Annual Report 2010-11
The Australian National Commission for UNESCO (NatCom) has played an active role across the spheres of education, natural sciences, culture, social and human sciences, communication and information. Key achievements by the NatCom Community members are highlighted below.
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 2011, grants enabled:
- The Australian Memory of the World Committee to hold a national workshop to create and strengthen the Australian Memory of the World Committee.
- La Trobe University to hold a regional consultation of key stakeholders to develop the Alliance of Civilisations in Asia Pacific.
- Green Cross Australia ‘Green Lane Diary’ project to expand its pilot initiative to empower 14,000 children to respond to environmental change through civic action and education, with linkages to national curriculum.
- The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival to undertake education and outreach activities to advance and encourage awareness of human rights issues through art and film.
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.
- Donald Horne Institute at the University of Canberra to conserve and protect the Tam Ting Caves through a Heritage Management Project.
- The University of Western Sydney to hold an international conference on human rights education called ‘Educating for Human Rights, Peace and Intercultural Dialogue’.
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 Martin Hadlow (Deputy Chair/Communications and IT) 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.
Memory of the World
The NatCom has an ongoing interaction with the Australian Committee for Memory of the World (AMW), whose mandate is to preserve and provide access to valuable archive holdings and library collections. Mr Hadlow and Dr Moody (Natural Sciences) have both participated in AMW strategic planning. Support from the NatCom has also included financial assistance to maintain and upgrade the AMW website; improvements to the nomination process for the Australian Memory of the World Register; responding to directives from UNESCO Paris; and to convene and record meetings. Funding was provided to hold a one-day capacity building workshop to strengthen the AWM and develop strategies for achieving sustainability. In 2011, the National Archives of Australia was honoured with an international award from the UNESCO Memory of the World project, to acknowledge its leading role in digital preservation.
Women in Science and Engineering
The Australian National Commission has raised the profile of women and worked to enhance the participation of women in science and engineering. The NatCom collaborated with UN Women Australia and Science and Technology Australia to convene the inaugural Australia Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Summit at Parliament House on 11 April 2011. Dr Moody was one of the key architects behind this event which brought together more than 150 scientists, engineers, business leaders, research funders, policy makers and media to encourage more young women into engineering, in order to boost productivity and equity. NatCom Chair Ms Anthea Tinney and Ms Chrissy Grant (Culture) also participated in the WISE Summit.
A key outcome of the WISE Summit was that a number of leading national research funders, such as the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC), agreed to changes in how they assess research publications in the grant applications of those with interrupted careers, such as accommodating maternity leave. Other commitments included:
- The Australian Technology Network universities have set a performance target that the number of female staff who teach science, engineering and technology (STE) subjects will be in the same proportion as women employed in STE industries (about 16 per cent).
- The Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), Australia’s peak body for science and technology, has undertaken to work with scientific societies Australia-wide to conduct an audit of practices with a view to increasing the participation of women through best practice.
- All research leaders agreed to take the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles back to their organisations with a view to adopting them.
Dr Moody also promotes and participates in the selection of L'Oreal Fellowships for Young Women in Science. The one-year Fellowships are intended to help women early in their careers who have shown scientific excellence and leadership potential. The NatCom was also pleased to note Professor Ingrid Scheffer, Chair of Paediatric Neurology Research at the University of Melbourne, was awarded the 2012 L'Oreal – UNESCO 'For Women in Science' Award for Asia-Pacific for her outstanding work on identifying genes involved in epilepsy.
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.
Pacific National Commission for UNESCO Training and ConsultationsThe Secretary-General represented the Australian National Commission at UNESCO’s Pacific National Commission Training and Consultations in Apia, Samoa in June, 2011. The four day event focused on two key areas: challenges and current issues impacting on Pacific National Commissions; and changes impacting all National Commissions from UNESCO Headquarters. The event provided a useful and effective way for representatives to engage, network, interact and discuss key issues and to explore solutions to obstacles and challenges faced by National Commissions.
UNESCO General Conference
Ms Tinney actively participated in UNESCO’s 36th General Conference held in Paris from 25 October - 10 November 2011 as part of the Australian delegation. Throughout she worked closely with colleagues from Pacific National Commissions, and sought to highlight their issues and concerns more broadly. This included ensuring Pacific nations benefit from the Participation Program and considering how reform initiatives affect small island states. Ms Tinney also attended the Interregional Meeting of National Commissions for UNESCO, held on 24 October 2011. This meeting presented the main findings of the Review of UNESCO’s Cooperation where it was agreed that the role of National Commissions needed to be renewed and revitalised to further the mission and work of UNESCO. Considerable scope was identified to improve consultation and communication between the UNESCO Secretariat, member states, field offices, National Commissions and other stakeholders.