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Changing the Conversation
It's time to rethink the words we use on the topic of seeking asylum.
Go-getting refugees start over with startups
Innovative resettlement program ignites entrepreneurial passions.
An interview with Academy-Award winning filmmaker Eva Orner, a woman who won’t settle for government secrecy.
A family recipe from the Harasta foothills.
Meet Monga Khan, Australia’s Forgotten Folk Hero
An interview with Adelaide street artist Peter Drew, the man who’s daring Australian to rethink what it means to be an Aussie.
A Musical Look into Life in an Outback Prison.
The Coronial Inquest into Ms Dhu’s Death in Police Custody Is Australia’s Media and Criminal Justice System Broken?
The Aboriginal Hip Hop Reggae Band Looking to Heal & Unite Communities.
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What if I told you that your everyday products could change the world?
A guide to purchasing products that give back.
Charity Tap: Can Your Ice Cold Beer Help Change the World?
Melbourne initiative makes the world a better place, one pint at a time.
A Beginner’s Guide to Volunteering Abroad Exploring Indonesia, the Ethical Way.
How to Consume with a Clear Conscience An interview with Nick Ray, Co-founder of Shop Ethical
Travelling to be Better
Could the Simple Act of Travel Hold the Key to World Peace?
Editorial Well, here it is - Edition 7 of AM-Unity Magazine. With every edition, our voice grows louder; our vision grows clearer, and our ideas grow braver. In Edition 7, an army of artists, writers, change-makers and social justice warriors have come together to sway you with their heartfelt art, words, and ideas. I hope you enjoy the ride. This time around, we turn our focus to Indigenous justice, social enterprise and refugee rights. The Edition is jam-packed with interviews, essays, reviews, stories, and illustrations, and a profile feature with street artist Peter Drew. The topic of Indigenous incarceration is up for discussion in a poignant review of documentary Prison Songs (p.33). The recent inquest into Aboriginal woman Ms Dhu’s death in police custody begs the question: Why is our media turning a blind eye? (p.37) From Thankyou water and Who Gives A Crap toilet paper (p.49) to Charity Taps (p.51), we introduce you to a new wave of social entrepreneurs who are more focused on making a difference than simply making a profit. If words are weapons, are we hurting refugees with dehumanising language? How can we flip the script and elevate the conversation? (p.9) Academy-Award winning filmmaker Eva Orner (p.19) tells us about her latest documentary Chasing Asylum. Convinced that seeing is believing, Orner uses controversial secret footage to open our eyes to the human rights violations perpetrated at Australia’s offshore detention camps. And Asyh Allah (p.23) sheds light on the humanity that is often obscured by sensational media reports of the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s an honour to present Edition 7 of AM-Unity Magazine. This is my first innings as Editor-in-Chief of this unique publication and it has been an absolute joy to collaborate with such a clever, talented, and compassionate mob of contributors. They have dished up some serious food for thought for Edition 7 – dig in!
Thank you for your support,
Carmen Cita Editor-in-Chief
CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR IN CHIEF: Carmen Cita ARTIST CURATOR: Liam Hutchison SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR: Aykut Ozal
Sandra Hill Cameron Knott Nathan Nankervis Deniz SeferioÄ&#x;lu
AM-UNITY MAG - EDITION 7
To share your story or artwork in a future edition of AM-Unity, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
AM-UNITY MAG - EDITION 7
Cameron Knott Project description - The dark side of the immigration debate - A series of 3D typographic posters designed to contain water. ‘Drowning In The Med’ expresses stories of the crisis currently occurring in the Mediterranean Sea. This poster combines a sunken boat with a typographic collage of these terrifying tragedies. ‘Drowning In Lies’ visualises the negative rhetoric created by the political and media manipulation. This poster combines real media headlines with the mass crowd drowning to show the negative effect this is having in society. ‘Drowning In Discrimination’ is a visualization of the vivid comments and prejudiced opinions surrounding the Mediterranean crisis. Comments were sourced from online news articles Cameron Knott is a recent graduate from Edinburgh Napier University, now working as a junior graphic designer at DesignBridge in London. By combining digital skills with hand crafted finishes, Cameron’s work communicates a simple message through powerful storytelling. See more of his work at www.behance.net/CameronKnott
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CHANGING THE CONVERSATION By Sophie Boustead
Trigger warning: this article contains references to suicide and rape. For decades now, the conversation around asylum seekers and refugees in Australia has been littered with falsities. Pejorative terms such as ‘queue jumpers’ and ‘illegals’ have worked their way into public discourse, distorting public perceptions of the reality faced by people seeking asylum. These words and phrases have become part of the everyday conversation – politicians use them, the media uses them and over time they have become embedded in public thought. As a nation, we repeat these words and use them to justify the imprisonment of asylum seekers in conditions where they suffer physically and emotionally, where children as young as seven are pushed to suicide.
asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia, with little regard for the fact that it is incorrect. Asylum seekers are not doing anything illegal. They have every right to seek asylum. Often, they seek asylum from conflict, poverty or persecution. As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Australian government has a responsibility to protect these people. But instead, it is failing them. Another term used to “stop the boats” is “queue jumpers”. This is another myth. There is no queue, and seeking asylum in a country, via any means of transport, is a legitimate means of being granted refugee status. Politicians have been very strategic in incorporating this expression into their rhetoric. Such terms play upon existing prejudices – everybody hates the person who cuts in front of them in a queue. Most people automatically think of a queue-jumper as a conniving, self-centred person with no respect for others. When tarred with the false “queuejumper” label, people seeking asylum are more likely to be viewed as a public enemy.
Disturbingly, there seems to be a large portion of our nation that accepts these slurs as fact. No matter how many women are forced to seek illegal abortions after being raped in the detention centres that we established, or how many people are driven to horrific ways of taking their own lives, many Australians use these false terms to rationalise the incarceration of innocent people for unspecified lengths of time. Reading the comments on any article about the detention of asylum seekers, there are bound to be several remarks along the lines of “They knew what they were getting into so they deserve it”, and “Coming by boat is cheating, and they are probably economic migrants.”
The “cheater” stereotype is another common slur used by politicians describe asylum seekers; rationalised by a lie that most asylum seekers are economic migrants. This too is false. In 2012-2013, 88% of asylum seekers who arrived by boat were found to be genuine refugees. The remaining percentage were not necessarily economic migrants, but may not have had the evidence to back their claims for asylum.
It’s difficult for me to understand these attitudes. How is one human life less valuable than another? How does seeking asylum make anyone less human?
But many people are unaware of these facts, and continue to spread misinformation about asylum seekers breaking the law and cheating the system by jumping a supposed queue. The word “people” is rarely used when talking about “queue jumpers” and “illegals”, so little compassion is felt for those that have risked their lives to escape
These attitudes are the result of decades of xenophobic policy and language intended to dehumanise and demonise refugees and asylum seekers. Take the word “illegals” for instance; this term has been thrown around by shock jocks and politicians for years to describe
persecution. And when horrific events occur in detention centres, there seems to be little urgency in addressing why the event took place in the first place, or how it may have affected the people involved.
Words are weapons. When coded or framed in a pejorative or negative way, the language used to describe any given issue has the power to sway public perception and opinions of that issue.
This issue has been contentious in Australia since the arrival of Vietnamese migrants in 1977. This influx followed the relaxation of Australia’s asylum seeker policy to accommodate the many displaced people seeking asylum from the Vietnam War. Up until the second half of the 1977 election campaign, Australia had increased funding for resettlement services, including English language courses and orientation assistance. With the influx of boat arrivals, Gough Whitlam insisted that these people should not be put “ahead in the queue” of genuine refugees. And a myth was born.
With that in mind, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre recently conducted a study entitled: Words That Work, to identify problematic terminology that is used to discuss the topic of people seeking asylum in Australia. The research uncovered a range of alternative positive words and terms that may assist in humanising the people at the heart of the debate and persuading Australians to shift their ideas about people seeking asylum.
The Howard era brought about a whole new culture of distrust around asylums seekers. The infamous “Tampa affair” whereby a Norwegian boat of asylum seekers was refused entry into Australian waters just before the 2001 federal election paved the way for a much harsher discourse. Shortly after the Tampa affair and not long after the September 11 attacks on New York, Defence Minister Peter Reith described seeking asylum by boat as a “pipeline for terrorists”. From then on, asylum seekers would not just be treated as cheaters in the public discourse, but as dangerous terrorists. Suffice to say, Howard won that election.
frightening aspect is that we know so little about what goes on in detention centres. By clamping down on media access, the government is able to have almost total control over the public discourse. It’s easy to become apathetic to the plight of asylum seekers when we know so little about how they are treated, but we must continue to campaign for their right to seek asylum, and our own right to know. The first step in doing this is to tell the truth about asylum seekers. Instead of interviewing politicians, journalists need to give more voice to people with lived experience of seeking asylum.
It is interesting that as the world becomes globalised, we are tightening our borders to refugees and asylum seekers. We travel more than ever, and can connect to people in almost any part of the world via the Internet, yet we still fear “the other”. By encouraging this fear, our Government is able to justify harsh and inhumane policies, and secure Australia’s power as a nation state. The most
Most importantly, this country must dispel myths that have circulated for decades, and start seeing asylum seekers as human beings. In the meantime, I am certain that in years to come this dark era of human rights abuses will be viewed with the shame it deserves.
