Driving greater diversity, equity and inclusion for refugees on the Thai-Burma border

While changing the status quo can be challenging, our local partner, The Border Consortium (TBC), is committed to ensuring that every refugee living in camps on the Thai-Burma border has a say over their future, wherever possible. Regardless of their gender, age, race, sexuality, religion, sexuality or disability status.

The Border Consortium (TBC), is a long-standing local partner of Act for Peace and the main provider of food, shelter and other forms of support to the over 80,000 refugees living in camps on the Thai-Burma border.

With ongoing violence from the military coup in Myanmar, returning home is difficult. For some refugees, a well-founded fear of persecution remains. Under these circumstances, it can be difficult to maintain hope.

But with your help, and the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), TBC is committed to ensuring that refugees living in camps on the Thai-Burma border have a say over their future, wherever possible.

This means providing opportunities to assume leadership roles and meaningfully engage in decisions affecting their lives – regardless of their gender, age, race, religion, sexuality or disability status.

Act for Peace helps resource TBC’s ‘Lead from Within’ project, which supports refugee-led camp committees – a vital system of refugee self-governance that enable refugees to decide their own affairs, and determine how best to respond to their own needs.

Twenty to thirty years ago, these committees only included men.

“At that time, people couldn’t imagine that women would be on the committees”, says Sharni, International Programs Coordinator with Act for Peace, who recently visited TBC’s team in Bangkok.

Over 80,000 refugees live in ‘temporary’ houses in camps on the Thai-Burma border where our partner, TBC, is the main provider of food, shelter and other forms of support. Sharni Boyall / Act for Peace

“But last year, they proudly supported 90 women refugees in leadership roles in the camps, which is a huge achievement. It is TBC’s hope that this shift towards acceptance and inclusivity continues to be reflected in the number of refugee leaders who are living with a disability.”

To deepen their commitment to increased opportunities for refugees living with disabilities, the team have implemented an information and data gathering tool to better understand the experiences of those living with a disability.

“Looking ahead, Act for Peace and TBC will continue to collaborate and look at ways to better meet the needs and increase the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable refugees”, Sharni says.

Sharni, International Programs Coordinator at Act for Peace, works closely with the team at TBC, supporting them to deliver the ‘Lead from Within’ project. Sharni Boyall / Act for Peace

Earlier this year, Dylan Alcott became the first person with a visible disability to receive the prestigious Australian of the Year award. Just last week, there was another first for disability inclusion in Australia, when Paralympian and disability advocate, Kurt Fearnley, was appointed to chair the board of the agency which oversees the NDIS.

Reflecting on this, Alcott told the media he was so excited he almost “got up and walked”. “That’s putting lived with experience back at the heart”, he said.

When people are included, or see themselves represented in media, culture, arts and leadership positions, their worth is recognised and respected.

In turn, this drives connection rather than division between human beings and creates a more positive and unified experience for all.

We’d like to thank our community for supporting our partner’s actions toward greater inclusivity and diversity, as we work together to create a world where everyone belongs.

You can help refugees living on the Thai-Burma border by becoming an Act for Peace partner.

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The international humanitarian agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Act for Peace acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

© Copyright 2021, Act for Peace Ltd ABN 86 619 970 188

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The international humanitarian agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Act for Peace acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

© Copyright 2021, Act for Peace Ltd ABN 86 619 970 188