International Society for Human Rights – Australia

President’s Report 2019–2020

Dear Members,

The current International and local outlook in Human Rights has continued to deteriorate. While the aftermath of many conflicts Internationally continues to create enormous numbers of refugees Worldwide Australia’s response continues to be very harsh. There have been some moves to reduce numbers particularly on Manus Island and Nauru but there are still people there who have been detained for over six years. For those who entered Australia without the formal processes demanded by our immigration there are long delays in processing their applications. Both these rulings result in large numbers of people fleeing impossible living conditions being unable to have any long-term planning in their lives.

With the enormous number of refugees and displaced people in the World the most desirable solution is to negotiate peace in their countries of origan and allow them to return to their homes and rebuild there lives. Instead we are constantly hearing warlike rhetoric from the World leaders. Australia seems likely to join this scenario.

The countries of Asia Pacific have a number of troublesome situations. The ongoing conflicts in Myanmar especially the plight of the Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh continues to be untenable. The area that they have set up camps is subject to serious flooding in the monsoon season adding to their problems.

Many refugees from conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other parts of the middle East are currently in Indonesia with little hope of resettling anytime soon. Although there has been a decline in people trying to reach Australia by boat there have been reported pushbacks by Australian Navy ships. Reporting of this is suppressed so it is impossible to verify numbers. 2020 has been very eventful with Australia being ravaged by enormous fires during summer. On a local front these fires caused a huge amount of damage in some our most beautiful areas along the East Coast and into the mountains. At one stage the Capital, Canberra was surrounded by fire. The cities of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne were blanketed in smoke for weeks.

We are currently in Lockdown due to the Pandemic caused by Covid-19. We have had to operate electronically and probably will continue that way in the near future, Australia has not been as badly affected as many other countries, but it is obvious that there will be major challenges in the near future.

It is very important that human rights and aid work continues in a World that is quite unstable. The aftermath of the current pandemic is likely to be economically very challenging.

ISHR-A has continued to support many overseas projects run by our cooperating groups through providing tax deductibility. Many larger donors require this facility before donating to our partners.

The future of ISHR-A requires new committee members to generously donate their time. Please consider taking an active role in our Committee.

Marie Gerrard