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.
In 2015, thousands of fishermen from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos were found on islands in Maluku province in Indonesia. These men had been trafficked into servitude, worked in inhumane conditions on fishing boats, and were then left stranded, without the means to care for themselves or return home.
I was struck by the beauty of the country and the determination of its people. Some of my ancestors sailed from Scotland to be missionaries in the Pacific, and I can see why they thought they had arrived in the Garden of Eden.
I met Fadila on a field visit with the World Food Programme (WFP) to an informal settlement in Akkar Lebanon, a stone’s throw from Syria, divided only by a small mountain range.
As part of Australia’s commitment to greater recognition of human rights, our embassies in the Mekong are working with governments and civil society to promote rights for LGBTI people.