Free speech in Brisbane by the Refugee Action Collective

REFUGEE ACTION COLLECTIVE

REFUGEE ACTION COLLECTIVE

“I have been involved with the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) for eight years. RAC is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit campaign group that seeks to change government policy to free refugees from detention and allow them to be given permanent residency in Australia. Over the last few years as we’ve organised protests in the city, the Brisbane City Council has made it increasingly difficult for us to book and organise peaceful assemblies.

Late last year, protests erupted inside the Manus Island detention centre by refugees, as the authorities attempted to force them into another camp. Their heroic actions sparked protests throughout Australia, demanding their freedom, and RAC in Queensland organised weekly protests in the month of November.

On one such protest, I led a march of several hundred people into Queen street mall where we chanted and held speeches. While the mall is public space, Brisbane City Council have severely restricted public use of the space, with a set of local laws that allow them to lay heavy fines against any number of activities in the mall. While no participants were fined during the protest, two months later I received a $630 fine for using a megaphone on the night via mail. We launched a fundraiser for the fine and within 28 hours had raised all the funds we needed! We’ve also begun a campaign for free speech in Brisbane, please sign here to help our cause: https://www.change.org/p/lord-mayor-graham-quirk-demand-free-speech-in-brisbane-cbd.

As the late British politician Tony Benn put it, “The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.” And while the condition of many of us in Australia pales in comparison to the hell that our Government has created for refugees inside the camps, it is the same political parties that have pursued anti-refugee policies at a federal level that have also restricted our rights to free speech and assembly in Brisbane.

Our struggle for refugee rights in this country is also the struggle for all our rights, and when we have, together with our refugee brothers and sisters inside the camps, shut down those centres and when they’re brought to Australia for immediate settlement, then our community will be all the better for it.”
Tim Arnot

For more about this awesome cause, check out Tim and the Refugee Action Collective’s crowdfunding campaign to protect free speech below:

 

 

Celebrating Inclusion and Diversity with Pride Cup Australia

Pride Cup Australia

Pride Cup Australia“As a kid growing up in country Victoria, I loved playing footy more than anything. But, as I got older, the football club also felt like the one place I’d never be accepted for who I was. Words like faggot, poofter and homo were considered “part of the game”, whether coming from over the fence, from the opposition, or even my own teammates.

It took me more than 10 years to finally come out to my club. When I did, not only did my teammates stand by my side, but together, we created the first Pride Cup.

We turned one of our home games into a celebration of diversity and inclusion, so that every supporter, official and player knew that they didn’t have to choose between being themselves, and the game that they love.

We painted our 50m line rainbow, wore rainbow jumpers and presented the Pride Cup to the winning team. Alongside, we designed and delivered the first-ever education program for players and coaches to help them challenge homophobia, so that more LGBTI people can access the health and wellbeing benefits of community sport.

5 years after the first Pride Cup, we’re now supporting 11 of these events annually across Victoria. As the heart of many regional communities, sporting clubs have the power to create ripple effects and transform attitudes and no other event has put LGBTI people and their stories on the front pages of regional papers quite like the Pride Cup.

Now, more towns across Australia are ready for Pride Cup, and we’re ready to bring it to them!

To go from 11 to 150 Pride Cups annually in 3 years, we’ll create a national support program to help clubs develop and execute their own Pride Cup. Through this program, we’ll engage 30,000 players, 150,000 fans and up to a million people through regional and national media.

To make this happen, I’ve engaged an advisory board with former AFL players, a former AFL Commissioner, corporate heavyweights, philanthropic leaders, and Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and most excitingly, hired a co-founder.

Already the founder of LGBTI youth sport organisation, Proud2Play, James Lolicato brings incredible expertise and experience to our team. He’s also the 2017 Australian Community Leader of the Year and a nominee for the 2018 Victorian Young Achiever Award!

With James and the advisory board in place, momentum is building. In the weeks since launching our crowdfunder, I’ve heard from football clubs in Stawell, Mornington, Daylesford, Colac and Ballarat – all ready to bring the Pride Cup to their communities.

As a young kid struggling to come to terms with my sexuality in a country town, this is a game changer that I’d never imagined would one day become a reality.

We have the proven model, we have the demand, we have the goodwill of the community and we have the A team.

Now all we need is you. Will you join us?”

Jason Ball, Founder Pride Cup

Take a look at Pride Cup Australia’s campaign page to learn more about their inspiring work around inclusion in sport:

Preserving the Kunanyi Mountain

Kunanyi

Kunanyi

“Residents Opposing the Cable Car (ROCC) is a group of people who care about Kunanyi, who value having the mountain that looms above Hobart remain wild and natural. There’s a road to the top and telecommunications infrastructure there, but that is all. The foothills and slopes, and the dramatic summit cliffs, well loved as they are, remain intact.

