A photograph of two women

 By Hon Dr Sharman Stone, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Over the past year, a few simple words like “#TimesUp” and “#MeToo” have inspired tens of thousands of women around the world to share their stories and advocate their rights. As the movement continues in 2018, I’m keen to use my role as Australia’s […]

On 19 November, take a moment to think about the 4.5 billion people who live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste. Even better, get inspired to do something about it.

“I miss being able to control my emotions around my family – sometimes I can’t stop laughing and sometimes I can’t stop crying.” This man’s contribution is greeted with nods and an understanding chuckle around the circle.

It is mid June 2017, and I am sitting with a group of men and women who have recently had brain injuries and strokes, along with two local physiotherapists, who are facilitating our first ever group therapy session at the Dong Nai General Hospital.

“The minute I stepped off the plane in Paro, an airport in the middle of a steep mountain range with prayer flags lining the single runway, I felt that sense of coming home.”

It was only after doing some research into Samoa and the Office of the Ombudsman that I realised what a great opportunity it would be to work with a new NHRI in the Pacific. I was also fascinated with the Samoan way of life (fa’asamoa) and how it would interact with the human rights system.

The United Nations General Assembly was packed. The occasion was the opening of the Conference of State Parties on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), which fellow DFAT officer Tim Balin and I attended in June as part of an International Skills Development Program.

Young people are often categorised as politically disengaged and apathetic. A program backed by Australia and the UN is seeking to shake this image, engaging youth and giving them a voice at the highest level of global politics.