This Glossary outlines some of the Do's and Don’ts that you should be aware of when trying to change the conversation: DO
People seeking asylum
Comply with international human rights law, humanitarian and legal obligations
Treat others the way we want to be treated, do the right thing
Tackle the problem
Create a fair and efficient process, fairly examine each (person’s) case
Fleeing persecution, violence and torture
Seeking safety, rebuilding their lives where it’s safe, looking to set up a safe home
Live in peace, care for children, live free from danger, safety 10
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Deniz Seferioglu ^
Deniz SeferioÄ&#x;lu, Turkish designer, born in Turkey in 1984, She graduated from the Department of Graphic Design of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Marmara University in 2016. She has been continuing her works in graphic design and fashion design. Her poster "The Life of Asylum Seekers" won 1st prize in Mevhibe Ates Graphic Design Student Competition in 2013. www.behance.net/denizseferioglu
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GO-GETTING REFUGEES START OVER WITH STARTUPS Innovative resettlement program ignites entrepreneurial passions. By Carmen Cita that many humanitarian entrants in fact have the capacity to create their own jobs and income streams.
We live in complicated times, where 60 million people – more than twice the population of Australia - are displaced from their homes. For many of those people around the world, that displacement is an unwelcome consequence of armed conflict and persecution. For many, the refugee journey entails unimaginable risk, danger, loss and psychological harm.
So, rather than burdening the economy, refugees can in fact boost the economy when the right support mechanisms are in place. With that knowledge, the Ignite program treats participants as latent human resources, and accelerates their potential.
The decision to leave everything behind, and head into the unknown, is not the kind of decision that one takes lightly. It’s a daunting prospect: abandoning all that you know the familiar faces, the well-worn streets and, of course, the looming perils - in search of a safer life. There are no guarantees for those who flee their homelands; only the humble hope that ‘things’ will get better.
“We formed a collaboration with Dr Ernesto Sirolli from the United States - he trains enterprise facilitators who work with passionate entrepreneurs and help them to start their businesses,” Ms Petrakis says.
“ Dispelling the widely held myth that
According to Dina Petrakis, things do get better when these people are shown some basic support and encouragement - not just better for them personally, but for the broader Australian society and economy. Ms Petrakis is an Enterprise Facilitator with the Ignite initiative; an innovative resettlement program that identifies and fosters entrepreneurial talent in newly arrived humanitarian entrants.
inbound refugees threaten to ‘take Australian jobs’, the evidence suggests that many humanitarian entrants in fact have the capacity to create their own jobs and income streams.”
Before the Ignite program was created, refugee entrepreneurship – though common - was largely untapped in Australia. In 2010-11, ABS statistics showed that migrants who arrived in Australia as refugees were very likely to start their own unincorporated businesses.
She has seen newly arrived refugees from as far afield as Sudan and Afghanistan launch successful businesses within months of joining the program.
Ms Petrakis explains, “Our CEO Violet Roumeliotis has worked in this sector for a long time and she has seen that a lot of the refugees who come to Australia are very entrepreneurial.”
“We work with the passion of the entrepreneur – whether they are chefs, craftspeople, tailors, photographers or artists. We work with their passion and, what they lack in terms of marketing and accounting skills, we find people who can help them with that knowledge gap.” For many newly arrived refugees, life in Australia is a
Dispelling the widely held myth that inbound refugees threaten to ‘take Australian jobs’, the evidence suggests 13
Australia have been subjected to a xenophobic campaign of tacit dehumanisation and demonisation. Since September 11, 2001 our political leaders have systematically sought to conflate the topics of immigration and national security, using the spectre of terrorism to instill fear and loathing in the electorate.
departure from everything that they have ever known: different language, different customs, different food and, for the entrepreneur, different business rules. Unlike the countries that many refugees leave behind, the Australian business environment is extremely regulated. “Here, you need an ABN, you need to register your business name, you need an accountant to do your tax returns, and you need to keep invoices,” Ms Petrakis explains. “We work with accountants who are retired or those who help us for non-commercial rates. They help the business owner with all of those bureaucratic, legislative requirements.”
Political rhetoric has become steeped in prejudice, excruciatingly dumbed down, and sloganised to the point where public discourse often resembles the mindless chanting of football hooligans. Amid the political ruckus, there’s a tendency to overlook the humanity and the potential of these people, seeking asylum on our shores.
In the 2.5 years since the Ignite program was launched, it has helped to establish 46 small businesses and 95 per cent of participants are now financially independent, with no Centrelink assistance. Some of the Ignite startups have expanded to create further employment opportunities within their communities. Evidently proud of the program’s achievements, Ms Petrakis says, “[These people have] got so much hope, so much passion, so much positivity, so much good will – you want to tap into that, to make sure that it’s utilised as they are resettling.” For decades, refugees and people seeking asylum in 14
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In the lead-up to the latest Federal Election, Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton unapologetically branded refugees as innumerate, illiterate people, likely to “languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare” at the expense of Australian taxpayers. But the patent success of the Ignite program contradicts him and the knee-jerk naysayers who – after years of untoward political indoctrination - regard humanitarian entrants as an economic burden that Australia can’t carry. Carry? Who needs carrying? This new generation of refugee entrepreneurs is showing Australia that they have what it takes to survive and thrive.
When Mohammed and his family came to Australia from Iran in 2013, they brought much more than a hard-luck refugee story with them. Judging from his luggage, it may have seemed that Mohammed had packed light. But he brought with him a lifelong love of sweet Persian delicacies that, with some help from Ignite, he has since transformed into a thriving family business in Merrylands, in Sydney’s west. As a child, Mohammed worked in his father’s shop in Iran, selling ice cream and sweets. Otherwise known as bastani, Persian ice cream is laced with saffron, vanilla, rose water, pistachios and sometimes salep. Flakes of frozen clotted cream give the Persian dessert a uniquely chewy texture - it’s a delicious variant of ice cream, as we know it in the West. Since opening last year, business is booming for Mohammed’s startup, Shiraz Ice Cream & Juice. The Merrylands cafe has introduced countless locals to the delights of Persian cuisine and hospitality. Mohammed takes great pride in his product, and revels in sharing the sweet traditions handed down to him by his father.
Meet: DAMON Damon’s photographic journey started more than 20 years ago with his father’s old Konica camera in Iran. Like many aspiring photographers, his early experiments were images of nature, people and his surroundings. It soon became clear to Damon that this interest could be more than a hobby. Before seeking asylum in Australia in 2013, Damon completed an Advanced Diploma in Photography at Jahad University, Karaj and was employed by Zibaloon Advertising Agency, Tehran as a full-time photographer. When Damon arrived in Australia, the Ignite program coordinators recognised in him a deep well of entrepreneurial passion and potential. With guidance from Ignite, Damon has kept his dream alive. His work has been shown in major exhibitions around the country and his thriving freelance business, Damon Amb Photography, has transformed his undying love of photography into a viable way to earn a living.
Meet: SIMA Sima arrived in Australia with her mother and son in 2013. Before fleeing Iran, Sima was a well-known leather worker and trainer who designed and crafted unique leather bags and wallets for several high-end shops. But a raft of faithbased government restrictions limited Sima’s access to employment, business and education opportunities. When she first met with an Ignite Enterprise Facilitator, Sima couldn’t speak English. With help from an interpreter, she explained that she was passionate about her product, making it clear that she was determined to provide for her family by producing leather goods in Australia.
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After two months in Australia, Sima registered and started her own business. Dubbed Bags of Love & Peace, Sima’s business aims to pass on a small piece of handcrafted love and peace with each item sold.
