Jan 12

2018-01-12 Prominent Baha’I Sentenced to Death

Baha’i are very peaceful people with whom I have worked over the years in Australia and elsewhere.
Today I have learned that a prominent Baha’i leader in Yemen, Hamed bin Haydara, 53, was sentenced to death on 2 January of for his religious beliefs. Mr bin Haydara was sentenced after more than four years of imprisonment during which he was tortured; he was sentenced in his absence to death by a judge of the Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a, Yemen. An appeal has been lodged. Please refer to http://bahai.org.au/index.php/death-sentence-in-yemen-alarms-australian-bahai-community/
I am calling upon human rights loving Australians and the international community to speak out against the judgement.

Jan 11

2018-01-11 2nd National Advancing Community Cohesion Conference, WSU, Nov 2017 – Publications

Western Sydney University hosted the 2nd National Advancing Community Cohesion Conference – Today’s Challenges and Solutions, at its Parramatta Campus, from 20-22 November 2017.

Over 280 participants attended the Conference which was convened by Dr Sev Ozdowski AM, Director of Equity and Diversity at the University.

The Conference considered contemporary challenges to social cohesion in diverse, multicultural communities, and ways to more effectively address them. It was attended by politicians, decision-makers, thought leaders, and practitioners from government departments and agencies, academia and think-tanks, civil society organisations, schools, and the private sector.

While multiculturalism was the cross-cutting theme of the Conference, relevant issues were considered from several perspectives including social, economic, political, cultural, legal, religious, and sexual/gender identity, perspectives.

The feedback received from participants revealed that 87.5% rated the Conference as having ‘Very High’ or ‘High’ utility (usefulness, benefit or value) while 93% said they would attend another community cohesion conference organised by the University.

The narrative report on the Conference is attached.

2018-01-09 Report on the 2nd National Advancing Community Cohesion Conference

Dec 30

2017-12-30 7th IHREC, Chile 2016 – Published Papers

It was rewarding to receive the publication of key papers presented during the 2016 International Conference on Human Rights Education that was held on December 12-15, 2016, at the Faculty of Law of the University of Chile (Universidad de Chile).    7IHREC CONFERENCE BANNER (2)

The 2016 IHREC was the first of these Conferences to be held in Latin America. It was organized by the Faculty of Law’s Center for Human Rights and its Office of Outreach, in cooperation with Western Sydney University. The Organizing Committee of the VII IHREC included representatives from both the University of Chile and Western Sydney University. From the University of Chile: Lea Newfarmer, Myrna Villegas, Alex Choquemamani, Paulina Pulido, Natalia Reyes, Lorena Pino, Camila Araneda, Claudia Cárdenas, Javier Godoy, Nicolas Bosbach, and Sebastián Candia. From Western Sydney University: Sev Ozdowski.

The Conference, which was bilingual, brought together academics, students, activists, government officials, members of NGOs, and experts to discuss the most pressing issues regarding human rights education (HRE). Over four days, the IHREC participants took part in thematic panels and poster presentations that dealt with eight issues: 1. Human rights education (HRE) in formal education systems. 2. HRE in professional training. 3. HRE for the general public. 4. Judiciary and HRE. 5. Transitional justice and HRE. 6. Multiculturalism and HRE. 7. Gender and HRE. 8. Social rights and HRE. This publication compiles a majority of the presentations given during the thematic panels, in the language in which they were presented and organized into thematic chapters that reflect the eight issues detailed above. Throughout the discussions, conference participants presented case studies and theoretical frameworks that should guide the promotion of best practices in human rights education. They identified major political, economic and cultural obstacles that hinder the full exercise of human rights and the ways that HRE can help confront those obstacles.

For the publication see :  VII IHREC Chile

Dec 28

2017-12-28 8th ICHRE, Montreal, Canada

IHREC 2017 Canada - editedThe 8th International Conference on Human Rights Education, Bridging our Diversities, was held in Montreal, Canada, from November 30th to December 3rd, 2017. Concordia University provided the venue and graciously hosted the event. The 2017 Conference was co-organized by Dr Sev Ozdowski of Western Sydney University and Australian Council for Human Rights Education. This year’s Conference was the 8th in a series of annual conferences previously held in Australia, South Africa, Poland, Taiwan, USA, Netherlands and Chile.

More than 310 registered participants coming from over 50 countries in all regions of the world took part in this event. The main objective of the Conference was to work together to develop a dynamic articulation of the value of human rights education as well as to document a collection of innovative and effective strategies and practices to respond to current global challenges.

