United Nations Day 2019 Gala

(UN Day UNAAWA Attendees 2019)

On Friday 25th October, UNAAWA celebrated United Nations Day with its 2019 Gala Evening at the Duxton Hotel Perth. With a fantastic turnout of 250 participants, the evening celebrated the anniversary of UN Day by recognising local champions who are making impact in the areas of Human Rights, Environment, Gender Equality, Education and Young Professionals.

The 2019 Gala also commemorated the centenary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which has advocated for the power of people and the importance of work since 1919.

UNAAWA President Dr Sandy Chong opened the evening with her remarks on UN Day and ILO. ““I am proud of everyone who came together to celebrate UN day this year, and to remember why the ILO was created 100 years ago,” she said. “Imagine a world with no weekends, no eight-hour working day, no minimum working age and no protection for pregnant or vulnerable workers. That’s the workplace we might have faced if the ILO did not exist. That is why it still matters today, and the UNAAWA will continue to offer its support for the ILO and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals in order to create a better world for everyone.” 

(West Coast Eagles AFLW Player Dana Hooker gives a keynote speech. All photos by Cloud9Projects)

The evening continued with keynote speeches from West Coast Eagles AFLW Player Dana Hooker and Member for Mount Lawley Simon Millman, who represented WA Premier Mark McGowan and Minister Paul Papalia. Simon Millman spoke about the importance of safe workplaces, fair conditions and better pay in the workplace worldwide, and emphasised that modern slavery has no place in the world, as all people should be employed in dignity, safety and freedom. The night’s entertainment was provided by “Australia’s Wunderkind Organist” Alessandro Pittorino and singer-songwriter Ezereve. The vibe of the night was great, with UNAAWA School Programs Director Rees Barrett stating “it was superb! A wonderful climax for a memorable year.”

The UN Day Gala is a chance to celebrate the community spirit of the UNAAWA 2019 Award Finalists. The Human Rights Award recognises those in the WA community who seek to achieve public inclusion, bring awareness to social issues and minimise the social impacts and negative stigma that surround minority groups. This was awarded to the Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health (FISH), an organisation whose mission is to break the cycle of generational trauma, poverty and engagement in the justice system for Aboriginal people and enable them to be valued by and able to positively contribute to their community. The Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) and West Coast Eagles Academies were finalists in this category.

The World Teachers’ Day Awards recognise outstanding programs in Global Citizenship Education; a practice that develops understanding of the interconnections between local and global communities and empowers students to take action for the common good. Tracey Toovey from St Mark’s Anglican Community School received the award for Primary Schools. In her role as Junior School Sustainability Coordinator, Tracey has led the development of innovative programs that link the SDGs to school programs. Catherine MacDougall, a Home Economics teacher from Cyril Jackson Senior Campus, was awarded in the Secondary School category. Catherine empowers students to connect to their community through food.

These initiatives include 5000 Meals and the annual Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak program, which brings together Indigenous students from across the state to work with chefs and local elders in creating an Australian food culture experience.

The Gender Equality Award recognises local individuals or organisations that demonstrate an outstanding contribution to the promotion of gender equality. This was awarded to Marissa Verma, who is the Managing Director of Bindi Bindi Dreaming, an Aboriginal family owned and operated business that provides Aboriginal women of all ages access to educational workshops.

The Environmental Action Award recognises individuals or organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the protection and/or restoration of the environment, as well as those that contribute to the awareness of environmental issues to further the SDGs. This year, the award was given to Stirling Natural Environment Coastcare (SNEC), a community group of volunteers with a passion to conserve, protect and promote natural resource management of the City of Stirling’s coastal reserves.

(UNAAWA President Dr Sandy Chong with VIP guests Rotary Club District Governor Graham Peden and Chung Wah Association Vice-President and Immediate Past President Jiping Zuo and Ding Shao Ping)

The Young Professionals WA Award is dedicated to the SDGs that aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. This was awarded to the author, philanthropist, inspirational speaker and social change maker Nkandu Beltz. Nkandu has worked in the non-for-profit sector for more than 15 years and has demonstrated her passion in many roles and achievements, including in her involvement with the G200 Association, Save the Children and UNAA. She has also trained as a peer educator by the Botswana National Youth Council and as a peer councillor in matters relating to HIV and AIDS.

The children’s book ‘Fairy Tales for a Fairer World’, which re-thinks traditional tales to reflect today’s global challenges and SDGs, was launched at the Gala. The book was well received and raised over $1300 toward the continuing work of UNAAWA.

In reflecting on the night, UN Day 2019 Committee Chair Teresa Garbo Lee said “The UN Day gala event is more than an evening of joy and photo opportunities. It is a time of recognition, reflection and reaffirmation. As long as we continue to put UNAAWA’s agenda ahead of us, we will make a real impact together.”

A big thank you must be given to the Gala’s sponsors – the night would not have been possible without them. Thank you Rotary of Perth, West Coast Eagles, Lotterywest, Voyager Estate Margaret River, Duxton Hotel Perth, Aalst Wilmar, Association for Human Rights and Social Justices WA, the State School Teachers’ Union of WA (SSTUWA), the Independent Education Union of Australia WA Branch, Fogarty Wine Group, 3drops, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Maison Alainh Fine Wine Consultancy, COMO The Treasury, and Sandalford.

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