A Follow-Up Capacity Building Program for Community Advocates from Burma living in Australia (September 5-7, October 4-5, 2008)

A Follow-Up Capacity Building Program for Community Advocates from Burma living in Australia (Australia, 5-7 September and 4-5 October, 2008)

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The Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) held the “Intensive Program for the People from Burma” from 5-7 September and 4-5 October 2008. This program was a follow-up training program for alumni of the DTP’s “Human Rights and Advocacy Program for the People from Burma” held in 2007. In contrast to typical DTP programs which bring together advocates from across the Asia-Pacific region, these programs were organised specifically for advocates from Burma living in Australia. Both the 2007 and 2008 programs were coordinated by Elizabeth Newell.

DTP’s work with advocates from Burma dates back to the inclusion of Burmese human rights advocates on DTP’s first courses in the early 1990’s. The 2007 program was developed through consultations with the Sydney-based Burmese communities, DTP alumni and the Joint Action Committee for a Democratic Burma (JACDB). The 2008 program was developed in response to the 2007 participants’ interest in further, more intensive training. Unfortunately, the course also arose out the lack of improvement in the situation in Burma, with Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 highlighting the continued brutality of the regime. This year’s program brought together 26 advocates, with representatives of Burma’s many ethnic communities, including the Burmese, Chin, Karen, Kuki, Rohingya, and Shan. Most of the participants reside in the Sydney area, but five out-of-state participants attended this year’s program—four participants from Melbourne and one from Brisbane.

Whilst the 2007 program was held over a series of Saturdays, the facilitators decided to hold the 2008 course over two weekends. The 2007 program was held on Saturdays for the convenience of participants working full time jobs Monday to Friday; however, although this format was convenient for participants, they missed out on the solidarity gained during a residential program. The facilitators felt that at least one of the weekends of the 2008 program should be residential allowing the participants to socialise over dinner and evening activities. Another benefit to holding a residential program was that it enabled out of state participants to attend while making only two trips to the Sydney area. DTP facilitators decided that the first weekend of the program would be a residential Friday-Sunday program held at a retreat like venue in the Sydney area. The second weekend of the program would be Saturday-Sunday only and would be non-residential, with DTP providing accommodation for the five out of state participants. This created a full five day program.

 

The Project Report is here.