Sean Dove is a Melbourne-based avid Cinema 4D user and lover of all things design. Dove is a designer at the South Yarra creative studio One Fell Swoop. He has a background in both branding and photography. His expertise and exposure helps him understand the importance and impact of bringing an idea to life. Cinema 4D has allowed Sean to create these seemingly tactile renders and, as a result, give a whole new depth to the refugee rights message. Designed by Melbourne-based graphic designer Sean Dove, this piece is part of a series defending those fleeing devastation to seek asylum here in Australia. The piece challenges Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s controversial offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. The distinctly unwelcoming barbed wire typography reflects the way that refugees are currently treated. However, Doveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imagery suggests that people held in detention centres should be welcomed on Australian soil. Website: www.seandove.com.au Instagram: @seantysondove
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CHASING ASYLUM An interview with Academy-Award winning filmmaker Eva Orner, a woman who simply won't settle for government secrecy By Carmen Cita
Sometimes, it’s easier to ignore a problem when the symptoms or side effects of that problem aren’t getting up your nose or bashing at your front door. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. Sometimes, you need to see, smell, hear and taste the problem, firsthand, before you feel compelled to rectify the problem, or take action. That’s why Academy Award-winning filmmaker Eva Orner decided to make her latest documentary Chasing Asylum, an astonishing film that was as hard-to-make as it is hard-to-watch. As the 9th annual Human Rights Arts and Film Festival illuminated Australian cinema screens last month, holding up a mirror to the uneasy truths of our times, Orner’s daring new documentary made especially big waves. Chasing Asylum contains secret footage of Australia’s controversial offshore detention centres. The film examines the extraordinary tactics that consecutive Australian Governments have used to deter people from seeking asylum in Australia, and the attendant policies of secrecy that have undermined any kind of media scrutiny. As it wilfully breaches that fortress of bureaucratic secrecy, Orner’s raw and distressing documentary exposes the substantial human toll of Australia’s offshore detention practices, including selfharm, mental illness, sexual assault, self-immolation and death. Offshore detention has been the subject of heated debate in Australia for more than a decade. Frustrated
by inaccurate and divisive political rhetoric around the topic, Orner felt compelled to get beneath the political posturing and reveal the ugly truth about Australia’s inhumane and unlawful response to the world’s escalating refugee crisis. Even with her reputation for making challenging films, this documentary has been Orner’s toughest project yet. “When I started this film at the beginning of 2014, I had been waiting for somebody to make this film and I couldn’t understand why nobody had taken it on,” she said. “Now, in 2016, I totally understand. It was basically a completely impossible film to make – but we somehow managed to pull it off.” “In a twenty-year career, it’s the hardest film I’ve done by a mile,” she added. ”Because it’s about places that you cannot go to, about people you cannot talk to, and if you find people
“ The nature of secret footage is that it has to remain secret. However, the bigger issue here is that we are a democracy, and we have had a policy, on and off for fifteen years, that prevents us from knowing exactly what our policies are. ” who work there who are willing to tell you what’s actually going on, they now face criminal charges.” In 2015, while Orner was making Chasing Asylum, the Borderforce 19
Protection Act came into effect. “It contains a particularly odious clause known as the Whistle-blowing Clause,” she explained. “Which makes it a criminal offense for anyone who works at the camps to speak out – so whistle-blowers now face a two-year jail penalty.“ “I think that goes hand-in-hand with this appalling policy of secrecy,” she continued. “As tax-paying citizens, we need to stand up and scream and shout and say this is unacceptable. More than one billion dollars of taxpayers’ money is spent on offshore detention each year and yet we don’t know exactly what it is, we can’t see it, no journalists are allowed – how can that happen in a democracy? How are people not standing up and screaming about the lack of transparency?” Australia spends $1.2 billion per year running the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, an average cost of $500,000 per asylum seeker per year. Orner politely declined to reveal how she obtained the secret footage of Australia’s heavily guarded offshore detention centres. “I can’t tell you how we did it. Of course I didn’t go to Nauru or Manus - because no filmmakers, cameras, or journalists are allowed to go there.” “To apply for a visa to Nauru is the most expensive visa in the world - it costs $8000 and the only people who are allowed in are Government employees who work at the camps,” she explained. “I’m
Marr says in the film: It’s the world’s apology to the Jewish people for World War II. Australia was one of the early signatories – we couldn’t get in fast enough to sign it in the 50s. And we 100 per cent do not adhere to it now.” Clearly astounded by the absence of compassion that now characterises Australia’s attitude towards people seeking asylum on our shores, Orner says, “All of this started in 2001 when a group of Afghan Hazaras came to Australia by boat and John Howard wouldn’t let them in - they ended up on Nauru and shortly after Manus was opened.”
places, until you see them for yourself, you don’t fully understand how bad the situation could really be. I wanted to show that as well. And I think we have - I think that’s what’s shocking people.” Orner hopes that Chasing Asylum will counteract the divisive misinformation that has swayed public opinion and start to fill in some of the gaps in awareness that Australia’s secretive policies have caused. “There’s a lot of fatigue and people are exhausted by this [issue] - because it has been going on for a long time.
“ To me, the Refugee Convention has always been incredibly important because it comes out of the Holocaust ”
a frugal documentarian so I wasn’t going to waste $8000. You can go to Manus - but if you get anywhere near the perimeter of the camp, chances are that you’ll get beaten up and have your camera smashed.” The nature of secret footage is that it has to remain secret. However, the bigger issue here is that we are a democracy, and we have had a policy, on and off for fifteen years, that prevents us from knowing exactly what our policies are.
“I felt like people weren’t compassionate enough, they weren’t engaging with this issue. No matter how much is written about these
But the only way we can change this, because our two major parties have the same policy, is if we all stand up. And the only way we can all stand up is if we all know about it.” “It’s a particularly difficult time in the world,” she concedes. “I’m not being ‘Pollyanna’ about this – there are 60 million displaced people in the world, the most since the end of World War II. It’s not an easy solution. However, we’re not doing enough. We need to be doing more. We need to up our refugee intake. No one’s saying let everybody in. We can’t solve the world’s refugee crisis - but we can certainly do better.”
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The injustice of Australia’s offshore detention policies strikes a particularly personal chord with Orner. “My parents were born in 1937 in Poland, Jewish, so they were babies of the war,” she explains. “Three of my four grandparents died in the Holocaust and out of two really big families, less than a handful survived. My parents came here in the 50s as immigrants, and I had this lovely, middleclass Australian upbringing - living in a democracy; free, great education; and aware that bad things happen to good people, growing up in the shadow of genocide.”
As an Australian living abroad in America, Orner watched on in horror as Australia’s already harsh policy stance towards people seeking asylum become even more callous. “In 2013 when Abbott was elected and the boat tow-backs started, the rhetoric started getting worse,” she said. “People didn’t seem to understand what was happening. There seemed to be a lot of confusion and I thought that maybe I could create a documentary that would hopefully be seen widely and give people a clearer understanding of what’s happening.”
“To me, the Refugee Convention has always been incredibly important because it comes out of the Holocaust,” she continues. “As David 20
dinalie Dabarera &Liz Broekhuyse Conceived by Dinalie Dabarera and Liz Broekhuyse, Suburban Refuge was a public art installation featured in the 2011 Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Melbourne, Australia. The project was intended to encourage support for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia, by fostering awareness of the challenges that they face. 96 small wooden boats were placed in and around Sydney suburbs, each boat containing the individual story of a person who had found refuge in our community.
Each person who found and kept one of the boats was invited to take a photo of the place they had found for the boat, and share this photo on the Suburban Refuge blog suburbanrefuge.wordpress.com, along with their thoughts and feelings about the issue.
Suburban Refuge encouraged Sydneysiders to pick up these ‘asylum
seeker’ boats and make a place for one within their own home. The intention behind this symbolic act was to mirror our capacity, as Australians, to invite asylum seekers into our country and into our homes, taking joy instead of insult from the peaceful settlement of these displaced people into our communities.
Dinalie Dabarera is an illustrator and graphic designer. The children’s book she illustrated, The Cat With the Coloured Tail, written by Gillian Mears, was published by Walker Books in 2015 and has been nominated for multiple awards. She is a nominee for the Children’s Book Council of Australia's Crichton Award for New Illustrators. See what she's been up to lately on her website www.dinalie.com. Liz Broekhuyse is a cheerful Aussie currently working in Silicon Valley, California. As a freelance designer with her company Theysaurus she helps startups build digital products, and communicate their vision to the world.
AM-UNITY MAG - EDITION 7
ASYH ALLAH By Hannah Clarke My son,
I take one of the little dough balls and smooth it flat. The dance begins. Gently at first, I pass the dough between my hands. It becomes warm and starts to expand outwards. The relaying motion forces it to grow and change before my eyes. My touch remains soft and coaxing, yet persistent.
When I bake the bread, I first sift the flour like this, see? As my parents did and their parents did before them. Our ancestors harvested the wheat from the base of the Harasta hills, where the water runs clear and reflects a thousand suns. It carves life into the dry, hot earth. I pick up the flour between my hands and I feel God. Aysh Allah. You must learn how to make saj and I will teach you.
Do you remember the time we sat by the river? Your mothers’ eyes were the colour of Topaz, like the water. I watched you skim stones, getting your trousers wet. She scolded you and I laughed at her anger. You have her eyes.
The further away from Syria we travelled, the worse the bread became. So we make our own. Your brother and sister learn new words every day – words that I do not understand. Where are you now son? Do you still eat the bread made in the souq, drizzled with honey? If you were here now, I would Her bones have returned to the make sure you knew to add soil where the wheat grows. And the right amount of water.
yours will too. But not yet.
