Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
In 1983, a young Australian nurse named Helen McCue, a committed member of the Australian Nursing Federation, was working as a nurse educator with the World Health Organisation in the Middle East. Returning to Australia later that year, she took a proposal inspired by her experience in the refugee camps to the then ACTU President Cliff Dolan.
Helen’s proposal was for the establishment of an international solidarity organisation in Australia. She had been inspired while working in the Palestinian refugee camps alongside nurses from Norwegian People’s Aid, the overseas aid arm of the Norwegian trade union movement. Impressed by their focus on skills training, Helen felt that the Australian union movement could also make a difference in the lives of workers and marginalised peoples around the world.
With Cliff’s support, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was established in 1984.
Self reliance, not charity
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA’s international program has developed from a rights based approach. Our work aims to build self-reliance through support to educational and training projects for workers and their organisations. Over 40 training projects, working through 30 separate project partners in 15 countries assist many different communities in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Southern Africa and the Caribbean.
Support for these projects comes from many individual union members throughout Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), unions and workplaces, as well as from the Australian government aid agency, DFAT.
New Campaign Campaigns
Stop blocking the COVID-19 vaccine waiver at the WTO!As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines is set to further entrench global inequality and threaten millions more lives. As it currently stands more than 85 developing countries will not have widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines before 2023. Residents of wealthy and middle-income countries have received about 90 percent of the nearly 400 million vaccines delivered so far. No one is safe unless everyone is safe. India is currently recording over 300,000 COVID-19 cases per day. South Africa and India are proposing the World Trade Organisation waive certain provisions that give the owners of the intellectual property exclusive rights over the manufacture and sale of COVID vaccines. The waiver would only apply to COVID-19 medical products and only for the duration of the pandemic. This would allow these countries and others to make COVID-19 vaccines and make vaccines more available to poorer countries more quickly and at less cost. Their proposal is supported by 118 of 164 countries on WTO. Australia is currently siding with the big pharmaceutical companies in protecting their exclusive patents and huge profits even in the midst of this global emergency. Big Pharma used public funding and technology to develop these vaccines but are refusing to temporarily share the patents to speed up access for all. Just three of these companies distributed $26 billion in profits to shareholders in the last year. This scandal must end. Enough is enough support the waiver!5,247 of 6,000 SignaturesCreated by Union Aid Abroad APHEDA & Australian Council of Trade Unions
Support the people of Myanmar - End Support to the Military JuntaThe people of Myanmar are in a knife-edge moment in history as they fight for democracy through the widespread civil disobedience movement. Workers are on the frontline of this movement, and many are taking strike action to reject the military takeover. These workers and the broader movement need our solidarity and support if they are to force the military to end the coup. The Australian government must act quickly and now to assist the people of Myanmar and stop this military takeover. On 1 February, the military took power and arbitrarily arrested President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, leaders of regional and national governments and of the National League for Democracy (NLD), civil society activists and public figures. This compounds the grave damage that the military has done to Myanmar’s political, economic, social and cultural life and to human rights more broadly over the past 60 years. The Myanmar military’s coup follows their 2017 campaign of terror against ethnic and religious minorities, which included credible allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya people, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kachin and Shan States. The Australian Government has been a key development partner for Myanmar since 2012 and has had diplomatic relations since 1952. Australian businesses, including mining and gas companies are currently operating in Myanmar. They must withdraw immediately. The Australian government must now take urgent action to support the civil disobedience movement through the Australian Embassy in Myanmar in all approaches, both diplomatic and practical. It must take steps to isolate the Myanmar military from access to funding and wealth via all Australia-Myanmar cooperation and via Australian businesses in Myanmar. We demand Australia support human rights, justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar.1,730 of 2,000 SignaturesCreated by Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, Victorian Trades Hall Council and Australian Unions
Restore funding for UNRWAIn a region rife with conflicts, and now battling the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, UNRWA stands as a vital source of regional stability. UNRWA has been recognised as a major contributor in the containment of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in preventing its spread through densely populated Palestinian refugee camps in the region. Australia has a long history of support to the Palestinian people. Australian aid to UNRWA is a practical and genuine demonstration of our long-standing support for the Middle East peace process. This support provides basic services (education and health), livelihood opportunities and protection for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syrian, Lebanon and Jordan. We call on the Australian Government to restore funding for UNRWA and uphold its commitment to Palestinian refugees and peace in the Middle East.973 of 1,000 SignaturesCreated by Union Aid Abroad APHEDA
