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update from australia

All NCJWA Sections are working within their communities, choosing events and functions suited to their state and city. NCJWA National President Di Hirsh OAM regularly visits NCJWA Sections, maintaining the close bonds binding the National organisation despite the wide distances separating our Sections in this large country. 
Several times each year NCJWA holds a National Teleconference during which representatives from each Section confer – thus leaders from Sections in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney are regularly in touch.
NCJWA‘s Council Bulletin publishes three or four issues annually – it is also available on NCJWA’s website. Additionally NCJWA NSW Division has recently set up its own website enabling full details of its activities and the catalogue of its specialist Jewish Women’s Library.
Mid –year, each NCJWA Section holds its Annual General Meeting, several of which were attended by National President Di Hirsh this year.
All Sections continue in their fundraising efforts in support of NCJWA’s four National projects in Israel.
NCJWA is organising an NCJWA Israel Tour, visiting our projects in Tel Aviv (at Ilan Foundation), Haifa ( at Haifa University and Haifa Rape Crisis Centre) and a number of KKL/ NCJWA Environmental projects around Israel. The tour will start on April 24 2013 in Tel Aviv and will arrive in Jerusalem on May 1, ahead of the ICJW meetings and Rosa de Herzeg Seminar, enabling NCJWA members to attend the seminar. 
Among the many events organised by NCJWA’s seven Sections this year were several Interfaith/ Intercultural events:
Victoria Section held a Women’s Interfaith Model Seder with over 90 participants representing a variety of faiths.
NCJWA Vic has also connected with the Jewish Indian community in a meaningful way, and participated in an enriching and enjoyable cooking demonstration.
NCJWA NSW held a Harmony Day event on Australia’s Harmony Day in March with speakers from five different faiths.
In July NSW Division screened ‘The Forgotten Refugees’, a documentary dealing with the 20th century expulsion and exodus of 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries. Representatives of Egyptian, Iraqi and Libyan Jews, whose lives were influenced by these events spoke to the audience of seventy women and men. A delicious Middle Eastern lunch followed.
In October NSW Division hosted a Transcultural lunch in its succah with a genealogical talk and research session on ‘Finding your Family’.
NCJWA endorsed 2 NGO or shadow reports to the UN during August 2012. One was the NGOs’ Follow-Up Report to the 2010 CEDAW Committee - recommendations on addressing violence against women, and for action for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women. The second report was the Joint NGO Report to the UN Human Rights Committee on the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for the Sixth Periodic Report of Australia.
NCJWA continues its roles within Australian Women’s Alliances – we are members of two Alliances which report to the Federal Government on women’s issues - the Equality Rights Alliance (ERA) and AWAVA (Australian Women Against Violence).
NCJWA Western Australia Section has been proactive in making a real difference to the local Human Rights agenda,  working hard to ensure that the UN International Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) is included  in the state’s calendar.
 NCJWA WA initiated joining with the UNAA (United Nations’ Association of West Australia) to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day; their 2012 event focused on a range of displays and a screening of the film ‘Into the Arms of Strangers’.
 Each year NCJWA WA chooses an article from the Declaration of Human Rights as a focus for their Art Competition, in which all WA Schools are invited to participate.
NCJWA Vic actively supports Stop the Traffik, distributing postcards addressed to various retailers regarding their commitment to using goods whose manufacture has not involved   trafficked women or child labour.
NCJWA NSW was addressed by Aboriginal student Maiysha Craig who was the recipient of the Shalom Gamarada Institute Indigenous Scholarship provided by NCJWA (NSW). Maiysha spoke of her experiences and challenges as a first year medical student at New South Wales University.
Community service work is undertaken in most NCJWA Sections. NCJWA NSW and Vic run excellent support programs for mothers of new babies, with NCJWA members who are professionally trained and supervised as its volunteers. This is a broad- based program which in Sydney has so far assisted more than one hundred women ,the majority of whom are not Jewish, are isolated and often new immigrants.
NCJWA Vic continues its longterm programs supporting older immigrants from Former Soviet Union, as well as its programs for Seniors.
NCJWA Vic ‘s younger group Atid held a successful night market  with stall holders selling their wares, raising funds for NCJWA’s Haifa Rape Crisis Centre program  as well as for Ovarian cancer research.
NCJWA NSW Jewish Women's Breast Cancer Network  holds its Pink Sunday event in October , the month set aside in Australia to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Pedalling for Breast Cancer has raised thousands of dollars by sponsorship of NCJWA bike riders ahead of the event.

Robyn Lenn OAM
ICJW Vice President, Australia
November 2012