You make it as I do now. I add the yeast and salt I am not from Syria. I am Syria. to the flour, then dissolve And so are you. sugar in hot water. It will make the bread sweet. Poured water meets flour and Allah provides. Soft dough Beer bottles and plastic wrappers were cleared before starts to form. Gently son, gently. Slowly dribble the water we made the fire, our breaths rising in the icy night. The and when it is enough you will know. You will feel in your neighbours do not like our fires. Tomorrow, I will offer them fingers the right resistance. Allah will guide your touch. saj. Everyone would love saj if they knew its flavour. But they are angry. We are angry. Do not underestimate the Why did you leave us? You are a man now but I am your power of humble food, Ammar. father. Come back to me. I know what is happening back home. Gun shells litter the streets and our homes are The smoke rises from the fire and is carried by the wind, the graveyards of life before. up into the sky and I imagine that it travels across the sea, to you my son. I look up at the stars. Can you smell I pour oil over the dough and over my hands, cradling my the saj, Ammar? I close my eyes and we are watching the creation. When I created you, I held you for hours, Ammar, smoke tendrils rise into Syrian skies. I will find you, we will my eldest son. And now the dough is smooth and coated. return home and we will make bread together, inshallah. In the night I dream of you, pulled to the depths of a I take it off the heat and let it cool. We taste it. The bottomless ocean where the light can’t reach you. I never faces of your brother and sister don’t lie. Your mother taught you how to swim. made it better. I knead the dough hard. My hands ache and I feel calmer. Her bones have returned to the soil where the wheat The rhythm of pushing and pulling propels me forward. I grows. And yours will too. But not yet. I am not from Syria. can’t stop moving or I might stop forever. I am Syria. And so are you. Either way, you will find me or you will find God. He will Aysh Allah. Alhamdulillah. protect you and so will I. Don’t stop. You mustn’t stop, You are not dead and neither am I. not until the dough is smooth and silky. Your arms will hurt We go on. but sometimes pain is good. It reminds us we are still living and breathing.
Pick up the pace. The movement of my hands follows a steady beat. Back and forth they sway, the dough embraced in each palm, absorbing the impact with each swing. My hands know what to do so I close my eyes and let instinct take over. The dough is ready to transform, Ammar. Look, it is thin and delicate, ready for the fire.
Bread connects Syrian people to their religion and culture; Syrians think that bread – literally translated as 'life itself' - brings them closer to God. They eat it with every meal and, if they drop any bread on the floor, they pick it up to kiss it and offer an apology to Allah.
»» An estimated 220,000 people have been killed and 12.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria. »» More than 50 per cent of Syria’s population is currently displaced. »» More than 4.5 million refugees from Syria (95 per cent) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. »» At least 450,000 people in the five main host countries - or 10 per cent - are in need of resettlement according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
In Damascus, the Government has hijacked agriculture because it fragments communities. They are limiting the supply of bread to the people, to weed them out. It is a strategy intended to degrade, humiliate and deny basic human rights and cultural identity.
The Harasta foothills is where wheat is grown, to make the bread. The region supplies all bread to Damascus. People have risked their lives trying to get access to bread. It's an essential source of protein in their diet.
Source: Amnesty: Syrian Refugee Crisis in Numbers
* Aysh Allah – Life itself * Alhamdulillah – Praise be to God * Souq – Syrian open market * Inshallah – God willing
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Ammar's father was separated from his son when the family fled Syria on foot, eventually seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. Since Ammar's father left his homeland, thousands of lives have been lost in armed conflict and more than half of the Syrian population have become displaced in their search for safety.
Christian Ghafary After completing his BA in Business Marketing and Administration at the Lebanese University, Lebanonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sole public institution for higher learning, Christian Ghafary embarked on a freelance career in photography. The 30 year-old honed his skills with a series of workshops and practical assignments, and he has gone on to work with a range of national and international organisations, including UNRWA, World Vision Lebanon, World Vision International, Teach for Lebanon and Save the Children. Captured by Lebanese photographer Christian Ghafary, these photos of Syrian refugees are from a field
assignment in Lebanon at an Informal Tented Settelment (ITS), during his work as a communications generalist with World Vision Lebanon. The photo of the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feet shows the harsh reality of how refugees experience the onset of winter. The smiling man and woman in the facing image have just received unconditional cash assistance from aid initiative Lebanon Cash Consortium
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Meet Monga Khan Australia's Forgotten Folk Hero An interview with Adelaide street artist Peter Drew, the man who’s daring Australians to rethink what it means to be an Aussie. By Carmen Cita All around Australia, pedestrians and passersby have been wondering: Who is this mysterious man in the red turban?
and wide with a national poster campaign. Drew took the idea to crowd-funding platform Pozible and people loved the premise – so much so that 435 supporters got behind him, pledging over $19,000 (more than double his campaign target).
In recent months, a series of striking portraits have appeared on inner city walls. Branded with the word AUSSIE, the posters can be seen on more than a thousand walls and facades around Australia, from Sydney to Darwin and Hobart to Perth. The intriguing series comprises seven portraits in total, but the central muse of the project is the dashing Monga Khan. He was one of thousands of Australian immigrants - hawkers, cameleers and traders - who were granted exemptions to the White Australia Policy in the late 19th Century because their work was considered essential to Australia's growing economy.
Calling for a more expansive and inclusive definition of national identity, Drew’s posters pose the question: What is a real AUSSIE?
“ What is a real AUSSIE? ”
Street artist Peter Drew discovered Khan’s photograph in the Australian National Archive, and decided that contemporary Australians should know about this largely unknown or forgotten chapter of our history. He made up his mind to spread Khan’s image and story far 28
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“I picked Monga because his photograph looked heroic; but also because, as far as we can tell, he was just an ordinary guy. I could have quite easily picked a historic figure who was a hero, or who was famous at least,” Drew said. “But the point was to pick somebody who was ordinary; and therefore could become a symbol for all the other ordinary, forgotten people from that time in history. And also, I picked him because he was a Muslim male, and Muslim men have a sort of undue level of fear directed at them in contemporary Australia. So I thought that would be a good choice as the hero of the project.”
Drew hopes to transform Monga Khan into an Aussie folk hero of sorts. He explains, “If you think about what an Aussie folk hero is, they always have a disdain for authority, and so I thought it would be terrific if we had an Aussie folk hero whose disdain for authority was directed at the White Australia Policy.”
“Uncommissioned art, or Illegal street art, basically puts the freedom of expression above the sanctity of private property. There’s an underlying statement there – and I think that’s something that people are attracted to. And obviously, because it’s out in a public space, it reaches everybody - everybody that uses public space. And there’s something democratic about that."
This is not Drew’s first experiment with political street art. Last year he made waves with another poster campaign, pasting the eye-catching slogan REAL AUSTRALIANS SAY WELCOME on hundreds of walls around the country. “I typically dislike a lot of political art because it tends to be sort of self-righteous and instructive,” Drew said. “But I thought that if I approached political art with a sense of irony it could be something that I’d enjoy.”
While politicians frequently use slogans to dumb-down public debate and instil fear, Drew turns that divisive tactic on its head with his own subversive brand of irony. “Some people manage to miss it, but the phrase: REAL AUSTRALIANS SAY WELCOME is entirely ironic,” he explains. “There’s no such thing as a ‘Real Australian’. If you think about what nationalism is, a phrase like 29
well to facts.” “They might have a bit of fear but I think that we have to have patience and sympathy for those people who have fear, because those people have often been misled and manipulated. We should have some patience, and give them time. There’s a large section of the community in the middle who are not racist, who aren’t ignorant, who are just feeling the natural effects of fear. I’ve got plenty of time to talk to those people.” As he travels the country, transposing Monga Khan’s memory into a symbol for all those who survived the White Australia Policy, Drew urges Australians to reimagine what it means to be 'Aussie.' Beyond the poster campaign, Drew is determined to write Monga back into Australia’s history and conscience. “We’re in the process of putting together a book of short “While politicians frequently use slogans to stories and poems, all Though its origins dumb-down public debate and instil fear, Drew written by mostly young can be traced back to Australian writers,” he the 19th Century, the turns that divisive tactic on its head with his says. “A lot of them have term “un-Australian” ” own subversive brand of irony. knowledge of the Bedouin was popularised experience, so it will during the 1990s relate to contemporary Australia a lot as well.” by Prime Minister John Howard and One Nation Party founder Pauline Hanson. It has since been used as a pejorative term by a succession of politicians and media shock jocks, to censure any beliefs, behaviours or activities that stray from conventional Australian cultural norms. ‘Real Australians Say Welcome’ makes no sense. Nationalism is all about establishing an ‘in’ group and an ‘out’ group, and if that ‘in’ group is defined by the fact that it says welcome to the ‘out’ group, then it’s fundamentally contradicted itself. So [my slogans are] a deliberate, hopefully obvious reform of nationalism.”
Drew is wary of politicians who use this kind of language to exploit the base fears of the electorate. He sees public art as a panacea for political fear mongering. He adds, “One of the best things that art can do is bring people close together and dispel fear. I see that as part of my role as an artist. I think that fear is a very natural part of life. One thing that I want to demonstrate with my art is that, ultimately, that fear compromises our values. It makes us weaker, if we let politicians exploit us in that way. So I try to demonstrate, through my art, the connections between people from diverse backgrounds.”
Drew typically installs his posters in daylight, wearing a hi-vis vest - not quite the archetypal midnight-graffitininja. “When I’m on the street and someone asks me what the posters are about, and I can see that there’s a mild suspicion – those are the people that I really enjoy talking to; because they are reasonable, they respond
Images supplied by Peter Drew www.peterdrewarts.com. 30
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Drew hopes that his paste-ups will pique the curiousity of the people who happen upon them. “The most important thing is that they’re curious, and that they want to find out more, and that they might talk to somebody else about it,” he explains. “That’s how it spreads.”
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A Musical Look into Life in an Outback Prison By Xavier Warne ‘Anyone can end up in a place like this.’
