Afford’s first ever Human Rights Advocate Group first convened in September 2023. From that point, they have progressed in their positive awareness campaigning across the organisation and the development of resources and communication about Human Rights.
It is a special milestone for the recognition and advocacy of Human Rights around the world this year as we mark 75 years since the first United Nations first Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which took place at the General Assembly meeting in Paris in 1948. You can watch this informative video about the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In celebration of Human Rights Day on 10 December, Afford’s Human Rights Advocate Group shares their views on being ambassadors, promoters and champions of Human Rights at work and in the community.
Steve – loves an opportunity to make positive change
Steve joined the Human Rights Advocate Group because he thrives when collaborating with other people on issues that matter and where there is an opportunity to make a tangible difference.
He says he didn’t expect to have as much fun as he has had to date being a member.
In essence, what Steve is hoping the group will achieve is to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with the same level of respect and dignity regardless of who they are. Acknowledging that its early days for the Human Rights Advocate Group, Steve said:
“I’m not sure that it has changed anything yet. I’ve always tried to treat everyone the same way, regardless of who they are or how they present. As a parent, I’ve also tried to instil this mindset in my children as early as I felt that they would be able to grasp the concept. If anything, my involvement has validated and strengthened my desire to lead my life this way.”
Judith – feels like a better person
Judith joined the Afford Human Rights Advocate Group to ensure that her workmates are protected and treated fairly – she likes that there are policies and procedures in place now to support Human Rights at Afford. She enjoys speaking to colleagues, family, friends and other members of the community about Human Rights and feels more informed to be able to do so.
Judith says the Human Rights Advocate Group has lived up to her expectations:
“Because I believe it’s made me a better person.”
Michelle – feels enlightened
Michelle feels that by talking about Human Rights with her colleagues, friends, family and the community that more people around her are understanding that everyone has unlimited opportunities. When asked what her experience has been like when it comes to learning about Human Rights through Afford’s advocate group, she said it has been “enlightening”.
“I wanted to join the Human Rights Advocate Group to help others have a better understanding of human rights,” Michelle says.
Guy – talks about Human Rights all the time
For the first time in his working life, Guy presented in front of a Board of Directors this year. He was presenting on Human Rights at the time, and one of the member Directors pointed out that public speaking is one of the hardest things to do in the world – and he had done an exemplary job. Guy loves his role on the Human Rights Advocate Group and that he gets to inform people of their Human Rights and how to protect those rights.
Joy – making Human Rights a part of everyday life
Joy got a lot more than what she bargained for when she joined the Human Rights Advocate Group – she says she has learned a lot about the importance of respect and speaking up for others, as well as speaking up for herself.
“It is a good group of people who care about one another and the world and that it brings forward all the different types of rights that we as humans sometimes forget,” Joy says. Since joining, Joy has spoken to a few people about Human Rights and says that she wanted to join learn new things and make a difference in people’s lives.
“Our greatest achievement has been, in my opinion, that we have learnt enough to put these Rights in action of everyday life. Plus, I enjoyed our meeting days and when we spoke to the Board,” Joy says. “Being part of this Human Rights Advocate Group has changed my way of thinking and my actions towards people who have disabilities and also it has taught me a lot and has helped me gain more confidence in myself.”
Kelly – I wanted to be a voice
“No it hasn’t been what I expected,” Kelly says about her experience of the Human Rights Advocate Group. “It has been different than I could of ever imaged, which is a good thing and I’m enjoying it.”
Kelly joined the Human Rights Advocate Group because she wanted to be a voice for people with disability and employees – she wanted to ensure that people were heard, that their opinions counted and she wanted to be a voice for positive change.
For Kelly, the Human Rights Advocate Group does this: “It helps all staff and clients and families in understanding their Rights and that they have the right to be heard.”
Kelly speaks up more about Human Rights now and says that: “They encourage me to become a Human Rights person for them and for other disability person and staff.”
Sharon – Outreaching
Sharon proudly wears her Human Rights Advocate Group badge at work and in the community.
“Wearing the Human Rights badge makes people ask what that is for, it is a good way to tell them about it,” she says. “I have also been asked when I’m out what the badge is, so it is getting to the community as well.”
Natalie – standing up for rights and freedom of choice
Natalie joined the Human Rights Advocate Group because she believes that everyone should be recognised and be free to make choices about things that impact their lives.
“It’s been even better than expected,” Natalie says. “Not only am I learning about Human Rights but I am advocating for people who may not be able to do so for themselves.”
For Natalie, the purpose of the Human Rights Advocate Group at Afford is to advocate for all Afford clients and to educate all employees on Human Rights, what the rights are and why they are important. Natalie doesn’t limit speaking about these important issues to her time at work, she speaks to friends and family about Rights too.
Natalie says she is looking forward to activating the awareness campaigns the group has planned for 2024 and that being a part of the group has changed the way she thinks about people’s choices.
Ros – loves helping people with their Rights
Ros loves that people approach her to ask what she does on the Human Rights Advocate Group and ask for her help with their Rights.
“I love helping people with their Rights,” Ros says. “I joined the Human Rights Advocate Group because a lot of people can’t speak for themselves and I like to help them have a voice.”
Ros says that one of the greatest achievements of the Human Rights Advocate Group to date has been building the capacity of advocates at Afford and that the group had the opportunity to present to the Board of Directors about having the right to respect
Aby – Energised through co-design
“I miss spending time with clients and this was a great way to do so in my role,” says Aby. “The human rights group as a fun codesign process to further the rights of people with disability. Being a part of the Human Rights Advocacy Group has been a lot of fun – probably more laughter and fun than I thought it would be – I often tell the Senior Leadership Team how much fun they’re missing out on.”
Aby describes the group as ‘energising’ and can see that what the Human Rights Advocate Group wants to achieve is to make everyone stop and think: how can we make our services human rights based? How can we ensure that we really see people with disability as equal and valued?
Aby says that one of the key achievements she is proud of with the group is that they have developed toolkits, information sessions with leadership and employees, and also presented on the organisation’s internal talks series: Afford Talks.
As any keen advocate will tell you – communication is key. “I love the focus on the messages – making them easy to present, share and teach. That’s been a challenge but rewarding, so getting the human rights message out there in an accessible way reinforces that sometimes with words: less is more,” says Aby.
Mariska – creating a positive and inclusive environment for everyone
Mariska wanted to be part of a group to advocate for fairness and equality, and to create a positive and inclusive environment for everyone at Afford – including clients and employees. That’s why she joined the Human Rights Advocate Group.
When asked what the group aims to achieve, Mariska said: “We create an awareness around Human Rights and what it means. We look at things like inclusion, equal opportunities, and fair treatment of everyone.”
What’s happened so far with the Human Rights Group?
In the past three months – from September to December 2023 – the group has determined a program for awareness raising about what different Human Rights mean and how they apply to people in everyday life and at work.
Incrementally, over the course of 12 months, the group has committed to increasing the understanding, support for and adoption of positive behaviour that supports the following rights:
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