Subject: UN Award for Australian Local Government assisting East
Timorese Asylum Seeker
City of Yarra awarded by UN for advocacy on East Timor
Date Released: 6 February 2004
The City of Yarra was awarded this week for its campaign on behalf of its local East Timorese community, receiving the 'Golden World United Nations Award' for 2003.
The 'Common Sense for East Timorese - Let Them Stay' advocacy campaign, in which the City of Yarra was selected from a one of six international campaigns that represented achievements in advancing the aims of the United Nations.
Prior to the campaign in 2002, the entire community faced deportation, but as a direct result of the campaign, which involved lobbying of federal government ministers, the majority of the Yarra East Timorese community have been granted permanent residency status.
The award was presented at the International Public Relations Association annual awards ceremony in New York, home of UN headquarters, and was accepted on behalf of the City of Yarra by Councillor Sue Corby, accompanied by Mr Fivo Freitas - a member of Yarra's East Timorese community. Cr Corby was Mayor of the City of Yarra at the beginning of the campaign.
Underlining the strong commitment to the issue, all City of Yarra representatives paid their own way to attend the award presentation, with the exception of Mr Freitas, whose sponsorship by Qantas enabled him to attend the event.
Yarra Mayor Greg Barber has welcomed the award, saying it represented what could be achieved when councils are in touch with the values and concerns of their community and work in partnership to advocate in areas normally outside council's role. "We were able to harness the determination in our local community to champion the cause of our East Timorese neighbours."
Cr Barber applauded the compassion, resolve and leadership of the local community and key decision-makers, including the former and current federal Ministers for Immigration.
Cr Barber said the City of Yarra would not forget the needs of those community members whose residency status was still unresolved, and would continue to advocate on their behalf.
The City of Yarra was assisted during the campaign by local public relations company, Socom.
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