There’s a proposal to run a cable car up Kunanyi and we oppose that.

We oppose pylons, wires, forest clearing, bus-sized carriages running directly over the incredible cliffs every 5 minutes and for up to 16 hours a day, and the proposed large multi-storey building at the summit.

The development would fundamentally change the character of the mountain. It would become just another tourist destination and the wild nature of Kunanyi would be lost.

There are many people who are fiercely protective of Kunanyi and some of those people formed ROCC. Some of us live right under the Mountain and others live elsewhere around Hobart. We are a diverse bunch but working together has brought to the fore an extraordinary range of high level skills – research, design, networking, communications, legal, photography and more. And if we can’t find the skills within the group it’s generally not a far reach to find them willingly offered from elsewhere.

We are all volunteers of course, but we think about and work on this campaign all of the time. Determination to keep Kunanyi as a natural and unshackled icon is our common motivation and incredible creativity springs from that determination.

We look to Kunanyi virtually every day of our lives here. It’s our glimpse of wilderness, our restful gaze and a weather station all in one. The least then that we can do is to look after it.”

You can read more about the ROCC and their efforts to preserve Kunanyi on their campaign page:

Basics for Blokes: Helping the Homeless in Perth

Lenny Jacoby Basics for Blokes

Lenny Jacoby Basics for Blokes

“I am a mother of two young kids 4&2 so any of my volunteer work is fit in around my job as a mum and a job as a nurse. Probably good to mention my amazingly supportive husband who does a lot of the background work at home to make sure I have space and time to do this. He is a dead set legend.

I used to work in an inner city hospital, seeing homeless people come in for treatment and often making remote indigenous people become homeless so that they can access their life saving treatment. So I guess the issue of homelessness has been around me for a while and Ive always been aware of it.

In 2014 a small chat with a friend saw my request for ladies toiletries and decent underwear turned into a viral campaign called Essentials for Women. Since then I have created a charity called The Essentials Collective Inc in Perth.

Our next chapter is Basics for Blokes.  Our goal is simple: to make sure that every man in Perth has access to basic toiletries, socks and underwear.

I’m part of an incredible team at BFB. We have six strong leaders in Perth sitting at our table. We know that we can’t change everything about homeless in Perth. We know that the cost of living is high, that access to basic hygiene products are difficult, that people can fall through the gaps in our system. It is the simple things that we take for granted that can make a tangible difference, that giving people a hand up, not a hand out, can empower them to put their best foot forward.

And we know socks work. The bloke that I talk about in our campaign video, we gave him a few socks in 2016. He found me at Perth Homeless Connect last year. He remembers the socks that we gave him. And the best thing is that he is no longer homeless.

We hit 50% of our goal in 12 hours. It blew us out of the water. $5000 means that we would get 500 pairs of socks for the homeless. Our next step would be to smash our goal and increase our target so that we can get 1000 pairs of warm socks on the Perth streets this winter. Could you imagine that? ”

Learn more about The Essentials Collective and their work with the homeless on their campaign page:

Getting Cajon High School Jazz Band to The Santa Cruz Festival!

Cajon High School Jazz Band

Cajon High School Jazz Band

“As a music educator, I’ve always had an interest for serving urban, working-class communities like the city I grew up in. When I was appointed the band and orchestra director at Cajon High School in San Bernardino, California three years ago, I was overjoyed to bring opportunities for music education and performance to the students in the city.

San Bernardino is a city in the Inland Empire region of Southern California that has been struggling with economic recession- in 2012, the city became the largest city in the United States to file for bankruptcy (and to this day, remains the second-largest city to have filed for bankruptcy- behind Detroit). Most of my students at Cajon High School live in economic hardship. My students have lived with violence around them: in 2015, our city was rocked by a terrorist attack that placed the community in fear and mourning; in 2017, the elementary school a block away from our school was the site of a school shooting stemming from a domestic dispute. Despite this, the city of San Bernardino shows its resilience through its community. As an educator, I support this resilience by teaching one thing: hope.

My approach to making hope happen in my music classes is to provide my students greater opportunity. Since taking over the position of band and orchestra director, the program has expanded in its ensembles offered, amount of performances, quality, and in number of students.

This is the third year that I have spent restarting the jazz band program at Cajon High School, and the first year we have had a big band instrumentation. As a professional musician who has travelled performing music, I also wanted to show my students that music can take them places- quite literally. When the band was accepted to perform at the 2018 Santa Cruz Jazz Festival, I knew this was an opportunity I had to make happen for my students. I investigated the costs involved, and saw that it was an achievable goal, which was why I went to my parent group to start a Chuffed.org fundraiser. In tandem with the Chuffed.org fundraiser, I promoted the group and the cause through social media with musicians I performed with and friends and family, and through a piano recital series. I never realized how quickly the community could come together to make this opportunity happen for my students!”

