Andrea Durbach

11/10/2011

 
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Growing up, being educated and practising law in apartheid South Africa made me very aware of the strained relationship between law and justice, despite their alleged connection. Coming to live in a solid democracy (Australia), I was amazed, perhaps naively, that the law was still used to undermine justice and strip people of their rights. And so the challenge for me continues - to remind law of its ‘noble aspiration’ and through my work, to nudge it closer to justice, hopefully changing lives for the better.

Andrea Durbach

Born and educated in apartheid South Africa, Andrea practised as a political trial lawyer and human rights advocate, representing victims and opponents of apartheid laws.  In 1988 she was appointed solicitor to 25 black defendants in a notorious death penalty case in South Africa and later published an account of her experiences in Upington (Allen & Unwin 1999) which was short-listed for the Alan Paton Non-Fiction Award.  In the case of the Upington 25, the judge (there being no jury system in South Africa) applied the ‘common purpose doctrine’ and convicted 25 accused of the murder of one man, a black policeman; 14 of her clients were sentenced to death and her barrister, Namibian human rights advocate, Anton Lubowski, was assassinated a few months later. Soon after Anton’s murder, Andrea came to live in Australia returning to South African to conduct the appeal of the 25 in 1991; 21 of the 25 murder convictions were overturned and all the death sentences were commuted. The story of the Upington 25 has been made into a documentary, A Common Purpose, which won the 2011 Sydney Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary. Since arriving in Australia, Andrea has continued her fight for the rights of others, through her involvement and leadership in many organisations including: the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal and the NSW Law Reform Commission, and as Director of UNSW’s Australian Human Rights Centre. She is currently a member of the board of the NSW Legal Aid Commission, the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Human Rights and the Advisory Council of Jurists of the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. In May 2011, Andrea took up a 6 month part-time appointment as Deputy Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

http://www.ahrcentre.org/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: University of New South Wales

Naomi Steer

14/9/2011

 
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Humanitarian challenges facing refugees who have lost everything can appear overwhelming but sometimes simple solutions can mean the difference between life and death. A mosquito net to prevent malaria, a plastic sheet to keep out the rain, a cooking pot to make a hot meal, and clean drinking water to prevent disease. 80% of all refugees are women and children and providing support to them is top priority for me and the team at A4UNHCR.

Naomi Steer

Naomi was one of the main founders of Australia for UNHCR (A4UNHCR). Since setting up UNHCR’s Australian fundraising operations in 2000, she has travelled to many refugee situations including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Chad and Uganda to speak with and record the stories of refugees. Close to Naomi’s heart is the Safe Mother and Baby program funded by Australian donors. Now running in Somalia - which has  one of the highest rates of maternal and neonatal mortality rates - the program focuses on reproductive health and education. At the centre of the program is a simple kit made up of a plastic sheet, clean blade, soap, string, swaddling and resuscitation instructions all of which enables mothers to give birth in a clean environment, reducing the risk of haemorrhage and post-natal infection. This simple, low cost kit of basic materials has saved thousands of lives.

http://www.unrefugees.org.au/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney

Tara Winkler

5/9/2011

 
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To be able to make a difference in the lives of such vulnerable, innocent children, to make the world a safer place for them to grow up in - has made my life richer and deeper in so many ways. It makes me strive to be the best person I can be.

Tara Winkler

Tara was in her early twenties and working as a volunteer in Cambodia when she heard about a corrupt orphanage where children were suffering from severe neglect and shocking abuse. Tara assembled a team and took action - rescuing 14 children from the orphanage and creating the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT). CCT is now home to 50 children, helping them overcome their backgrounds of abuse and nelgect, breaking the cycle of poverty through care and education. Tara resides in Cambodia and speaks fluent Khmer, and the Trust she founded also supports families in the Battambang region, street children, people with HIV/AIDS, sex workers, victims of landmines, the physically and mentally disabled, and others who are in need. Tara plans to purchase land to build on, so that CCT has a permanent base to provide children with the security they need. Rather than one large institution, the preferred model is one in which small groups (from eight-ten children) are cared for in individual homes by a house mother and father, creating an atmosphere of a typical Cambodian family. CCT has also opened a shop in Battambang to help support its activities and ABC’s Australian Story has produced a story on Tara and CCT. In 2011, Tara was named NSW Young Australian of the Year.


http://www.cambodianchildrenstrust.org/


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney

Margaret Wilcox

5/9/2011

 
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 If there’s a message I would give to people in the same situation, it is never give up, never lose hope.

Margaret Wilcox

When Margaret’s daughter Tanya was 3 years old, she was abducted by her Libyan father and taken into hiding. It took Margaret fourteen years of heartache, private investigators, lawyers, red tape, and determination to be able to hold her daughter in her arms once again. Her daughter was confused and hurt, so Margaret wrote a long love letter to her explaining the extraordinary lengths she went to in hope of finding her again. This love letter was published into a book and has been translated into 6 languages, and offers hope for those in a similar situation. There is unfortunately very little help once borders are crossed in this kind of situation, as it is deemed a personal, and not a criminal matter. Margaret used her book, Gone, to create an awareness of the problem with the hope that those responsible for the legislation governing these problems can be encouraged to look for a solution. 


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney