On March 1, in the lead up to International Women’s Day, the United Nations Information Centre Canberra, International Organization for Migration, the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum and the Canberra Multicultural Women Forum held a community event to promote the ‘Together, Safety and Dignity for All Initiative’ . It was also an opportunity to promote the recent establishment of the Canberra Multicultural Women’s Forum. The rest of the story is here also on our website.
On March 1, in the lead up to International Women’s Day, the United Nations Information Centre Canberra, International Organization for Migration, the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum and the Canberra Multicultural Women Forum held a community event to promote the ‘Together, Safety and Dignity for All Initiative’ . It was also an opportunity to promote the recent establishment of the Canberra Multicultural Women’s Forum (the Women’s Forum).
Opening the event the Chair of the Women’s Forum, Ms Laura Aoun noted that many of the people in the audience were living proof that those from migrant and refugee backgrounds have enriched Canberra and Australia more broadly in ‘more ways than we realize’.
The Director of the UNIC Canberra, Mr Christopher Woodthorpe, noted the similarities between the Women’s forum – which bases it work on equal participation of women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds – and the UN’s Together Initiative – which seeks to promote the importance of such work. In closing he invited everyone to celebrate women, rejoice in diversity and to come together.
Chief of Mission for IOM, Mr Jo Appiah, in his speech said that “on International Women’s Day the International Organization for Migration (IOM) embraces the official United Nations theme, Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030, by honoring migrant women and girls and called for us all to take a moment to recognize not just their specific contributions but also their challenges”.
Inter-dispersed between speeches the over one hundred strong audience was privy to two fine performances – firstly by the local ACT Chinese Australian Association Ladies Dance Group followed by the pace of some very colorful Colombians.
The keynote speech of the night was given by Her Excellency the High Commissioner of Pakistan, Naela Chohan during which she said that “today there is a growing number of women in conflict situation compelled to become refugees and migrants. It is indeed among the most urgent humanitarian challenges of our times. Much of this displacement has neither been voluntary nor orderly. People particularly women and children have been fleeing from desperate conditions of conflict, war or poverty. These helpless women and children on the move, deserve compassion and humane treatment”.
29 January 2017
Sydney Jewish Museum
UNIC Canberra joined the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and descendants at a moving yet inspirational ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Australia has a strong connection to the Holocaust as it has more survivors per capita than any other country and many of them were in attendance to listen to a wide range of speakers spanning the generations.
The attendees were also able to appreciate the exhibit “The State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” which was on display in the auditorium.
In his introduction, Professor Gus Lehrer, President of the Museum, stressed the importance of the preservation of memory and education and how we must not just recall the events, but also the experiences they caused. Noting how the horrors of those days led to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he announced the Museum would be creating a new section which would deal with the issue of the Holocaust and Human Rights.
There followed a solemn lighting of candles by survivors present, followed by Olga Horak, OAM who eloquently gave her testimony, describing her experience in the camps as “the bottom of hell, where the only music was that of intolerable heartache and sorrow and … living was worse than dying”.
As part of the UN’s “Together, Respect Safety and Dignity for All” Campaign Belinda Mason Director of the film ‘Constance on the Edge” talks to UNIC Canberra’s Julia Dean about the strength and resilience of migrants – what they have to offer their new communities and how a chat and a hot ‘cup of tea’ may be all that is needed to create new friendships.
The film Constance on the Edge, filmed over 10 years, is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of one refugee family’s resettlement story in Australia. Brave, lion-hearted, charismatic Constance, mother of six, confronts her painful past in war torn Sudan, and risks everything in Australia so her family can thrive.
On 1 December, in collaboration with the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, and the Council of Arab Ambassadors, UNIC Canberra held a reception at the Albert Hall in Canberra.
The celebration also featured traditional fashion show, a Palestinian cultural corner, and a photography exhibition looking at nearly seven decades of UNRWA delivering education services to Palestine refugee children in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank.
In Australia the occasion was marked in Canberra with a flag raising ceremony jointly organised by UNIC Canberra with the United Nations Association of Australia, together with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
UNIC Canberra assisted with logistical arrangements and also on the 18th of October organised a press conference for the Special Rapporteur to present his preliminary findings to the Australian media.
During the press conference he called on the Government of Australia to urgently dispel civil society’s growing concerns about the combined ‘chilling effect’ of its recent laws, policies and actions constraining the rights of human rights defenders and noted that he “was astonished to observe mounting evidence of a range of cumulative measures that have concurrently levied enormous pressure on Australian civil society.”
UNIC Canberra National Information Officer Julia Dean interviewed the Special Rapporteur for
In a small town in New South Wales there is a small stone school surrounded by 100 year old elm trees. The students of Murringo Primary School and UNIC Canberra spent a happy day discussing, interviewing and filming thoughts on the Sustainable Development Goals – this is the result.
The briefing was focused on the El Nino climate pattern over the last year, its impact on Papua New Guinea and the corresponding humanitarian efforts to assist communities.
Beginning his briefing, Mr Trivedy said that the El Nino brought with it severe drought and frosts which was catastrophic for a country like Papua New Guinea which has 80 percent of its population heavily reliant of subsistence agriculture.
He explained the various impacts of the El Nino and how communities struggled to cope. One main issue was the lack of rainfall which resulted in the rivers and rainwater catchments drying up leading to a drastic decrease in access to clean water for drinking, cooking and washing. And where communities were reliant on waterways for transport the drop in water level caused difficulties in accessing markets, he said.
In addition to these problems drought created food shortages and food insecurity as food gardens wouldn’t grow – resulting in some communities having to rely on wild crops and berries which is generally regarded as famine food, he added.