Listening to the front line on protecting human rights

Jane Edge

26 Oct, 2018

CEO of CBM, and ACFID Board member, Jane Edge, explains what she is looking forward to at ACFID’s 2018 conference and explains the importance of giving the stage to those on the frontline of defending human rights.

ACFID’s National Conference provides an invaluable opportunity for me to step out of fast-paced daily work and take the time to engage in stimulating, challenging and forward-looking conversations. It is a chance to stay in touch with colleagues and make new connections with others who share a passion for development. I particularly enjoy speaking to people who challenge my thinking and introduce new approaches. In a world marked by division, questionable news sources and social silos, this is more important than ever before.

Given billions of people, including people with disability, are still advocating and struggling every day to know and claim their rights, this year’s conference on Human Rights in the 21st Century: People, Planet, Peace is particularly timely.

There are a few speakers I’m especially looking forward to hearing. Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta is one. His vision for his country shaped one of our closest neighbours, and to this day he continues to promote peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I look forward to being inspired by his vision.

I’m also looking forward to hearing from Habiburahman from the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization and Savina Nongebatu, Deputy CEO of the Pacific Disability Forum. In forums like this, it’s vital we hear from people who are directly affected by injustice and who are on the front line everyday fighting for their rights. As Australian-based development actors, it is our responsibility to be led by their expertise, to cede the stage and to stand in solidarity.

I will be attending the CBM Australia, Pacific Disability Forum, Plan International Australia and Save the Children Australia workshop on the development role of NGOs in creating communities free from abuse and violence. As a woman, the mother of two daughters, and CEO of an organisation that supports some of the most marginalised people, this is a topic close to my heart.

We all understand the importance of protection and safeguards in our work. But when we recognise that 35% of women and girls experience sexual or physical violence; that people with disabilities routinely endure violence and detention in their communities and institutions; and that those at the intersection – women and girls with disabilities – are at 2-3 times the risk of violence, the need to act becomes urgent.

These issues are bigger than our policies, but that doesn’t mean our work can’t contribute to building safer communities for all people. I look forward to hearing from experts in disability and child rights to better understand how we can step beyond safeguards and towards a safer world. 

I will also be attending the workshop on how we can develop and use technology in ways that enrich and protect human dignity and safety. Disability inclusion has been a historical, but often overlooked driver of innovation (did you know that the typewriter was created to enable a blind woman to write?), and at CBM we’re continuing to think about how technology can prevent impairments and support inclusion.  Run by the Australian Red Cross, RMIT University, Type Human, Purpose and Oxfam Australia, the workshop promises a lively discussion between diverse players.

I hope to leave the conference with thought provoking ideas and renewed energy for carrying out the work of CBM with grace and resilience. I look forward to greeting old colleagues, meeting new ones and most all being part of conversations that will help create a world that strives for peace, cares for its planet and upholds the rights of all people.

  • Jane Edge
    Jane Edge

    Jane has held the position of Chief Executive of CBM since July 2015. Jane draws on over 25 years’ experience in high impact roles focused on social change and sustainable development.

    Prior to her work with CBM Australia, Jane’s extensive experience includes seven years as CEO of ChildFund Australia, five years as Regional Director-Asia for ChildFund International, four years as an independent consultant specialising in executive management and seven years in various media roles having begun her career in journalism.


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