Each of the roughly 37,000 full-time adult prisoners in Australia is an individual human being, each with their own unique background, hopes, and stories. This fact may seem obvious, but it is one that is all too often ignored. The role of incarceration in Australian society is difficult to grasp fully, given that these stories are, in most cases, never heard in any great detail, if not merely ignored.
In a prison where 80 per cent of inmates identify as Indigenous, mixed-race Max and Dale offer an insight into the struggle of being caught in the tug of war between their black and white identities.
In a hip hop song penned by themselves, the boys explain how their alienation or separation from their Indigenous Prison Songs, a documentary musical by Kelrick Martin, heritage together with their feelings of disconnect with seeks to rectify this dilemma through an hour of intimate mainstream white society have left them feeling displaced. interviews and musical performances with the inmates Fifty-one year old Wurdankardi laments being punished by at Berrimah Prison in the Northern Territory, Australia. a system that has been imposed The film charts a poignant on his people and, in his eyes, course through a series does not represent them. of personal stories told by In a prison where 80 per cent of the inmates of Berrimah inmates identify as Indigenous, There is a heavy weight to the prison. These raw and brief text inserts that inform touching narrations are mixed-race Max and Dale offer an us that 76 per cent of the interspersed with musical insight into the struggle of being inmates committed their crimes numbers written in under the influence of drugs collaboration between the caught in the tug of war between or alcohol, or that 90 per cent film crew and the inmates their black and white identities. have experienced or committed themselves. What results is domestic violence. However, it a rare, prolonged look into is the stories that accompany these statistics that give the the largely unheard stories behind the people too often film its raw emotional impact. In a brilliant act of dry wit, we presented as mere statistics. are introduced to Malcolm, a young man of 20 who was arrested whilst intoxicated, yet proceeds to dedicate a love ‘How the f*cking hell did I end up here,’ is the penultimate song to the number one lady in his life: alcohol. The sight cry of the film’s opening musical number as we are of a young man, as well as a cast of fellow prisoners cum introduced to Max, the privileged young son of a lawyer. In back-up dancers, singing a love song to a substance that the film’s first interview, he tells of how a rocky relationship likely played a significant role in their being in prison, is at with drugs and aggressive tendencies landed him in jail once heartbreaking and hilarious, in short, utterly human. when he attempted a robbery to pay off his drug debts. As A song dedicated to the inmates’ parents and the he recalls the normalcy of his life before drugs and prison, intergenerational reproduction of domestic violence and how his actions hurt those closest to him, he admits,
strikes perhaps the film’s greatest emotional chord with the tragic line, ‘this is what you learn, from your mum and dad.’ This song, taken alongside the stories of the prisoners, perhaps most clearly illustrates the often cyclical relationship between substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, and incarceration that many find themselves in all too often. The film ends on a bittersweet note, as the characters we have come to know over the course of the film speak of the future. The characters speak with sombre and articulate reflection, whether it be
Wurdankardi’s promise to return to his tribe, and let them know ‘there’s no life in prison’, or Dale’s resolution to make the most of his release, to go straight and raise a family. It is, he admits, most likely his ‘last chance’. Over the course of the film, statistics become human beings, and that is the film’s greatest achievement.
The film doesn’t assume to be able to answer these questions. But in raising them, it takes a step in the right direction.
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Kelrick Martin has stressed the film is in no way an attempt to sugar coat the prisoners to whom we are introduced. The prisoners are, at the end of the day, still convicted felons. However, by the end of the film they have become more than that. We are led to see them as the wives, sons, mothers and brothers that they truly are. We are led to see them as human beings. And ultimately this raises the question of the fundamental purpose of incarceration. Are these people in prison to be punished, or rehabilitated? If both, how can we balance the two?
Sandra Hill Multi-award winning Nyoongar artist Sandra Hill was born in South Perth in 1951. Hill’s multi-media art spans several disciplines, including painting, installation, sculpture, printmaking & mixed media collage. Her work is represented in the collections of art galleries throughout Australia and around the world. In 1958, Hill and her siblings were forcibly removed from their mother’s care, and placed into foster care under Australia’s controversial Assimilation Policy. This policy of absorbing Aboriginal people into white Australian society devastated Indigenous families around the country, creating what is now known as the Stolen Generation. Hill was finally reunited with her biological parents at the age of 34.
people’s stories, she hopes to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. After a career spanning more than 25 years, Hill continues to produce her own studio-based work and exhibits regularly, to critical acclaim. Her art has been recognised and supported by the Australia Council for the Arts and the WA Department for Culture and the Arts. At the 2015 WA Indigenous Art Awards, she was awarded the coveted People’s Choice Award View some of Sandra's work at: mossensongalleries.com.au/artist/ sandra-hill/
Hill uses visual arts as a vehicle to explore and express her identity as a member of the Stolen Generation. Her work contemplates the loss of her family, community and identity, both at a personal and cultural level. As a survivor of Australia’s Assimilation Policy, Hill feels a strong sense of duty to preserve kinship ties, culture and familial links to country. Hill’s art also looks beyond her personal experiences to touch on broader themes, such as the genocidal intent of various government policies and legislation, and the deep sense of alienation that many Aboriginal people continue to experience in contemporary Australia. Through her art, Hill hopes to articulate the collective experience of the Nyoongar people and engage the wider community. By sharing her 35
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The Coronial Inquest into Ms Dhu’s Death in Police Custody
By Roxanne Hislop
Is Australia’s Media and Criminal Justice System Broken?
A Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) was established twenty-five years ago to investigate claims that Aboriginal people were dying under suspicious circumstances in policy custody. Despite the commission providing over three hundred recommendations to ameliorate the criminal justice system and reduce the rate of Aboriginal incarcerations, the government has fundamentally failed.
It is suggested that the meagre duty of care towards Ms Dhu was engendered by the fact she was an Aboriginal woman, was in police custody, had a history of drug abuse, as well as being a victim of domestic abuse. As such, these cumulative factors and racial stereotypes are believed to have impaired an adequate assessment of her health. Initially, Ms Dhu’s family requested that the CCTV footage not be released; however they are now demanding that the Australian public witness first hand the cruel and brutal treatment that Ms Dhu was subjected to. They call for justice, with the hope that her death will not be in vein and with a resolve to expose the relentless discrimination that confronts the Aboriginal community. “They’d know what we’ve got to put up with all our life,” Ms Roe said. “They invaded us and now we’ve got to get murdered for it, slaughtered for it, slaughtered like dogs.”
A coronial inquest into the death of a 22 year old Yamatji woman, Ms Dhu has exposed the persistent culture of negligent, ruthless and inhumane treatment that Australia’s Aboriginal community continues to endure in police custody to this day. Indigenous Australians are still commonly subjected to racial vilification, based on assumptions of negative racial stereotypes and inequalities, which are unconsciously perpetuated by the mainstream media’s apathy in reporting on Indigenous issues.
The inexplicable treatment Ms Dhu experienced in the 45 hours she spent in police custody posits a profound
The general media silence around Indigenous news stories and issues raises pertinent questions about the mainstream media agenda. Negligible media coverage of the coronial enquiry into Ms Dhu’s death suggests an indifference to the young woman’s tragic and avoidable death.
“ The general media silence around
Indigenous news stories and issues raises pertinent questions about the mainstream media agenda. Negligible media coverage of the coronial enquiry into Ms Dhu’s death suggests an indifference to the young woman’s tragic and avoidable death. ”
If you don’t watch NITV or read New Matilda or the National Indigenous Times, this might be the first time you’re hearing the name Ms Dhu. In August 2014, Ms Dhu was incarcerated for having accrued over $3,500 worth of unpaid fines. Yet, for such a minor offence, she was mocked and accused of exaggerating her symptoms as she fell gravely ill in policy custody. In the 45 hours of her imprisonment, Ms Dhu was doubled over in excruciating pain. The autopsy revealed that the causes of death were infectious pneumonia and septicaemia, which were related to a rib injury she had sustained in a previous domestic violence incident.
challenge to the Australian values of being a humane, compassionate and fair society. How is it that the tragic death of Ms Dhu has not incited a national outcry, demanding the Government act on the promises of ‘fair and just treatment’ made 25 years ago? Instead, this shocking story has remained largely absent from the mainstream media.
The coronial inquest proceedings opened with confronting CCTV footage of Ms Dhu being “dragged around like a dead kangaroo,” as described by family member Carol Roe. As Ms Dhu was too ill to stand up, and moaning in excruciating pain, she was dragged from her cell, slung into the back of a police van where she is heard to be told to “shut up” by one of the police officers on duty. Ms Dhu’s case also exposes the institutional racism that is systemic in the medical profession, particularly in rural areas. Ms Dhu had visited the South Headland medical clinic on two occasions prior to the third and final time, only to be assessed as being physically healthy enough to be in police custody. However, during the inquest, an emergency department specialist conceded that a culmination of negative racial stereotypes and inequalities resulted in an apathetic attitude by the medical staff in adequately assessing Ms Dhu’s medical condition. 38
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The media has the capacity to awaken the nation’s conscience in acknowledging the systemic racial violence that continues unabated. Despite the reasons for not releasing this footage, veiled in concern for the long-term welfare of the family, are we unconsciously suppressing the rights of the Aboriginal community? This footage has the potency to inflame public outrage and put deeply entrenched institutional racism under the microscope. The fact that Ms Dhu’s death has attracted limited media coverage, demonstrates the tendency for the mainstream media to marginalise Indigenous issues. As a result, nonIndigenous Australia remains ignorant to the true injustices that many of our Aboriginal communities face on a daily basis. Wider circulation of the CCTV footage might bring us one step closer to justice and inevitably expose the fundamental truth: the truth that despite the proclamations of being a progressive society, we have consistently failed to protect and improve Indigenous lives in policy custody and this will be our national shame.
