Metro Assist, in partnership with Addison Road Community Organisation held an International Human Rights Day forum on 9th December 2022 to commemorate the day and initiate dialogues about human rights across communities and civil society. The forum brought together representatives of First Nations groups, refugees, community organisations, academia, and grassroots advocates, who shared their experiences, stories and insights on human rights issues affecting the group they represent.
The forum was attended by around 80 representatives from the local communities, grassroots activists, and services.
Speaking at the event, Nina Shahi, Acting CEO of Metro Assist, highlighted that the forum was organised to reflect on how as communities we are evolving to embrace universal human rights in Australia and locally where we live and work, and how service providers, civil society, and government can work together to achieve justice and equity for all including First Nations people and refugees.
In her opening remarks, The Hon. Jo Halyen State Member for Strathfield acknowledged the work that Metro Assist and Addi Road do in addressing the barriers faced by refugees and socially disadvantaged people from all walks of life by assisting them in accessing basic needs such as food and support to find accommodation or employment and helping these vulnerable people to live their life with dignity.
Ms Teela Reid, First Nations Lawyer in Residence at the University of Sydney Law School delivered an empowering and informative presentation on the Uluru Statement From The Heart, and shared the stories of past injustices and why the voice to parliament matters in protecting the human rights of the First Nations people.
The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Deputy CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia Adama Kamara and joined by Rosanna Barberro, Prominent Activist and CEO of Addi Road; Dr. Mubashar Hasan, Project Coordinator at the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) at the University of NSW; Miss Shahri Rafi, Lawyer and Afghan Community Leader; Natalia Borodina, Project Officer at the Ukrainian Council of NSW; and Amr Yahya Alkatta, Director of the Yemeni Australian Association (YAA). The panel discussed how refugees and disadvantaged communities have demonstrated incredible resiliency despite the hardships they face, and shared stories and insights about how community members and grassroots organisations are playing their parts by supporting the vulnerable groups in their healing process and overcoming barriers, thus championing the human rights.
The forum concluded with the closing remarks from Clr Philippa Scott, deputy Mayor Inner West Council and the Director of Metro Assist. She highlighted the initiatives Inner West Council has taken in addressing the human right issues raised by the panel members and keynote speakers.
The positive feedback we received from attendees affirmed the need to continue to hold such dialogues and share the stories among disadvantaged communities to build common narratives on human rights and address issues together.
Metro Assist is thankful to all the speakers and attendees and inspired by the voices of the community-based leaders and activists who shared their stories and expertise. We also commit to stand in solidarity with the First Nations people ‘On the road to Uluru Statement From The Heart’ and to support the journey by informing and educating multicultural communities about the Voice so that the communities can make informed decision at the referendum.