5 Great New Reasons You Should Come to Melbourne Town Hall this Thursday Evening

Photo: Melbourne Town Hall

Photo: Melbourne Town Hall

Legendary refugee advocate Paris Aristotle AO is presenting the 2017 Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship to Emmanuel Jal. The Fellowship is a prestigious award that celebrates individuals doing extraordinary work in reconciliation.

Here’s 5 great reasons why you should come and see.

1.  You have never met a child soldier turned globally acclaimed musician

What’s not to admire about Emmanuel Jal? He is a former child soldier from South Sudan, an internationally acclaimed musician and recording artist, and a peace ambassador who has presented to the UN and the US Congress.

An award-winning documentary – War Child – has been made about his life. He has a global reputation as musician and peace activist and is the architect of the We Want Peace campaign which helped attract international attention to the suffering in South Sudan through the 2011 independence process.

Emmanuel has given a TED Talk, performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert and worked with Richard Branson and Angelina Jolie.

And now he's in Melbourne to receive the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship for 2017, a prestigious award that celebrates individuals doing extraordinary work in reconciliation.

2.  You think Desmond Tutu is a legend

Desmond Tutu is a social rights activist and retired Bishop from South Africa, who won the respect and admiration of people all over the world when he fought to bring down social segregation in his country.

His fans see him as a hero who, after helping to get rid of apartheid, has been busy defending human rights and protecting less fortunate people. He continues to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and trans-phobia.

Bishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He’s an absolute legend.

3.  You admire Paris Aristotle

And who doesn’t? Paris has for decades been a tireless advocate for asylum seekers and refugees. He is the CEO of Foundation House, which has built a national network of torture and trauma services, supporting people with counselling, advocacy, education, information and therapy. He has worked closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on refugee resettlement and advised both sides of politics on refugee and asylum seeker policy, and multicultural affairs.

Photo: Paris Aristotle

Photo: Paris Aristotle

Paris is awarding Emmanuel the Fellowship on behalf of Global Reconciliation. Come and listen to him talk about why we need to respect and treat fairly those people seeking a new life in this country.

And while you’re at it, you can come and meet some of the people who make up the largest South Sudanese population in Australia.

4.  You need to hear a voice of calm and peace on the world stage

Let’s face it, we can all do with a little hope right now. Two of the world’s most powerful leaders are trading insults and threatening nuclear war.  We are heading for a non-compulsory ballot on same sex marriage which is dividing the nation. And it took days before the US President denounced violence from white supremacists. We could be forgiven for wondering what the world is coming to. Or we can listen to inspiring humans remind us why there is still reason to hope in this world.

5.  You want to support Global Reconciliation and learn more about it

Since 2002, Global Reconciliation has worked collaboratively on reconciliation projects around the world, tapping into a global network of reconciliation specialists.

In Australia, we see reconciliation mainly as a way of addressing the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

More broadly, we see reconciliation as an ongoing process serving many different purposes that contribute to consolidating peace, breaking the cycle of violence, restoring justice at personal and social levels, bringing about personal healing and reparation for past injustices, and building non-violent relationships for the future.

Global Reconciliation encourages people to be respectfully different while working and doing things together. We believe that the path towards reconciliation lies in people who are different coming together to share everyday life activities such as sport, education and the arts. We seek dialogue across continuing differences.

Come and see Paris Aristotle present Emmanuel Jal with the 2017 Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship Award at the Melbourne Town Hall this Thursday evening, 24 August, at 5.30pm. Entry is free.

Nicole Newton