Nathan Nankervis Nathan Nankervis is a Melbourne-based graphic artist, illustrator and designer. He creates bold, exuberant pieces that aim to make people smile and think. With over-arching themes of fun and optimism, Nathan's energetic nature manifests in his characteristic approach. With a background in communication design, conceptual thinking is at the core of his practice. His works are filled with simple messages, playful palettes, and energetic patterns that inspire curiousity and urge to play. Nathan has worked and continues to work with a broad array of international clients, including Heineken, Red Bull, BONDs and Xero. Nathan Nankervis originally created these artworks for Terra Populi, an Amnesty International exhibition supporting Indigenous land rights. The exhibition’s Latin name translates roughly as ‘Land of the people’, an antidote to the label that early colonial settlers applied to Australia: Terra Nullius, meaning ‘Nobody’s Land’. The first piece is entitled Dream Time and the second is called Original Inhabitants. Website: www.imnathan.com/
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David Goldman The Elcho Project came about when Goldman won a British Airways ticket to anywhere in the world. He had always wanted to visit Australia. In particular, he was interested in Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land. He took an interest in Elcho after meeting a man who had been one of only four policemen working on the Island.
Canadian-born, Brooklyn based artist David Goldman is an old school photographer, who started out sweeping the studio floor and printing in the darkroom. His early professional years were spent in Los Angeles, shooting celebrities and rock stars, such as Anderson Cooper, Robert Forster and Joss Stone. He was the photographer for the famous Blink 182 1999 album “Enema of the State”.
Not knowing much about Elcho, Goldman sought permission to visit. He was granted a one-week stay on the Island. In that time, he spent a few days in the bush getting to know the locals. The women showed him how they collect the leaves from the Pandana tree, boil them, add colour, and then, once dry, weave them into amazing pieces of art.
All this gave him a unique perspective on life, and helped to create his visual aesthetic, both technically and creatively. Goldman honed his craft assisting some of the best photographers in the business, learning how to treat people along the way. He believes that it is a tremendous honour to have the opportunity to photograph others. He strives to make a human connection with the people who trust him to tell their stories. Goldman’s work reflects the issues that are important to him, including human rights, marginalised people, and maternal health.
Goldman learned about how Elcho had become a dry Island, and some of the daily struggles that the Aboriginal people face. He was struck by the parallels between the plight of Australia’s Indigenous people and the predicament facing First Nations peoples in Canada, or Native Americans in the US. He left Elcho deeply concerned by the impact of Western intervention in Indigenous communities.
In his spare time, Goldman rides his Triumph Thruxton motorcycle, plays hockey and cycles - not all at the same time. Website: davidgoldmanphoto.com New Project www.thebirthlottery.com/migrant Instagram: @thedavidgoldmanphoto
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By Elnaz Derakhshandeh In Australia, the statistics that describe the Aboriginal experience are staggering. Compared to their nonIndigenous compatriots, Indigenous Australians face a disproportionate risk of poverty, abuse, health issues, addiction and unemployment. And the challenges of the Australian Aboriginal experience are not entirely unique. Indigenous communities all over the world have spent more than 200 years grappling with the disenfranchisement brought on by colonisation. Despite the cultural havoc wrought by the colonial experiment, many of these communities held on to their close relationship with the arts.
our culture and traditions.”
Brim’s talents and passion are the product of his father’s experience creating Queensland’s first Aboriginal original rock reggae band in the 1980s, watching them perform and tie their culture into their music was his inspiration and healing process. “To me, music is about bringing people together, it’s our modern day ceremony. I’ve been writing my own songs since high school, and its the Music and art have played a strong role best way I can express myself - seeing people in Aboriginal history and story telling; enjoy your music and connection to music and art has helped to connect with your lyrics is preserve Indigenous history, heal wounds, a powerful thing.”
Music and art have played a strong role in Aboriginal history and story telling; connection to music and art has helped to preserve and create an alternative p ath to success Indigenous history, heal wounds, and create The band strives to keep for younger generations. an alternative path to the culture alive through success for younger their art, both onstage generations. For people like Aden Brim, the lead singer and online. A strong sense of community and cultural pride and songwriter from Zennith, an Aboriginal hip hop reggae is spelled out clearly on their Facebook page, “Music is the group from North Queensland, the arts provide not only a international language, it’s how we express how we are career, but a form of healing for him and for his community. feeling and make our voices heard. We sing songs about the struggle of our people, our culture, and what we see “The more we share and learn off each other, the better,” in the world today. Keep your connection strong, ask your says Brim. “There are too many stereotypes surrounding elders and learn your dreamtime stories, your language Indigenous Australians, and the more people are willing to and traditions. It’s so important to keep our culture alive learn and experience, the more they see the truth about and pass on our knowledge to the next generation.”
The Aboriginal Hip Hop Reggae Band Looking to Heal and Unite Communities. having all Australian children learn about the traditions from the land on which they live.” While struggle continues to grip many Aboriginal communities, Brim advocates the arts as a strong step forward to not only alleviate some issues but also to unite Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. “Here we have Laura Dance Festival, every 2 years, which showcases all the local communities coming together and sharing their dances. We should have more festivals such as Laura all over Australia, each community being able to share their culture with their neighbours and guests. The more people experience our culture, the more they respect it.”
But Brim’s efforts to keep the culture alive and to succeed do not go unchallenged. It was not until he began touring with his group that they all realised the full extent of the issues facing Australia’s Indigenous communities and the effect on the youth. “When we were travelling up through the Northern Territory, it was cheaper to buy Coke then it was to buy water and then they wonder why Aboriginal children are growing up to have health issues. There shouldn't be double standards; they should have access to cheaper fresh food. Fruit and vegetables could be grown by and for each community, creating not only jobs but helping keep the traditions of living off the land strong.”
Brim reckons that it comes down to the small forms of compassion that will make significant changes. “The more people are willing to learn and experience, the less ignorance and racism. Simple things like recognising the traditional owners of each area on the signs and maps, to the traditional owners being able to look after their land and sacred sites. It’s about being able to keep our connection to the land strong.”
The dilemma of scarce resources at sky-high prices has impacted Aboriginal communities for decades and it has only gotten worse. For instance, in the 1960s Indigenous children had better dental health than non-Indigenous children. Now, they have double the rate of dental disease compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.
Undefeated by the challenges facing Australia’s Aboriginal communities, Brim is determined to use his music to unite all people, heal himself and keep traditions alive.
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Brim however feels that these statistics could change if Indigenous Australians had the right to look after their land and keep connections to Aboriginal history strong. “Bring pride in the culture back to the youth, and with pride comes happiness, strength and willingness to better themselves,” he says. “If the children were able to learn about their culture as a part of their schooling, I'm sure the statistics would be different. It would be bridging the gap, by
Alexander Dzivnel is a belarusian watercolor artist and interior designer living in Sydney. Instagram: @dzivnelalexander
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What if I told you that your everyday products could change the world?
A guide to purchasing products that give back.
By Claudia Bailey
Our homes are filled with consumer products which enable us to go about our daily lives. But what if those everyday household products could benefit the lives of others? The good news is that they can.
whilst kids laughed and pigs roamed. I was only doing this for one day, and it was extremely hard. I couldn’t physically comprehend that some people had to walk for up to four hours each day to access their water source.
In February last year, I found myself in Timor-Leste with five friends from around Australia, all of us ambassadors for World Vision. During my stay, I became intrigued by Thankyou, a social enterprise that manufactures water, body care and food products, with the proceeds going towards funding development projects around the globe. One of the girls had brought along a hand sanitiser from the Thankyou brand and, after reading its label, we were all eager to scan the barcode. You see, all Thankyou products have a unique tracking code, which allows consumers to find exactly where in the world their product is helping to fund development projects.
But this project, funded by Thankyou, was building taps in each small community; so that everyone could Now, anytime I buy Thankyou products, easily access clean water. In one I picture the smiling faces of those that community that we visited, an estimated 10,026 people now have access to clean I met in Timor-Leste, and I know that running water, mere footsteps from their When someone buys a bottle of homes.
Together we scanned the hand sanitiser and, as it turns out, the proceeds from the sanitiser were funding a project in Timor-Leste. Little did we know that, a few short days later, we would be visiting this project first-hand. “Here I talked with women who didn’t have easy access to a water supply, and in the middle of the night I squatted over a hole in a frog-infested, open area,
abroad. I personally recommend the cranberry and coconut bars! Since the start of this year, Thankyou has provided 192,367 people throughout fifteen different countries with reliable access to safe drinking water. These products are changing the world and we have a chance to be a part of it - simply by purchasing a bottle of water.
