Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA held a successful fundraising dinner at Victorian Trades Hall on June 27. It was the first dinner held in four years and it was wonderful to gather together again after such a long break.
The dinner featured guest speaker Chan Thiri Soe, a senior journalist with the Democratic Voice of Burma. She shared her experience of working as an underground journalist after the military coup in Myanmar. Despite the challenges, her organisation, which now includes several Melbourne based staff, continues to operate a 24-hour television station via satellite, ensuring that people within Myanmar who are currently cut off from internet communication, receive news updates. She told the crowd: “We need international attention to remain on what is happening there. We need the Australian government to put more sanctions on the military. We also ask the international community to call for the immediate release of all detained journalists.”
Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre Professor Michele Ford gave the keynote address. She took the crowd through an overview of the state of organised labour in several South East Asian countries, providing regional-level context to complement Chan’s lived experience.
ACTU President and APHEDA board member Michele O’Neil provided an update on some of the international victories workers have achieved in the past year. These wins include the the introduction of legislation to Parliament which would mandate legal protections and minimum wages for domestic workers in Timor Leste and the Cambodian government’s commitment to banning the use of asbestos by 2025.
The lively event was hosted by Wil Stracke, Assistant Secretary of Trades Hall. Throughout the night APHEDA welcomed over 40 new members and collected more the $25,000 in revenue including donations of $2,500 for the end-of-financial-year appeal.