c) Activism and social change
Human rights funding
This article was published in SX News and MCV on 21.7.10
I was deeply disappointed when the Federal Government announced in April that it does not support a national Charter of Human Rights.
LGBTI Australians continue to suffer breaches of basic human rights that a Charter could help remedy.
But the Government’s bitter pill had a sweet coating. Over $2 million has been set aside for human rights education by non-government organisations.
Few Australians grasp the importance of human rights education more than LGBTI people.
At some stage most of us have found ourselves educating family members, friends and colleagues about who we really are, what are lives are really like, and what rights are still denied us.
The Government’s fund gives us an opportunity to turn each of those thousands of everyday, individual conversations into a collective community dialogue.
The fund’s definition of “education” gives that word its widest meaning.
Community groups can apply for money for art as well as websites, theatre as well as forums, story-telling in schools as well as training in the workplace.
The type of education that groups can apply for is limited only by their imagination.
A problem with the fund, or at least its guidelines, is that the high-priority target groups are limited.
The guidelines list several social groups the Government encourages applications from including Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and people from diverse racial backgrounds.
But there is one social group completely and conspicuously absent: LGBTI people.
The Government would do us all a favour by setting some of the new fund aside to educate itself.
Should this discrimination discourage LGBTI community groups from applying?
Not at all.
In recent human rights forums in Canberra where the fund was discussed, this problem was raised and commitments were given that all applications will be treated equally.
But just in case, I’d urge as many LGBTI community groups as possible to make submissions. This will re-inforce the point that LGBTI education is important too.
If you’ve ever dreamt of a website about the lives and rights of the children of same-sex couples, or an education package tackling transphobia, or that a once-in-a-lifetime, all-singing, all-dancing Drag King Cabaret for Equality, now’s the time to make that dream come true.
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