The Media Safety and Solidarity Fund, a MEAA initiative, is supported by donations from Australian journalists and media personnel to assist colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region through times of emergency, war and hardship.
The fund trustees direct the International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific to implement projects to be funded by the MSSF. The fund’s trustees are Stuart Washington, national MEAA Media section president; the two national MEAA Media vice-presidents, Gina McColl and Michael Janda; two MEAA Media federal councillors, Ben Butler and Alana Schetzer; and Brent Edwards representing New Zealand’s journalists’ union, the EPMU, which also supports the fund.
Aside from contributions made by MEAA members as a result of enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations, the other main fundraising activities of the fund are the annual Press Freedom Australia dinners, auctions and raffles; and the gala presentation dinner for the annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism. In 2014 and again in 2015, Japan’s public broadcasting union Nipporo also made contributions to the fund.
Current projects of the MSSF include:
The MSSF provides financial support to the children of slain journalists in the Philippines for education costs.
In the 2015-16 school year, the MSSF program supported 65 students, including 24 sons and daughters of journalists murdered in the Massacre. The children supported by MSSF receive financial support for their tuition and a small stipend for education costs, with the fund covering students from primary school through to college.
Nepal’s transition to democracy after a violent coup in 2005 has been nurtured by the hard work of the independent journalism community and journalists’ organisations. In the 2016 school year the MSSF supported 31 students with financial support for education costs.
The MSSF also supported a vacation camp, bringing together the students from across Nepal. The camp was held on April 21-23 in Pokhara, bringing together the students and their families. The camp included local sight-seeing and visits to local attractions.
During the camp, the children also attended a trauma counseling session that was funded by MSSF after the devastating earthquakes in 2015.
In December 2015, the MSSF granted financial support to a student to purchase equipment to work as a journalist in Nepal. At the end of 2015, the student graduated from college. Read more on the IFJ Asia-Pacific website.
Following the death in November 2015 of photographer Sitiveni Moce, five years of educational support was granted to his son. Sitiveni Moce, then working for the Fiji Times, was seriously injured when he was assaulted by soldiers during Fiji’s 2007 military coup, and never fully recovered. The support started in 2016 and will run until 2020.
The MSSF provided financial support to a veteran journalist and activist, to assist with medical bills after she was diagnosed with cancer and unable to work during her treatment.
Following the deadly Nepal earthquake in April and May 2015, the MSSF provided financial support through the Federation of Nepali Journalists, to the families of the victims and the journalists affected. The MSSF support also funded a two-day trauma counseling workshop for journalists from across Nepal, which was held in February 2016.
After Cyclone Pam in March 2016, the MSSF granted financial support for the Vanuatu media, through the Media Association blong Vanuatu. The support assisted 11 journalists, and also funded a workshop for local media to develop better disaster reporting skills.
The fund continues to support a press freedom monitoring project in China. Run by IFJ Asia-Pacific, it is jointly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.
In February 2016, the MSSF support of the Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka ended. The MSSF had financially supported FMM, through institutional support, the strengthen the organization in post-conflict Sri Lanka.
In 2016, the MSSF granted travel support to Mr Jose Belo, the former President of the Timor Leste Press Union (TLPU) to travel and attend the IFJ Congress in Angers, France in June 2016.
The MSSF provides emergency funds for journalists in who are being threatened or harassed in the Asia-Pacific. In the past these emergency funds have been able to provide urgent legal assistance for journalists in need.
MEAA hosts the IFJ Asia-Pacific office. Its most high profile work is its human rights advocacy activities: safety alerts, press freedom reports, lobbying, coordinating press freedom campaigns, coordinating investigatory missions, and providing hands-on consultation for individual journalists in trouble. To help the office continue this work, the MSSF funds the IFJ AP’s human rights advocacy program.
The annual highlight of the Nepal Children’s Education Fund was a three-day summer camp. About 30 children are assisted through the program, which was established in 2010 to help the children of journalists who have been killed since the transition to democracy began in 2005. To date, this financial support has been $181,472 (including administration fees paid to the International Federation of Journalists).
In April and May 2015, Nepal was hit by a serious of devastating earthquakes that left 6,000 dead. The media in Nepal was forced to work in make-shift shelters. Through MSSF financial support given to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), a three-day, trauma and journalism workshop was held to better equip journalists to report during and after natural disasters. Read the full story on the IFJ Asia-Pacific website.
|All figures in Australian Dollars|
|Balance at 1 July||224,709||363,015|
|Funds raised during the year||48,505||83,249|
|Payments made during the year||-136,638||-221,555|
|Balance at 30 June||136,576||224,709|
|Funds raised during the year|
|Interest on MSSF bank account||3,434||9,179|
|Surplus on Sydney Press Freedom Australia Dinner||22,750||55,233|
|Surplus on Melbourne Press Freedom Australia Dinner||11,828||0|