I grew up in the Bjelke-Petersen era in Queensland and learned a lot about community campaigning through mainstream political action in the Labor Party in my home town of Ipswich. The election of Pauline Hanson as my local MP in 1996 motivated me to join with others in Ipswich who were concerned about Hanson’s politics to form the Ipswich Anti-Racism Committee. In two amazing years, we mobilised thousands of people to challenge Hanson’s racist message and to advocate for an inclusive multicultural society.
My work in Ipswich got me noticed by the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane which invited me to be a member in 1998 and appointed me as its Executive Officer in 2001. My 18 years working for the Commission has immersed me in a sea of wonderful experiences including working with the Queensland Conservation Council and the Australian Greenhouse Office on the Cool Communities project, participating in a FairWear campaign to get a mandatory code of practice to protect clothing outworkers in Queensland, supporting Aboriginal community leaders in their efforts to end the sorry history of Aboriginal deaths in custody, playing a key role in the Catholic Church’s involvement in the Queensland Community Alliance and getting knee-deep in Stop Adani Brisbane’s actions to end the madness of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.
Throughout my tenure in the Commission, my passion for the freedom struggle of the people of West Papua has grown immensely. It has seen me build strong relationships with many political, community, and church groups in West Papua and with the solidarity movement across the Pacific. Since 2016, I have been working with a core team of organisers to develop the #MakeWestPapuaSafe Campaign which targets the Australian Government’s active support for members of Indonesia’s security forces who have routinely beaten, tortured, raped and killed many Papuans resisting the Indonesian occupation of their land.