In late 2018, the Edmund Rice Centre launched the Human Rights Conversation Series Program to create a platform for interested people, partners and stakeholders to discuss the political, security, social and economic situation of conflict-affected countries in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. The conversation series which are taken place in form of public panel discussions aim to offer an opportunity for the wider Australian audience to learn about human rights situation, minority issues, religious freedom, political development, security situation and refugee rights in those conflict-affected countries that have significant number of diasporas in Australia.
The expected outcome of the conversation series is to raise awareness of the Australian audience about human rights, minority issues, political development, security situation and refugee rights in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, and to propose relevant recommendations to the Australian government and non-governmental stakeholders to take into consideration these issues in dealing with the governments of those countries and non-governmental actors. The conversation series are of interest to those academics, researchers, human rights activists, refugee advocates, community development practitioners, humanitarian and relief agencies, community leaders and university students who are working directly with communities from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa in Australia or following socio-political, security and economic developments in those countries.
The first panel discussion as part of the conversation series was held on Afghanistan titled “Afghanistan Now Panel Discussion’ at the Edmund Rice Centre on the 26th February 2019. There were four experienced panellists and guest speakers sitting on the panel who all had academic expertise and professional knowledge of Afghanistan’s socio-political, security and economic situation and have been working actively on human rights, minority issues, refugee empowerment and political development in Afghanistan over the course of their professional career. The outcomes of the human rights conversation series have been:
- 50 people attended the panel discussion on Afghanistan who came from various social and professional backgrounds, including academics, researchers, human rights activists, refugee supporters, community development practitioners, leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and students.
- The audience raised significantly their knowledge and understanding about human rights issues in Afghanistan by engaging effectively in the discussion, raising relevant questions, sharing their feedback with the panellists and proposing to the Edmund Rice Centre to organise similar sessions in future.
- From the comments and feedback received during and after the panel discussion on Afghanistan, we concluded that it was a very successful event which the Edmund Rice Centre will repeat over the course of 2019, including panel discussions on the situation of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka.