Vision in Action

On March 3 over 250 people came together at Federation Square in Melbourne to support and learn about the human rights activism of ordinary people in war and conflict at the event Vision in Action, hosted by the Humanitarian Crisis Hub.

The event included expert panelists from key humanitarian agencies and active diaspora community groups; refugee and migrant performers from West Papua, Eritrea, India, and South Sudan; and first hand self-protection stories from grassroots activists from South Sudan and Chile.

With exhibits that further profiled ways in which diaspora communities in Melbourne promote human rights in their home countries, the event offered a unique insight into the creative responses to war by ordinary people. These initiatives not only included self-protection strategies in response to conflict but also advocacy, lobbying, and community development projects that build on networks and local insight.

Amongst the eight refugee and migrant community groups that shared their initiatives at Vision in Action was The Sudanese Lost Boys Association of Australia. Working in partnership with the Humanitarian Crisis Hub, the association helped 453 Southern Sudanese refugees and migrants from around Australia travel to and from polling centres in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth during January’s South Sudan referendum – the largest voter attendance outside of Africa.

Other community groups that featured at Vision in Action included the Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria, the Australian Society for the Palestinian-Iraqi Refugees Emergency, Care4Congo International, Hope Care for All International, the Latin American Solidarity Network, the Ogaden Community of Victoria, and the Victoria West Papuan Association Incorporated.

Clyde Salumu, project director of Care4Congo said: “It is the refugee and migrant community groups who have the passion, intimate knowledge, and skills to create successful networks between local people in developing countries and not-for-profit organisations in Australia.”

Vision in Action provided an opportunity to recognise and support the extraordinary efforts of Melbourne’s refugee and migrant community groups. It generated conversations amongst community group leaders and representatives and signified inter-sector interest through the involvement of humanitarian agencies including Oxfam Australia,Amnesty International Australia, World Vision Australia, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Attendees included representatives from government bodies such as AusAID, and the office of the Member of Australian Parliament for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, as well as key humanitarian agencies and refugee and migrant support services including Save the Children, the Asylum Seeker’s Resource Centre, PILCH, and representatives from the media and academia. We hope that connections were made between refugee activists and those influencing the international humanitarian sector. Through continued partnership with diaspora community groups, the Humanitarian Crisis Hub looks forward to bringing more of their human rights initiatives to you in the future.

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