The Australian National Commission (NatCom) for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has played an active role across the spheres of education, natural sciences, culture, social and human sciences, and communication and information. Key achievements by the NatCom Community members in 2009-10 are highlighted below.
UNESCO General Conference
The Chair of the NatCom, Ms Anthea Tinney, and Mr Martin Hadlow (Deputy Chair/Communications and Information) actively participated in UNESCO’s 35th General Conference held in Paris on 6-23 October 2009 as part of the Australian delegation. Mr Hadlow played an important role at the meeting of the Communications and Information Commission as Rapporteur. Immediately prior to the General Conference, Ms Tinney represented Australia at the UNESCO Partners’ Forum on 5 October 2009 which highlighted the importance of partnerships to UNESCO’s viability and visibility.
UNESCO Grants Program
The NatCom administers a small-scale grants program to support community initiatives promoting UNESCO goals. Each year, grants totalling to around $80,000 are given to organisations to promote education, inter-cultural dialogue, preservation of information and knowledge, and human rights. In 2010, grants enabled:
- two Australians to attend the UNESCO Andorran Art Camp to collaborate with artists from over 30 nations and provide insights on Australian creative expression and culture;
- the Australian Memory of the World Committee to undertake capacity building initiatives and foster universal access to information and knowledge;
- Empowering Communities Incorporated to expand the project ‘Carpets for Communities – Siem Reap Expansion’ to facilitate income generation for vulnerable mothers and greater access to education;
- the Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology to hold the Inaugural Asian Academy for Heritage Management Asia/Pacific Underwater Cultural Heritage;
- the Donald Horne Institute at the University of Canberra to conserve and protect the Tam Ting Caves through a Heritage Management Project; and
- the University of Western Sydney to hold an international conference on human rights education called ‘Educating for Human Rights, Peace and Intercultural Dialogue’.
World Press Freedom Day
As Conference Convener, Mr Hadlow played a leading role in the 2010 World Press Freedom Day conference held on 2-3 May 2010, in Brisbane. The theme was ‘Freedom of Information: the Right to Know’ and the event drew hundreds of journalists and media professionals from around the world to discuss threats to the independence of the media and to celebrate the importance of free and fearless journalism.
The keynote speaker was the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, who visited Australia as a guest of the Australian Government. Ms Bokova also met with key counterparts including the Hon. Peter Garrett (then Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts), Professor Penny Sackett (then Chief Scientist) and Mr Bob McMullan (then Parliamentary Secretary for International Development). In a meeting with Ms Tinney in the margins of the Conference, Ms Bokova indicated she was very impressed with Australia’s leadership in the World Heritage Committee, and on press freedom and climate change.
The Asia-Pacific National Regional Consultations were held in Changwon, the Republic of Korea, on 21-24 May 2010. Delegations from 42 Asia-Pacific Member States participated, and Australia was represented by Ms Tinney. This meeting marked the first time all 16 Pacific countries were represented and discussions included strategies to enhance regional participation and representation, and to pool knowledge and expertise. The meeting attracted high-level attendance, including Ms Irina Bokova, the first Director-General to attend regional consultations. Other themes included the need for UNESCO to focus on core mandates, particularly education, and the strengthening of National Commissions and field offices through provision of additional resources from member states.
Asia-Pacific Screen Awards
The Asia-Pacific Screen Awards is an international cultural initiative of the Queensland Government in collaboration with UNESCO and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF). It aims to promote and acclaim the cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the Asia-Pacific region. Mr Hadlow is a member of the Advisory Group for the Asia-Pacific Screen Award and plays a pivotal role in the annual awards event each year.