Thankyou water, it gives dignity
Later on in the year, and inclusiveness. I met with Pete Yao, Chief Impact Officer without a doubt - something as simple as at Thankyou, to find out more about Thankyou. I asked, “What is so important a bottle of water or even a hand sanitiser can in fact change someone’s life. about buying Thankyou products?” There are also a lot of great everyday household products that are ethically Simply spoken, but powerfully, he certified and ensure that those working said, “When someone buys a bottle of in all stages of production are being paid Thankyou water, it gives dignity and fair wages. Let’s start with the kitchen. inclusiveness.” Pete explained that water At any supermarket or local store, you is a fundamental human right; and when people who have never had easy access are guaranteed to find ethically certified tea and coffee. This makes the switch to to water, finally do, it changes their life in ethical tea and coffee extremely easy, as every single way. we have so many options and don’t have to give up our favourite flavours. Thankyou has a beautiful range of
hand and body wash, muesli bars and water products, and 100 per cent of the profits go to their development projects
The next time you’re at your local shopping centre, take the time to find
the ethically certified products (it won’t take long) and give them a go. If you’re worried about the cost, you have nothing to be worried about. Just because a product has the label of ‘Fair Trade’ or ‘ethical’, it is not necessarily more expensive. Big brands of tea like Dilmah, which are ethically certified, are among some of the most affordable brands on the market. I’m also a big lover of Oxfam stores, where you can buy Fair Trade spices, such as chilli and cardamom pods, Fair Trade vanilla essence, and delicious Fair Trade chocolate. There’s nothing more delicious than biting into a brownie and knowing that those who sourced the cocoa beans were paid fair wages.
Worldwide, humans just like you and I, are denied access to water supply, toilets and showers, nutritious food and basic health care. It is so simple to help out, and we don’t even have to spare any change. All we have to do is buy the products that we need which will, in turn, support someone in need.
“It is so simple to help out, and we don’t even have to spare any change. All we have to do is buy the products that we need which will, in turn, support someone in need.” to something that we, in the West, often take for granted. So far, Who Gives A Crap has given 120,000 people around the world access to sanitation and toilets. If you believe that every individual in the world, no matter their circumstance, deserves a fair chance, I encourage you to buy these products.
As cliché as this may sound, it must be understood: We have the power to change the world. When we go to the supermarket, we are faced with aisles of choices, which ultimately reflect the kind of world in which we live. As consumers, we have the power to choose ethical products, which can benefit the lives of the most vulnerable - instead of lining a CEO’s wallet. Our purchases have the power to extend a helping hand to people on the other side of the world, and send out a message of support - and that’s exactly what these products do.
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Now that we’ve got the kitchen pantry out of the way, there’s something that happens afterwards in the bathroom that people don’t like to talk about; but today I dare to discuss. One Melbournebased social enterprise, Who Gives A Crap, decided to make toilet paper that funds projects to build toilets in communities overseas. For most of us, toilet paper is an essential. It is something we simply cannot live without. It is so important to our lives that it’s easy for us to forget that not all of the world’s population has access to a toilet. An estimated 2.5 billion people around the world - approximately 40 per cent
of the global population - don't have access to a toilet. Diarrhoea-related diseases are rampant in sub-Saharan Africa, taking the lives of 1,400 children under 5 each day. Stunned by this global sanitation crisis, the Founders of Who Gives A Crap were moved to transform a product as simple as toilet paper into something that gives individuals access
Charity Tap How your Ice Cold Beer can now help change the World. By Elnaz Derakhshandeh What if your pint of beer could help save the world? For many of us, that would be the ultimate super power. Now, thanks to Charity Tap, you can actually help make the world a better place, one pint (or two) at a time.
you can get the charity in there, there are quite a few shoppers interested. I think Melbourne is a great city for Charity Taps.” It was volunteering, years ago, which triggered Gillies’ passion for charitable work. While he studies medicine at University, he finds philanthropy calling his name.
Charity Tap is a crafty new Melbourne-based social enterprise that provides bars with easy to install taps, the bar then raises the price of their ‘Charity-Tapped’ beer anywhere from ten cents to one dollar, and the proceeds go directly to the various charities that Charity Tap helps fund.
“Unfortunately, medicine has taken a back seat,” he said. “I’m being pulled in another direction and that’s probably the way life will continue to go. I will fuse business enterprise and medicine in some way and I may not be developing one skill set but I’m developing so many others through social enterprise.”
Charity Tap was co-founded by Marcus Crook and Robbie Gillies, a serial good Samaritan who also co-founded HoMie, a non-profit store in Melbourne Central that helps provide clothing for those affected by homelessness and, perhaps more importantly, provides them with skills and experience through employment in the store.
It looks like he has already done so through HoMie and Charity Tap - both ideas help to satisfy consumer indulgences and provide a great opportunity to directly help those who are less fortunate.
It was the success of HoMie that sparked the idea of Charity Tap. “We noticed how great social enterprise is in creating revenue streams for charity,” Gillies explained. “So we created Charity Tap so that any bar in Australia can raise money through a tap that already exists.”
“I realised charity work doesn’t have to be heavy or depressing; it can be positive, and so rewarding, and so exciting.” Gillies’ positive attitude is the key to his success, and he sees only a bright future ahead, “I’m optimistic, I see the way social enterprise is going in Melbourne and there is a bright future. If we can combine for profit and nonprofit business models, it would be a really good way to tackle some of the complex social issues that are affecting our society.”
Charity Tap started less than a year ago and so far there have been no drawbacks. The concept has been embraced by local bars and Mr Gillies seems to be heading towards major success.
“We have 14 bars on board,” he said. “None have reported complaints, just lots of positive feedback. It’s an easy and great idea, both staff and customers feel good [about it].”
After the success of HoMie, creating Charity Tap was a no brainer for him and a win-win for everyone involved. The charities get nearly effortless donations (because who doesn’t love a cold beer?); the taps are tax deductable so the bars create more revenue; and the consumers are directly donating to a cause, while enjoying themselves. No hard work, no monthly donations, no door to door sales; just kicking back, relaxing with a pint and casually saving the world. We can certainly cheers to that!
It has been doing so well that Charity Tap hasn’t done any traditional marketing. News of the organisation has mostly travelled by word of mouth and Mr Gillies thinks it’s all thanks to the people of Melbourne. “Melbourne is really receptive to social enterprise and the notion of doing good while consuming everyday items,” he elaborated. “Whether it’s buying a shirt or a beer, if 51
Melbourne initiative makes the world a better place, one pint at a time.
AM-UNITY MAG - EDITION 7
TRAVELLING TO BE By Elnaz Derakhshandeh
If the world is in search of peace, perhaps travel is the key. As the saying goes: Walk a mile in someone’s shoes. If we could all view the world from an alternative perspective, we might have a deeper level of empathy and understanding. When given the opportunity to live another’s lifestyle, we see the challenges that they face; we can better understand their hate, their compassion and their convictions. If the whole world did this, perhaps our search for peace would finally come to an end and harmony would no longer be a theory but rather a thriving reality. If travel, not your ‘10 day, 10 country’ tour groups but authentic, deep-in-trenches travel was accessible to all, it might serve us better than one-sided education; it might serve us better than the politicians who routinely fail us; it might serve us better than our parents who can only know so much; it might serve us better than a media that peddles fear, hate, prejudice and conflict; it might serve us better than religions and ideologies that only seek to protect their own. Travel could teach us the true meaning of compassion, of patience, of kindness; it could give us an unparalleled education and understanding of the world beyond our own backyards. Travel takes us out of our comfort zones, forcing us to communicate beyond language. It helps us to understand our common needs and appreciate our natural environment. If we all had the opportunity to travel, we might be more inclined to save the polluted oceans, to feed the hungry villages, to protect the endangered animals, to preserve the fragile ecosystems, to shelter the people displaced by war.
“ If we could all view the world from an alternative perspective, we might have a deeper level of empathy and understanding.”
Travel could be the solution that we have been searching for in every election, in every research paper, in every protest. If the opportunity to travel was accessible to all, we just might establish an unprecedented level of interconnectedness within humanity. Imagine that.
Some of you may think: But I already went on my gap year. Unfortunately, binge drinking your way through part of a continent doesn’t qualify. To fully understand another, you must be immersed in their daily life, to see their daily struggles. Could travel be a universal healer? Science attests to the benefits of travel.
A nine-year study of men who had high risks for coronary heart disease found that annual vacations reduce the risk of death from any cause. From any cause! That’s pretty astounding. Separate studies have shown that travel increases productivity levels and reduces stress hormones. So walking a mile in someone else’s shoes will not only better the world, it will better you. Your health, your happiness, and your quality of life can all be elevated through travel. By spending time near the fishing villages in Brazil, we can understand the need to keep our waters clean to sustain
“ Travel takes us out of our comfort zones, forcing
us to communicate beyond language. It helps us to understand our common needs and appreciate our natural environment.” these villages. Spending a few weeks on an organic vineyard can show us the magnitude of climate change and how it affects people’s livelihoods. Time spent in Kerala, India can show us ancient methods of medicine and help us appreciate the need for education and resources in remote destinations. Time spent with a remote, Indigenous tribe can challenge our preconceptions and teach us the importance of accurate history and representation.
