Publicado em 5 de janeiro de 2007
New Zealand – Australia Regional Initiative
por Betsan MARTIN
Two members of the New Zealand committee had meetings with Robbie Lloyd who will be the Charter contact in Australia. Fields of interest and work in the Australian group include earth relationships, mental health reform, water allocation, sharing knowledge and experience across generations, partnerships with Aboriginal peoples, land restoration, earth-centred healing.
We met Tony McAvoy, an Aboriginal lawyer whose work includes water issues, land restoration, education. A group of ‘Friends’ is supporting an environmental education project.
Building partnership with Australia
Over the past 2 years members of the New Zealand committee have been building contacts with people in Australia, as potential partners for the Charter. Maria Humphries, on the NZ committee, has been at Third Sector Research conferences in Brisbane and Adelaide, and Betsan participated in an Ecopolitics conference, a Diversity conference, both in Melbourne. These brought opportunities to discuss Responsibility and disseminate the Charter.
A visit with Robbie Lloyd and Tony McAvoy from Sydney, led to two days of meetings in Sydney on 2nd and 3rd December.
Robbie has passionate interest in developing an earth consciousness that aligns with Aboriginal knowledge of sustaining life in Australia. He works in programmes for the inclusion of mentally challenged and disabled people in social life, and collaborates with Tony, who is one of four Aboriginal barristers in Australia, on community and social projects. Australia is suffering chronic water shortage, and one area of Tony’s work is in water rights for Aboriginal people. Margaret is a sculptor and teaches therapeutic methods with earth relatedness.
Tony, Robbie and Margaret are involved with a community of Aboriginal people, the Nari Nari, in New south Wales, who have been able to buy back land, which is on the Murrumbidgee River, and establish a cultural centre for land restoration. The vision statement of Nari Nari is for
Carbon dating and bone samples have established that the Nari Nari had habitations on this land 4,700 years ago. Land restoration includes irrigation and cropping, as well as recording, research and protection. The return of artifacts from museums and from earthworks disturbances is accompanied with ceremonial return to the land. Employment and recreational opportunities are combined with conservation projects and partnerships with various community parties in the Hay area.
A group of ‘Friends’ are assisting with resources for an Environmental Education Centre. Tony is interested in a Charter for Environmental Rights and Responsibilities. He is involved in setting up an Aboriginal Environment Foundation as an umbrella group for resourcing environmental initiatives.
We gave a presentation on the Charter for Responsibility, and spoke of the projects we have undertaken in NZ. We discussed the Human Rights Commission as a partner in NZ and Australia. We discussed the significance of international Human Rights instruments, referring to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and saw the importance of an international Charter of Responsibilities
The group supported the concept and felt it is an excellent basis for further collaboration. We also introduced the project “Let’s Take Care of the Planet’ and plans for a Pacific regional project on integrated governance of water and aquatic biodiversity, and the plan to begin with an Across Oceania assembly.
These discussions referred to water rights and the allocation of water resources in Australia, and reflection on concepts of water as a commons and rights of access to water. Tony McAvoy has written research paper on water rights and Maria a paper on water for a Management Studies programme. Maria and Betsan and the Charter Committee are working on New Zealand and Australia water policies.
We identified activities for follow up:
1. an elders and young people exchange between Australia and New Zealand – visits between our countries for environmental responsibility and sharing of knowledge and activities intergenerationally.
2. Building support in Australia for receiving environmental refugees from the Pacific Islands. With climate change and the rising sea levels, Pacific Islands will become uninhabitable. Australia has very restricted entry for refugees.
3. In February Robbie will meet with Charter members in NZ. We are to arrange a series of meetings with local partners.
4. Further research on water policies, including critiques of the commodification of water, and water as a commons as found in ecological philosophy.