among non-government organisations (NGOs).
DAA’s community coordinator, David Nyuoi Vincent, and our Director, Denise Cauchi, hosted the meeting. The meeting was attended by representatives of Mamaland, Peace Palette, Darfur Australia Network, the Oromia Support Group Australia and Care4Congo, which pursue peace, development, advocacy and fundraising activities for communities in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. 
Denise said this was the first time DAA had acted as an intermediary to bring together the community groups and ACFID, which is a peak body that provides leadership for the not-for-profit sector in Australia.
“These groups were invited because they are important participants in the developmental sector. It was a chance for all to raise their concerns and to get a better understanding of the impact of the cuts. Understandably, there
is a lot of sensitivity around the issue as funding is a major factor if NGOs are to keep going forward with developmental activities in the region.”

Marc Purcell, the CEO of ACFID, explained that the decision has resulted in the deferral of funding to essential programs to improve the quality of life, such as sanitation programs in Zimbabwe and health programs in Ethiopia. He explained that the Australian Government liaises with a combination of foreign governments, businesses and local organisations while planning its international aid budget.
Marama Kufi, co-ordinator of Oramia Support Group Australia, expressed concern about the government’s cuts and funding arrangements. “We need education in the region to provide genuine stability. We need to empower people in Africa and it needs to be from the grassroots or we will never change the reality of that region,” explained Marama.
The cuts have further highlighted the importance of the non-government sector. According to ACFID, last financial year Australians raised about $1.4 billion for Australian aid and development NGOs. Approximately 20 percent of the sector’s revenue was from the government. 
DAA recently shared a fantastic day with members from our partner organisations at a social media workshop we hosted that focused on the tools and strategy needed to build a profile online. Our aim was to enable our partners to take part in the online and transnational conversations of the social media world, particularly on peacebuilding, development, and human rights.

It is important to us that our diaspora partner organisations are able to represent and speak for themselves, and be in control of their own image and message. We were thrilled to be able to share some of the knowledge, tools and support for them to do so online.

We did have a lovely example of the power of interconnected communities. After 
we cautioned that simply setting up accounts and posting a few status updates would not necessarily create instant donations or advocates (as being successful on social media is often a labour of love and strategy), MamaLand had, within about an hour of creating their page, a local in Juba message to say they were pleased to hear about their kitchen project and could they please volunteer!

We were also pleased to see younger volunteers of the organisations attend, both to make use of their web savvy and to see commitment in the younger generations of the diaspora to improving the situation in their family's country of origin.

All in all, there was such an enjoyable atmosphere to the day, and we thank everyone for their efforts. We look forward to seeing you online!

Mamaland's New Video

Mamaland Hope for Future Foundation: The Juba Kitchen Project
Watch the Video
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We recently produced a new video for our partner organisation Mamaland Hope for Future Foundation. Watch to find out about their new project: restarting a kitchen in Juba to provide training and income for women, and meals for homeless children.

Volunteer with us

We are always looking for skilled and passionate people to join our team of volunteersPeople with international development or community development experience, activist backgrounds and refugees and migrants from countries experiencing conflict/humanitarian crises are especially encouraged to apply. If you are interested in one of our current vacancies, or you would like us to keep you in mind for future opportunities, send your resume to our Volunteer Coordinator.
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