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Most importantly, travelling and learning about people in other parts of the world can teach us that we are all exactly the same. We are all people who work, who eat, who love, who laugh, who cry, and who do our best to make life work. When you can see shades of yourself in another, you are more inclined to fully appreciate and honour their humanity. Travel gives us the insight and the freedom to expand our consciousness and live with intention, an intention to love and understand despite barriers, despite religion, despite state lines, and despite what we have been previously taught.
How to Consume with a Clear Conscience An interview with Nick Ray, Co-founder of Shop Ethical!
By Sarah Mokrzycki
In our last edition, I explored some of the many ethical issues surrounding the meat industry. Meat is a particularly problematic area of ethical consumerism because it encompasses so many issues: the treatment of animals (factory farming), the treatment and rights of workers, the environmental impact of cattle farming, the misleading nature of product labelling … the list goes on and on.
Nick, what inspired you and Clint Healy to create Shop Ethical? One of the things that inspired us is that there was a need out there. We looked around and saw that similar resources were available in other countries, but there was nothing for Australia. There were lots of single issue resources, but nothing in terms of a ‘one stop shop’ that you can come to as an entry point for many issues; not for mainstream shopping.
My last article sought to highlight these issues and guide readers in the ethical purchasing of meat. Now, I’m taking this a step further with an interview with Nick Ray, co-founder of Shop Ethical!
Could you tell us a little about the Ethical Guide? The Guide really does two key things. There’s obviously a world of different issues connected to our everyday purchases, so the first thing is opening up a window into the world behind the things we buy, and the rather complex supply chains connected to everyday products. Something like a chocolate bar has a whole lot of different stories connected to different parts of the process, whether it be the people who are growing the cocoa beans, or where the sugar has come from, or the treatment of the animals – it’s quite a complex world and we’re
I often discuss Shop Ethical! in my column. Their Ethical Guide is incredibly helpful for all ethically inclined consumers, listing companies and assigning them ratings based on their business ethics. Here, I talk to Nick a bit about Shop Ethical! and ethical meat consumption.
trying to start people thinking about what’s going on behind the scenes as well as what they personally value, and how they can actually enact those values in those purchases. Secondly the Guide focuses on the companies behind the brands. When we started we asked the question, ‘Where do people start?’ in terms of an entry point into this really complex world. One of the things that is often talked about is who is responsible for the processes, and the Guide names the companies behind the brands, and then looks at what they’re doing: are they doing positive things or are they doing things that perhaps have questionable components to them? The Guide makes that information available to people as a first step, and then gives it a bit of a filter so that people can actually apply that information in their everyday purchases.
,, What advice would you give consumers looking to make positive changes to their shopping habits? One of the biggest things is obviously becoming more aware over time and thinking about the things that you care about personally - starting there as a process to becoming more ethical in your purchases. There isn’t one recipe for ethical shopping, just as there’s not one recipe for being an ethical person; you’re really more ethical according to certain things, or less ethical according to certain things, and it’s the same with your shopping. I encourage people each time they shop to go one step further. It’s a difficult process and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed, so keep that in mind and know that it’s a process that takes time.
connectedness with the world and why we’re here, and our relationship with other species is key to that. That whole contrast between commodifying life with the idea that all life is there for us, compared to actually sharing a place with other species that we have an obligation to look after and care for – it’s kind of a big mindset shift, but I encourage people to take on that shift. It’s often not easy to navigate through that. One of the things you can obviously do is to avoid some of the systems that are inhumane or don’t take into account the value of other species. Our industrial factory farming for getting meat is one of those systems. You could cut down your meat consumption or become a vegan or a vegetarian, or perhaps source free range meats and eggs. I think that’s really important. The ethical process is one that leads us on a journey of being more aware and in touch with the world , and as we’re more in touch with the world we actually start to make a difference because we care, so it’s a cyclic kind of journey.
Could you give us a few of your favourite ethically sound companies that you would recommend to consumers? Local Australian companies are what I’m keen to recommend, as opposed to large multinationals. Clothing and sports equipment company Etiko is one company that sets a very high standard. And other companies like Thankyou, Table of Plenty and Honeybee Wrap that have a triple bottom line approach as their core business, rather than just being tacked on, these are the sort of companies that Shop Ethical! tries to promote. Big thanks to Nick for giving AMUNITY his time. You can buy the Shop Ethical! app here for just under $5, and check out their latest pocket print guide here. To find out more about Shop Ethical! visit their website: www.ethical.org.au
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What do you think are the biggest ethical concerns surrounding meat consumption, and what advice would you give to meat eaters looking to make more ethical choices? I encourage people to think just a bit deeper in terms of their
The ethical process is one that leads us on a journey of being more aware and in touch with the world
A BEGINNER ' S GUIDE TO VOLUNTEERING ABROAD Exploring Indonesia, the Ethical Way By Elnaz Derakhshandeh Commonly referred to as ‘voluntourism’, volunteer travel has become a booming industry in recent years, popular among travellers seeking a more authentic, meaningful and altruistic experience abroad. But sadly, in this growing industry (as with many industries), ethical practice is sometimes obscured by the profit motive. While it is rich with culture and history, South East Asia is rife with scams that tourists should be aware of – unfortunately, volunteering is no exception. In Indonesia, there is often a tourist price and a local price, and offering to donate or volunteer can come with an inflated tourist price tag. Orphanage scams are among the most common in the region; locals ask you to donate a bag of rice at seventy dollars or spend a day with children who have been sent by their parents to “play orphans” as a source of income.
If you’re looking to volunteer, we can help you navigate your way through Indonesia without spending a fortune. When navigated with caution, your voluntourist experience can provide long term, sustainable solutions and care to real communities in need. First, two weeks is not enough. It never is. To make real change, a minimum commitment of six weeks is advised. To provide real change, you need to have solid, well-researched plans in place. It’s important to get to know the culture, understand the needs of the community, and then begin to build a solid foundation for your work and efforts. That is just
not something that can be done in under a month, and pouring money into organisations that let you help for just one week encourages the increasingly corrupt practice of voluntourism. Second, find an organisation that pairs you with a project or initiative based on your skills. Do you have unique insights or knowledge that can enrich the community? The objective should be to build on the skills and resources in developing countries, not to take away opportunity from locals. Third, prepare for culture shock. Consider arriving a week ahead of schedule, to experience one of the larger nearby cities and adjust to your surroundings. Rest your head somewhere comfortable to rid yourself of the jet lag and ease yourself into the situation. It’s not uncommon for volunteers to quickly get home sick, turn right around and decide to go home. This is easily preventable with in-depth research on the destination country and a little time to let you adapt. Here is a list of organisations that are trusted and reliable sources, and will protect both your interests and that of the host country. Look for one that suits your skills and your passion; then contact them for more information and find out if this is the right choice for you. NGOabroad – This organisation specialises in pairing people and assignments based on the individual’s experience and skill set, ensuring that both parties get the right benefits. They also help those who want 57
to build a career volunteering and developing abroad. Their prices are more affordable than other services and more personalised. The first step is to take a fifteen-minute questionnaire that provides basic background information and helps them identify a suitable partnership. www.ngoabroad.com Volunteerforever – They are more so a fundraising platform for those looking to volunteer but they offer great resources and recent reviews of organisations. You can view their top programs reviewed by over 100 people, you can speak to other volunteers and create your own profile where you can review organisations that you’ve worked with and allow others to track your experience, all while raising money. www.volunteerforever.com Blue Ventures – This is a marine conservation based program that has won numerous awards for their efforts and volunteer programs. They help rebuild coastal towns that depend on the water and their programs are locally led, providing volunteer opportunities and career possibilities. They have clear annual breakdowns and concise development plans based on the needs of the community and its people. www.blueventures.org Bali Animal Welfare Association – BAWA provides medical care, educational seminars, vaccinations and lots of love to often overlooked and mistreated animals in Bali. www.bawabali.com
Yayasan Widya Sari – This is a local organisation that provides skills to underprivileged children. Many Balinese jobs depend on tourism and this organisation provides children with access to computer and English classes to improve their chances of employment in Bali. This organisation does allow short term stays but we don’t encourage them; children need stability and ongoing support, so popping in and out for a week won’t improve their chances for success. www.volunteerinbali.org Voluntary Service Overseas – VSO is easily one of the biggest and most well known names in the volunteer world. They have 542 local partnerships throughout 25 different countries. They aim to achieve lasting change by providing proper training for professionals in various fields to create sustainability and by listening to local demands. Furthermore, they provide yearly breakdowns and annual reports which are easily accessible via their website. You can also view what they have accomplished over the years. www.vsointernational.org
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Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) – This is a government organisation that is for those who are fully committed, as assignments can range from twelve to eighteen months. Airfare and accommodation is supplied while you are placed somewhere in the developing Indo-Pacific region. www.australianvolunteers.com Still feeling confused? Email ethical travel enthusiast Elnaz at email@example.com for more help. 58
AM-UNITY MAGAZINE Amnesty International Australia Suite 8, 134 Cambridge Street Collingwood VIC 3066 Telephone: +61 3 9412 0700 Fax: 03 9412 0720 www.am-unitymagazine.com
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