Rule of Law – Project Rationale

When I began this project at the start of the semester, I was a little lost as to what I was going to do and who I was going to work with. Having only moved to Sydney this year from Western Australia and not knowing any non-for-profit or community organisations I was quickly extremely concerned with how I was going to progress with this course. After doing some research, which included a lot of googling ‘non-for-profit organisations Sydney,’ I stumbled across the Rule of Law Institute, an organisation I knew nothing about. I didn’t know whether they needed any help, let alone what my project would be should they consent to my volunteering for their organisation.
This project provided myself with an invaluable experience. The Rule of Law Institute of Australia serves a vital and important role in promoting civic education and an understanding of the rule of law for the youth of Australia. My project was based on providing the Rule of Law Institute with my most valuable asset, and the asset they lacked, time. The few staff at the Rule of Law Institute are too busy to be able to take time out of their days to focus on reading multiple articles, reports, periodicals and laws. I filled this void and did the research that was necessary for those working at the Rule of Law Institute to write an article for the journal LexisNexis.
The research project I embarked on was focussed on gathering the background information on the state of the rule of law in Hungary, Poland, the Philippines and Australia. Although this project was extremely conventional in an academic context and lacked the creativity of some of the other projects, it provided me with the skills necessary to work in a research institution or think tank in both Australia and beyond. To know that the research I compiled on the rule of law was going to serve a purpose in an academic journal was extremely fulfilling, Furthermore, before embarking upon the research I first had to learn about the rule of law itself, what it is, where it comes from, what constitutes it.
The significance of this project is where its importance is realized. Firstly, the project allowed for the Rule of Law Institute to continue focussing their work on their civic education projects and to continue spreading the rule of law. Secondly, the project will directly contribute to the understanding of the state of the rule of law globally, something that is in crisis. This project will allow for continued intellectual debate and has directly contributed to the development of the scholarship on the rule of law. Finally, and most importantly, it serves a purpose of delving into the role of the rule of law in Australia and how the Institute can mould its education and lobbying to those areas that need most attention within Australia. In my research, I found that there is an immense amount of complacency towards the rule of law in Australia, and this leaves the Australian public open to rights violations and exploitation by the government and our legal system. There appears to be a great need for rule of law academic work in Australia given this complacency, as it is only through academic work that support for the Rule of Law Institute can be developed and grow. Through my contribution to this journal article, hopefully this will be addressed in some regard, especially given the focus I placed on the anti-terror legislation that is extremely dangerous to the Australian public.
My research project has been extremely valuable, to my own personal growth as a junior historian, to the development of the rule of law in Australia, and to the Rule of Law Institute. Most importantly, it has been a tremendous and valuable learning experience, both in the information I learnt about the state of the rule of law but also in the opportunities there are beyond the realm of academia for historians.
I encourage anyone reading this to read about the Rule of Law Institute and all the vital work they do.

Rule of Law Institute of Australia

Achieving change – the Australian Himalayan Foundation

Travel and immersing myself in new and dynamic cultures and ways of life has always been a passion of mine. I also hold a great amount of respect for people and organisations that are dedicated to helping those in need to help themselves. For this reason, I elected to work with the Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF). The Australian Himalayan Foundation is an Australian charity committed to improving the quality of life for those living in remote areas of the Himalaya. They aim to achieve this through working in partnership with the people of the remote Himalaya to improve living standards through better education and training, improved health services and environmental sustainability.
So what am I actually doing with the organisation? Well after meeting with the CEO Carolyn Hamer-Smith for coffee last week, Carolyn explained that one of AHF’s goals for this year was to create a history of the company’s major achievements since establishment. I was later emailed a list outlining what exactly the company wanted included in this list and got to work researching and constructing. I quickly realised that this would not be an easy task. Due to the lack of online data on the organisation and the fact there have been so many people coming and going through the company; both volunteered and paid, it has been very hard to access the needed information to create this list. I have arranged to go into the office next week where I will meet with the sectary who will hopefully be able to give me access to some much needed files and information that will help me with the project. I will also be able to have a further discussion with the CEO about how they are planning on using the information I gather. It has been an interesting journey thus far and I am excited to see where it takes me.

Written in the Pages

History and literature are tightly linked, and have a multidirectional, relational connection. That is, literature can both reflect and embody history, allowing for an accessible insight into the past for future generations, and influence history by bringing to the fore new beliefs, understandings and norms whilst spreading ideas throughout society.
When I was originally faced with the task of determining an organisation to work with for a project, I spent hours fruitlessly scrolling through the wide array of not-for profit organisations on my local council’s website. After realising how difficult it was to narrow down this vast array of organisations, I began to think about how I could incorporate my interests into this task. Thus, as a history and english major I decided to try to merge both sides of my degree and remembered a scheme that I had seen and heard a little bit about previously, the Street Library Organisation.
I made contact with the Street Library Organisation and began brainstorming some ways in which I could create a suitable project in collaboration with this organisation. After meeting with members from the organisation and discussing a few different project possibilities, we decided that the most suitable and mutually beneficial project to create would be a walking tour based around the Erskineville and Newtown area. By presenting this on a public platform, this task aims to spread awareness of this organisation, particularly as it aims to grow. This area of focus will allow for an exploration of some of the first Street Libraries in Sydney, providing insights into their local impact from some of the Street Library owners.
I hope that this project will highlight the value of this organisation, both in its ability to encourage reading as well as inspiring a sense of community. The reliance on books to be donated allows for a wide range of literature to be available through this scheme, with books targeting all groups in society and of all genres.

A Place to Call Home

When I was younger, I carried around a certain apprehension that was attached to my cultural identity. Growing up and living in Western Sydney, I was aware of how important my personal history was in determining every detail of my life. From my name, to the food I ate, to the language I spoke at home, it shaped me. I was constantly immersed in an understanding of my cultural identity, and the short walk from my primary school to my home would highlight little pieces of me. There was the library that contained archives of Turkish history in the area, that detailed the migration pact that allowed my family to arrive in Australia in 1971, then the men of every colour flooding the mosque for their Friday prayers, and the little Turkish café which served traditional maraş ice cream.
On the other hand, this immersion would become overwhelming, and at times, I found that the ways in which my grandmother attempted to explicitly teach me about our culture, history, and religion, felt contrived. How could I learn about myself without become disenchanted? As history students, we can all acknowledge the importance of interaction with our personal histories, and how essential it is to create a space where that can be done comfortably.
The Austolian Youth Association (AYA), is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to maintain cultural and historical connections between individuals in the local community. ‘Austolian’ is a portmanteau of ‘Australian’ and ‘Anatolian’, created to illustrate the place of Turkish cultural and historical knowledge in the lives of Turkish-Australian individuals. The group holds biweekly dance rehearsals in which members learn dances from specific regions in Turkey, gain cultural knowledge, and prepare for performances at festivals and weddings.
The AYA states that their central goals are:
• To emphasise respect of Turkish culture.
• Improve intercultural communication.
• Promote understanding across cultures.
• Become the central point of cultural learning for youth.
I’ve been allowing my project to unravel naturally, through my interactions with the association. I’ve focused on resettling myself into the association, and becoming reacquainted with members. I’ve begun conducting interviews containing open-ended questions, both with members who have been there from the beginning, and others who have joined recently. Since their current focus is preparing for the ‘Taste of Turkey’ festival, which begins on the 13th of October, I’ve been observing their process of preparation and I’ve found that their clear dedication translates to their desire to represent Turkish history in a manner which reaffirms the importance of retaining cultural knowledge. In my short time back with the association, it’s clear that these members don’t just come here to dance.