Melbourne is known for its diverse and dynamic atmosphere and is touted as one of Australia’s trendiest cities. Named the ‘world’s most liveable city’, Melbourne recently however, came under fire for a controversial piece of legislation which attempted to ban homeless camping in the city. The United Nations condemned this law claiming that the criminalisation of homelessness went against international human rights law and was thus hugely problematic. The rights accorded to homeless people is but one of the many human rights concerns that need addressing in the city as well as in the wider national and international communities. The following article lists a few of the local, Melbourne based organisations with the protection and promotion of human rights at the core of their mission. For each of the organisations opportunities for employment or involvement in another form is outlined.
The Sacred Heart Mission is an NGO active in Melbourne with the aim of assisting people access their basic human rights of food and shelter and overcome situations of homelessness. While the organisation provides these basic services, it has the further mission of supporting and working with the homeless in order to build people’s capacity to participate more fully in social life and overcome the levels of social exclusion which lead to homelessness. The organisation currently has a number of vacancies for a variety of different positions. These positions range from general managerial posts to case specific social work. Sacred Heart Mission also relies heavily on volunteers and there are always opportunities to provide assistance.
Oaktree’s mission is ‘young people leading a movement to end poverty’. The organisation recognises the power of youth to undertake this mission and make a significant impact in the drive to poverty eradication. The three key aims of the organisation are: to raise awareness about poverty and inequality in the region; to partner with other grassroots organisations and to initiate education and leadership campaigns and; to advocate for social change through policy development. With a strong focus on youth involvement, this organisation encourages volunteers from the ages of 16-26 to get involved in the various campaigns and thereby gain valuable activism experience. The Oaktree ‘team’ itself posts vacancies on a rolling basis and requires candidates with a youthful spirit and commitment to the organisation’s mission.
This organisation has a focus on refugee youth and provides tailored rehabilitation, education, training and employment services. Established in 2006, the organisation recognised the need for services that provided assistance and protection for refugee and humanitarian entrant youths in the country who were at risk. The organisation works alongside community partners and government to implement solutions to the risks faced by young people from refugee backgrounds. The organisation has a number of options for getting involved, including volunteering, mentoring and assisting with youth programmes. Career opportunities are advertised when available.
The ASRC envisions an Australia that is welcoming and compassionate to people seeking asylum in the country. Based in Melbourne, the organisation is committed to obtaining fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers throughout the country. The ASRC works to achieve these goals through a variety of activities including through legal, advocacy and education campaigns as well as through more practical activities such as food and health support. There are multiple opportunities to get involved with this organisation from volunteering for the different programmes to becoming an active advocate. The organisation advertises current employment and intern opportunities on their website as they become available.
Based in Melbourne, this body is a collection of 50 community legal centres throughout the Victoria region with the aim of providing free legal advice to clients facing economic and social disadvantage. In its mission to achieve advances in social justice, the Federation provides direct legal assistance, conducts systemic law reform and policy work to improve the justice system, works to strengthen the community legal sector and provides service and support as well as representation of community legal centres. The work of the Federation is collaborative and encourages the sharing of ideas through networks and working groups. The Federation itself has an organisational role to fulfil and much of the work undertaken by staff involves facilitating and coordinating the members of the federation in carrying out the various organisational goals. Permanent positions at the Federation are advertised when available. The website also posts opportunities for careers with member community legal centres in Victoria and in the whole of Australia when they arise. Graduate, volunteer and intern positions are available throughout the year and encouraged by the organisation.
This family welfare organisation has a specific mandate for the protection and promotion of the human rights of Aboriginal children and young people. VACCA provides services and programmes aimed at preserving and reinforcing the Aboriginal culture and simultaneously protecting against child abuse and neglect. These services vary from direct intervention strategies and facilitating foster care, to policy research, to training and development programmes. VACCA is committed to creating and supporting culturally safe spaces where cultural identities can be freely explored and maintained. The organisation lists career postings on their website on a rolling basis but there are also many other ways to get involved.