Sydney, November 2020: Australia’s first ACNC-accredited NGO dedicated to promoting online human rights, JustSociale, celebrated its official launch with a VIP event on World Kindness Day (13 November 2020) – a day set aside to recognise good deeds in our communities in all their forms. A federal NGO, JustSociale selected this day to bring together guests – in person and virtually – to showcase its vision for a safer, kinder, more caring and responsible online realm.
Officially launched on International Day for Universal Access to Information (28 September 2020), JustSociale is committed to promoting and protecting the online human rights of all Australians.
“In 2012, the UNHCR declared that our online human rights are no different to our offline human rights,” JustSociale Founder and CEO, Sarah Liberty, told guests at the event.
“All human beings deserve to be treated equally and with dignity, offline and on – yet, almost nine years on, in the rapidly evolving realm of the Internet and social media – which we rely on to conduct our lives – navigating your online rights and ensuring they are protected remains challenging.”
To ensure all Australians feel self-empowered and safe when they go online, JustSocciale is already fast forging Australia’s first national Alliance of actors with an interest in Internet governance – including civil society, law enforcement, the government, activists, technology platforms, businesses, communications and advertising agencies, creatives and individuals – who are passionate about making the Internet universally accessible and inclusive.
“Our mission is to inspire all Australians to connect with each other online equally, and with respect for the inherent dignity of all members of humanity,” said Liberty.
Welcomed by JustSociale Board Member and Worimi man, Josh Gilbert, guests heard messages from Board Members based in Victoria and Germany, including leading transgender advocate Melissa Griffiths, who told guests via video messaging that she was particularly passionate about promoting freedom of expression online, after experiencing digital discrimination herself.
Technology also allowed special guest Jimmy Dennis – who spent almost 26 years in prison on death row for a crime he didn’t commit – to share with guests how the Internet helped to save his life through the Cyberspace Inmates site. After posting his story online, Dennis’s story was heard by human rights activists worldwide, and the #justiceforjimmycampaign went viral.
Liberty also used the evening to call on all Australians to join JustSociale’s national Alliance and contribute to Australia’s first online Code of Conduct.
“We want to shape an Alliance that collectively develops progressive policies that adapt to the rapidly online landscape; policies that may be diplomatically presented to law enforcement agencies, technology platforms and the government to bring about real societal change,” said Liberty. For example, whilst Australia has a number of Commonwealth and State laws in place to protect women, including from online gender-based violence, an unacceptable number of Australian women – one in three according to Amnesty – are still subjected to abuse and harassment online.
“It’s time to call all tech players and platforms to account to prevent harm from occurring online,” Liberty told guests, who included representatives from the eSafety Commissioner’s office, Google, media representatives, representatives from other civil society organisations, creatives and communications agencies.
“Not only do we need to raise awareness about online human rights by promoting safe online behaviour and good digital citizenship amongst diverse sectors of Australian society, we need to build long-term support for solutions and practices that ensure that all actors take the route of responsibility, rather than liability.”
Partners who have already signed up to join the JustSociale Alliance include Women’s March Sydney, Seedling Digital, The Calm Company, Poignand Consulting, Atlas Digital Agency, New York-based consultancy Transform your Performance, female-empowerment and fashion brand ARNA Online, Kimberley Chan Meditation, Red Road Co. and Gully 9 Productions.
JustSociale’s Code of Conduct will be made publicly available on 10 December 2020, Human Rights Day, when members of the Australian public will be invited to submit their feedback and contribute to its development.