What can you do to help the city heal following Sydney’s Siege?

flowers2.jpgOur city is grieving. Hundreds of thousands of people are making a pilgrimage to Martin Place to honour those who died. There are spontaneous events and pray services happening every day across the city – a bike ride from Lakemba Mosque to Martin Place, inter-faith services in Mosques and Churches, candle light vigils.

So many people want to do “something” to bring our city together. There is a lot you can do. If you are one of those people who wants to do more, here are some suggestions:


1. Wear an Olive Ribbon

In October the Sydney Alliance (a coalition of all the major religious organisations, unions, schools and community organisations in metropolitan Sydney) launched the “Olive Ribbon Project” The idea was for people to wear a symbol that showed that we cared for all of the different communities in Sydney – regardless of race or religion. We chose “olive” because it reminded us of an “olive branch” – a symbol of peace.

Since Monday, hundreds, and now thousands of Sydney Alliance leaders are wearing Olive Ribbons.

The ribbon is a conversation starter. It gives us the ability to talk about who we are, and why we believe that Sydney can be a place driven by love and care instead of hate.

Just this week we had a working been and made 1000 more ribbons. We set up drop off points around the CBD for individuals or groups to collect ribbons, these include:

  • Pitt St Uniting Church between Park and Bathurst Sts
  • Unions NSW, Lvl 3 / Goulburn St Sydney
  • Catholic Archdiocese Headquarters, Lvl 5 / 133 Liverpool St (ask for the Justice and Peace Office)
  • NSW Cancer Council, 153 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo, ask for Kelly
  • Parramatta Mission 119 Macquarie Street Parramatta

We invite everyone to wear an Olive Ribbon as a sign that you are committed to bringing Sydney together. You could invite others in your workplace, church, family to wear them too.

Imagine if you invited organised to speak at your church or temple, or at your work Christmas about the Ribbon and what it means and invited others to wear one?

If you are very enthusiastic, you could go to Spotlight or Lincraft and make your own and hand them out. We encourage people to take this idea and make it happen!

We encourage you to wear your Olive Ribbon every day in the lead up to Christmas. And beyond!


2. Sign up to the “Racism it stops with me” campaign

The “Racism it stops with me” campaign was launched by the Human Rights Commission in 2012. It invites all Australians to reflect on what they can do to counter racism wherever it happens. It invites individuals and/or organisations to endorse the campaign as a sign of their commitment to stop racism.

You can find more information on how the campaign works and what you can do here and individuals and organisations can register to join the campaign here.


3. Racism register – incidents in the community and the media

Just two weeks ago, the Online Hate Prevention Institute launched “Fight against Hate” – an online hate reporting and monitoring tool. It can be used by anti-hate activists from anywhere in the world to report online hate speech. The reporting process then allows a group of researchers at the Institute to help work on the removal of the content, and to monitor any trends in hate speech.

The tool is very sophisticated and took years to develop. It is based on crowd-sourcing, like social media.

Fight against Hate provides an alternative space for people to report hate language, and helps make this data accessible outside of social media companies. NGOs and academics can use the system to get raw data on online hate which they can then study. The tool will help uncover the quantity and nature of online hate, uncover trends and allow experts to build effective strategies, theories and response policies,

You can see more about the site here. If you are an NGO or organisation and would like to become an organizational supporter, click here.


4. Become a Friend of the Sydney Alliance and support our work in rebuilding civil society

If you are wanting to play a bigger role in helping to create and strengthen connections across Sydney’s diverse community you could become a Sydney Alliance financial supporter by signing up to be a Friend of the Sydney Alliance.

Friends contribute as little $10 a month, or $120 a year to help provide resources that helps the Alliance connect, train and mentor community leaders from across the city. Those leaders are then supported to help make the city a better place.

Friends receive regular updates about Sydney Alliance activities, and the opportunity to attend special Sydney Alliance and Friends of the Sydney Alliance events.

You can sign up as a Friend of the Sydney Alliance here.

It has been a difficult week for everyone in the city. But alongside the sadness I have a great sense of hope that people want to unite, connect and care for each other. I hope these ideas can help you channel your sorrow and hope into activity that can make a difference to our city.


Amanda Tattersall
Coalition Director, Sydney Alliance

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