No asbestos in Covid 19 reliefThere is unprecedented international funding for public health programs. In countries where asbestos is still used, health infrastructure such as hospitals or clinics built to respond to the Covid 19 crisis may contain asbestos building materials. Economic stimulus around the world is injecting money into infrastructure and construction and in countries that still use asbestos this will result in a boost to the asbestos industry and a toxic health legacy for decades to come. Unless we act to win safe, sustainable and just health and economic stimulus spending then corporations and industry lobbies will take advantage of this moment to advance their own interests. The scale of funding is huge. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other multilateral development banks have announced tens of billions of dollars in grants and additional ‘concessional’ credit to the world’s poorest countries. To match the unprecedented responses by international organisations and governments across the world, we can take a bold step by committing that no recovery or health stimulus funds will be used to purchase asbestos building products. Join this campaign and make sure that the asbestos industry doesn’t profit from this health crisis.515 of 600 SignaturesCreated by Emma Bacon
End Illegal Asbestos ImportsAsbestos has been banned in Australia since 2003 however every week illegal asbestos imports are stopped at our border. Some new asbestos products are also still making their way into our communities and workplaces in the form of building materials, car parts, children’s crayons and even home decorations. Once they inside Australia, it’s hard to detect them and then hard to get them removed without strong government regulation and enforcement. As long as countries in our region such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, India and Cambodia continue to manufacture asbestos products, we will continue to get illegal imports. Asbestos isn’t safe at any level of exposure. That’s why we’re supporting campaigns to ban asbestos throughout our region. In November 2017 the Senate Inquiry into Non-Conforming Building Products delivered an interim report into illegal asbestos imports. The recommendations included: • The Australian Government supporting asbestos bans internationally • Increased prosecutions and penalties for illegal imports • A whole of Government approach to ending illegal asbestos imports • Funding for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency • More education and training on illegal asbestos imports • Funding to adequately screen imports • Compulsory recalls for consumer products containing asbestos The Liberal and Nationals members of the Inquiry called the recommendations ‘overreach’. Though a response has been due since May, the Government is yet to respond. We’re calling on the Government to support the recommendations of the inquiry, will you join us?376 of 400 Signatures
No Australian Money in Asbestos!Australia knows the toxic legacy of asbestos all too well. Sixteen years after the ban came into force in Australia, 4,000 people die of asbestos-related diseases every year. Around the world an estimated 250,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases each year. Still today, 125 million people are exposed to asbestos in their workplace each year. What is the loophole? The Asian Development Bank’s ‘Safeguard Policy’ prohibits investments that include raw asbestos. However, this does not apply to the purchase and use of asbestos cement sheeting where the asbestos content is less than 20%, which includes almost all asbestos sheeting. This means that victims of natural disasters can be sheltered under roof sheeting contaminated by asbestos. It means that communities trying to grow their wealth and improve their welfare can be given an asbestos time-bomb in the form of asbestos sheeting. The Asia Development Bank’s current policy enables the asbestos industry in Asia to survive, despite the disastrous health impacts of asbestos. Alternatives are widely available for all asbestos-containing products, and the ADB policy must be updated to reflect this. The ADB must close the loophole! Let’s take a stand to stop asbestos everywhere! Find out more at apheda.org.au/asbestos1,026 of 2,000 SignaturesCreated by Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
Act now to stop the violence in Rakhine state, MyanmarWe are extremely concerned by the situation in Rakhine state, Myanmar. It is unacceptable for us to remain silent whilst reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations have resulted in over 500,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh. The situation for those now living in mega refugee camps in southern Bangladesh is a humanitarian emergency. Australia is a regional power with historic political influence in the region so it is important for our government to take action to quell the ongoing violence and review all forms of engagement with Myanmar until the situation is resolved. It is crucial that the Australian government demands the immediate end of all violence by the Myanmar military and by all other actors. In particular, Australia must use its influence to demand that the Myanmar military immediately cease indiscriminate attacks using heavy weapons that inflict disproportionate violence against the population of Rakhine state. Australia must also take immediate steps to suspend its bilateral military cooperation program with Myanmar. No international government should support the Myanmar military with training, weapons, or other equipment while reports of grave human rights abuses are ongoing. This is an issue which encompasses us all. It is not simply a Rohingya issue or a Muslim issue; it is an issue that affects all of humanity. Please add your voice and email Julie Bishop to call on Australia to act now to stop the violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar.274 of 300 SignaturesCreated by Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
Pay up! Honour entitlements to dismissed Timorese security workersEduardo Belo is the owner of Gardarmor Security. He is also the biggest private sector employer in East Timor. Despite a recent article in the Nikkei Asian Review promoting his rise to ‘top business man in East Timor’, Belo has recently overseen the dismissal of over 100 Timorese security workers at Gardamor Security. Workers are angry that East Timor’s top businessman - who runs one of the most profitable private companies – has sacked these workers without paying them their entitlements. The General Workers Union of Timor Leste (SJT-TL) has turned to the Australian union movement for solidarity. We need your help: tell Eduardo Belo to honour his commitments to his security workers under Timorese labour law. We care about workers’ rights and support the General Workers Union of Timor Leste in their pursuit of compensation for these workers. Please sign and share to demand Eduardo Belo pays workers their entitlements.720 of 800 SignaturesCreated by Union Aid Abroad APHEDA