The conference spread over the 3.5 days and consisted of three major themes:
. Human rights education as a fundamental response to global challenges, for reconciliation with
indigenous peoples and in achieving gender equality
. HRE good practices for building equitable and inclusive communities
. HRE tools and tactics to ensure impact

All workshops and panel presentations followed a participatory approach which involved active engagement of participants.

More information and a full list of all plenary, workshop and panel sessions, including main speakers and organizations responsible for organizing workshops and panels, is provided in the attached Narrative Report, Conference Program, and Conference Declaration and Closing Remarks.

ICHRE 2017 Narrative Report   IHREC 2017 Declaration     IHREC 2017 Full Program

IHREC 2017 Closing Remarks (by Sev)





Dec 11

2017-12-10 Happy Human Rights Day

Please see the enclosed article suggesting what could be done to improve Australia’s Human Rights protection system.
See: http://theconversation.com/ten-things-australia- can-do- to-b…

I certainly would support the idea that we need to legislate for an Australian Bill of Rights along the lines proposed by Fr Frank Brennan after his extensive consultations across Australia on the issue.

See also:

Video: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Human Rights Day 2017 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. You. Me. Everyone. In our daily lives, our schools and work, in our political and community life, all of us can uphold that fundamental truth and build a better global community for us all.”

OHCHR Website for Human Rights Day

Happy Human Rights Day – Stand Up for Human Rights

Nov 24

2017-11-24 DCA and NAB Annual Diversity Debate 2017 – recordings

Weren’t able to attend this year’s DCA and NAB Annual Diversity Debate?  Or just want to revisit some  of the poignant messages and humorous discussion over whether a focus on identity helps or hinders diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

DCA and NAB Annual Diversity Debate 2017

DCA and NAB Annual Diversity Debate 2017

A full video recording of the evening of 24 October and a transcript of the event are now available for DCA members to download. Non-members can also watch the highlights video.



Nov 16

2017-11-16 Interview on ABC Sydney’s Wendy Harmer Program

This morning I was a guest on Wendy Harmer’s ABC Radio Sydney’s morning show to talk about the next week’s 2nd Advancing Community Cohesion Conference hosted by the Western Sydney University on 20 – 22 November 2017. Wendy’s show has an audience of over 300,000,  so hopefully it will translate to additional conference registrations.

We discussed:  How do we unify Australia?  For the interview see: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/mornings/mornings/9136454

Nov 14

2017-11-14 2nd Advancing Community Cohesion Conference Parramatta 20 – 22 November 2017

I am proud to invite you to a national forum to explore Australian answers to global and local challenges to community cohesion.

In July 2015, Western Sydney University hosted the 1st National Advancing Community Cohesion Conference – Towards a National
Compact. An indication of its success was the request from many of the 250 or so attendees for a follow up conference.

Inspired by the encouragement, and committed to inclusive, thriving communities, Western Sydney University is proud to announce the 2nd National Advancing Community Cohesion
Conference – Today’s Challenges and Solutions. The event will be held from 20 to 22 November 2017 at our Parramatta South Campus.

The Conference program is available here.

Nov 06

2017-10-24 DCA and NAB Annual Diversity Debate 2017

On Tuesday 24 October 2017 I participated as a speaker at the Annual Diversity Debate hosted by the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and moderated by Tony Jones, one of ABC’s most respected
journalists at Dolton House Jones Bay Wharf, Pyrmont.

This year the question was asked: Does a focus on identity help or hinder diversity and inclusion in the workplace? I was on the negative team together with Prof Peter van Onslen, notable political commentator and political journalist for the Australian and Sky News and with Ms Libby Lyons, head of Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

DCA is the independent, not-for- profit workplace diversity advisor to business in Australia. They provide high level advice and strategy to over 400 member organisations across the private and public sectors.As the debate is DCA’s major fundraising event of the year I am pleased to report that the event was NCA best yet, with a record crowd of 462 guests enjoying the thought provoking conversation as well as great food and wine, all in a fabulous setting.

The discussion shed valuable light on the positives and negatives of a focus on identity and provides employers with food for thought when it comes to their own Diversity and Inclusion programs.
Event partner Bloomberg have shared with us the exciting news that #DCAdebate ranked as the top trending topic on social media in Australia as of 7:30pm on 24 October and remained in #2 rank thereafter until 11:30pm, which was just an incredible outcome.

You can view photographs of the event on our DCA Debate photo album on Facebook and you can read our eNews – feel free to share both. A highlights video of the Debate will be uploaded to the DCA website in the next week or so, and media coverage of the event and other DCA activities can be found in the News section of our website.