You can read more about the Cajon High School Jazz band on their campaign page:

The Big Bottle Tour, by Annett and the Boomerang Alliance Team!

Annett

Annett

“I used to be a telecom engineer and got to work in different countries. But wherever I lived, I was drawn to and fascinated by our oceans and the many amazing creatures that live there. 15 years ago, I decided to make this passion my profession. I studied marine ecology and came to understand that human impact goes further than overfishing and loss of habitat. Our oceans are drowning in waste, most of it plastic. That plastic never goes away, it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, which when ingested by animals can transfer toxic chemicals, many of which have been found to magnify up the food chain. The scale of plastic debris is simply staggering and cleaning up is not a solution. I wanted to do something to stop this at the source, on land.

I joined Boomerang Alliance, an Australian not-for-profit group working to reduce marine plastic pollution. We lobby governments, work with industry and educate communities on issues such as single-use plastic packaging. I’m their sole Victorian representative and have been campaigning for 18 months for a container deposit scheme. Drink containers are one of the biggest contributors to plastic marine debris. The CSIRO found that containers are three times less likely to be littered in areas with a container refund scheme. It’s easy really: put a value on it and it doesn’t get tossed! Victoria and Tasmania are the only states that have yet to commit to such a scheme.

The scheme is also great for providing funding for charities and community groups. It’s easy to convince people of why this makes sense, but it’s sometimes hard to be heard over the dim of other issues taking up space and time. So, I decided to go BIG… enter the Big Bottle, which I want to tour around regional Victoria. I put out the call and have already received many offers of help with setting up meetings with MPs, talking at schools and doing clean-ups. The best part of my job is working with all these local waste heroes and I can’t wait to meet them! Together we can push this sensible scheme high up on the Victorian government’s agenda. Let’s just hope the Big Bottle makes it all in one piece 😊”
Annett and the Boomerang Alliance team

Learn more about this awesome cause on Annett’s crowdfunding campaign page below:

Bringing fair fashion to Fremantle – The Fitting Room by New Mode Collective

New Mode Mag Launch

New Mode Mag Launch

“Eve and Acacia met in self defence class just over 6 months ago and immediately connected over a shared interest in fair, sustainable clothing. After sharing countless cups of coffee, reading lists, impassioned discussions, wistful dreams and sweaty training sessions, they discovered that Acacia’s background in community development, and Eve’s in fashion and textiles, were just what the other needed to start stirring up the industry. New Mode Collective was born as a platform to share all they have learnt about clothing; the people who make it; and its effects on our precious Earth.

In May 2017, they created a clothing supply chain installation and facilitated a series of workshops on sustainable fashion at Moral Fairground’s Victorian Fair Trade Festival. The positive responses were overwhelming, and served to reinforce their belief that education and access to ethically produced, sustainable clothing must improve fast! Propelled by the fires in their bellies, they showcased the exhibition again in December and launched the first edition their zine, New Mode Mag.

They are now embarking on their biggest venture yet; New Mode Fashion Festival (NMFF), March 3rd – 11th, in Fremantle, WA. Thus far, their projects have focused on education and, while they recognise the importance of this, they have come to realise that a barrier for many people is lack of access rather than knowledge. Outside Australia’s major cities, sustainable clothing is available almost exclusively online, which makes curating a thoughtful wardrobe daunting for many. As part of NMFF, they’re launching The Fitting Room, a pop-up retail space where people can try on sustainable garments before buying them online. They’ll be hosting an industry conference on ethical business, a screening of the harrowing yet inspiring documentary, River Blue, and an Emerging Designer Showcase of Perth and Melbourne’s fledgling conscious designers.

Crowdfunding has proven to be a perfect way to galvanise support for these projects, and Eve and Acacia can’t thank Chuffed and their supporters enough for making it all possible!”

For more on The Fitting Room and New Mode Collective, check our their crowdfunding campaign below:

Hayes Urban Teaching Farm: An Educational Agricultural Experience

Claire Hayes Urban Teaching Farm

Claire Hayes Urban Teaching Farm

“In the spring of 2016 , I came home to New Brunswick after 2 months away, getting my hands dirty and learning about small-scale farming, homesteading, and bee keeping in New England. I was ready to find my next calling in the local food scene here at home. While continuing to work part time with a local food retailer that I loved, a long-time customer told me about their goal of starting a learn-to-farm program in the city. She invited me to join in and I began volunteering with the Hayes Urban Teaching Farm project. In February 2017 I was so lucky to start working full time on the project.

Food has a natural ability to bring us together; it is not only a necessity, but also one of the major joys of life. The positive environmental and social impacts a healthy food system can have are impressive, not to mention the health benefits and rewards that come from producing your own food. In working to create more earth-friendly farmers in an agriculturally hungry province, there will be significant rewards and a massive potential for positive change in our rural communities.

I am the outreach coordinator for the Hayes Urban Teaching Farm project, and so have the opportunity to tell our story to anyone and everyone that wants to hear it, keep momentum up, work to fit the puzzle pieces together, and collaborate with the rest of our enthusiastic team to dream this brilliant project into reality!

When the pilot program gets off the ground in less than 2 months (eep!), I will be sliding into a different role and will be taking the farmer training course. I guess that this is the year that I find out if I actually have the chops to be a farmer! It’s been a wild time helping to get the project so far in a relatively short amount of time, and things are looking gooooood! Thanks for your interest and support and keep in touch! ”

You can find out More about Claire and the work that Hayes Urban Teaching farm carry out on their campaign page:

Presidents Day Fundraiser for Kansas City Justice!

Fundraising Team for KC!

Fundraising Team for KC!

“For the past eight years, we have used Presidents Day weekend as an excuse to dress up in costumes and bar hop in Kansas City, Missouri. What started out as just a silly day with friends has now transformed into a way to spread some love and do some extra good in our communities.

Last year, following the 2016 election, there seemed to be an excess of anger and hate ruminating in our country – no matter which way you lean politically, it was clear that we could all do with some extra love. So, rather than let those feelings of hopelessness and fear bog us down, we decided to turn our annual day of silliness into something that could help those who need it most.

In 2017, we raised $720 for the International Refugee Assistance Fund, to provide legal aid to refugees worldwide. This year, we’ve dedicated our bar crawl to the Justice Project of Kansas City, which provides advocacy and criminal justice system navigation for women in poverty who are suffering from homelessness, domestic violence, mental illness, addiction, prostitution, or other forms of trafficking exploitation and abuse.

Each year, we aim to choose a different organization that will help those who are in particular need or are feeling overlooked, marginalized or otherwise disenfranchised. The goal is simply to put a little good back into our world – and to have fun while we’re at it!”

This year, the team are raising money for the Justice Project of Kansas City. Check out their crowdfunding campaign below:

 

Elise’s Operation Groundswell Volunteer Trip to Thailand!

Nils Birthday Hike

Nils Birthday Hike

“Over the past 10 years, I have seen many pictures and heard inspiring stories from families and friends who volunteered for underprivileged communities overseas. This sparked my interest in participating in a similar program. I have always enjoyed getting involved and volunteering within my own community. I am motivated by the ability to help others and am happiest when I can spread my energy and positive spirit onto those around me. I love to keep busy and work hard on projects that lead to tangible, visible results.

In 2016, I had the privilege of travelling to Nicaragua with a good friend. We spent 10 days backpacking through various cities and towns, experiencing a new culture, hiking up volcanoes, and learning about the rich local history. This experience caused me to fall in love with backpacking, but also demonstrated that so many countries around the world could use support. We are so privileged here in Canada, that it is easy to forget about the issues occurring worldwide. Since then, I have been looking for opportunities to backpack through new locations, soaking up new experiences and cultures, while finding ways to give back to the communities I visit.

Now in my final semester of Mechanical Engineering, I have been coming up with a plan of what to do after graduation. That is when I came across the organization Operations Groundswell; a non-profit, backpacking-style, volunteer-based organization that is dedicated to taking young adults outside of their comfort zones and into the wider world to explore, learn, and give back to communities in need. And then, to make things even better, I found their program called “Farm to Table”, in Thailand. Food is another very big passion of mine. I love to try new things, experiment with new recipes, and incorporate various cultures into each dish I create. Additionally, I am very concerned for the environment, and am always careful to eat in a sustainable manner while supporting local farmers.

Farm to Table with Operations Groundswell, incorporates all of my passions and provides me with a fantastic opportunity to help others while supporting a cause I care a lot about: sustainable farming practices. While getting my hands dirty volunteering on an organic farm, I will learn first-hand about alternative modes of food production.

Volunteering my time and efforts to the foundations and farms in Thailand will provide them temporary relief and bring a new positive energy among them. However, monetary support is also important for them. I am raising money to help organizations in Thailand such as The Mirror Foundation and Pun Pun Centre for Self Reliance; continue to help sustain their local economy and live more self-reliant lifestyles.”

Check out Elise’s crowdfunding campaign page below!