A MEAA initiative established in 2005, the Media Safety & Solidarity Fund 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.
In past years, MSSF has helped fund the education of the children of slain journalists – in Fiji, Nepal and the Philippines – including the journalists murdered in the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre (pictured above). MSSF has also supported press freedom campaigns and activities in the region including journalist safety training and human rights advocacy. More recently, MSSF has provided assistance to journalists fleeing Afghanistan and Myanmar. MSSF remains one of the few examples of inter-regional support and cooperation among journalists across the globe. Please support the work of the fund by making a donation – using the DONATE button above.
The Media Safety & Solidarity Fund trustees direct the International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific to implement projects to be funded by the MSSF. The fund’s trustees are Karen Percy, MEAA Media section’s federal president; the two national MEAA Media vice-presidents, Leigh Tonkin and Erin Delahunty; two MEAA Media federal councillors, Stefan Armbruster and Kathy McLeish; and Brent Edwards representing New Zealand’s journalists’ union, the E tū, which also supports the fund.
A key contribution to the fund is made by MEAA members as a result of enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations – members contribute the initial increase to their pay that they have won in their new agreement. There have also been other main fundraising activities: 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.
During the year, the Media Association blong Vanuatu (MAV) sought personal protective equipment for Vanuatu journalists so that they could continue to report and keep their communities informed of essential news and information in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MSSF provided $500 towards the purchase of 100 face masks from Mamma’s Laef, a local charity producing reusable face masks, providing support for a local business given the loss of tourism that had devastated the Vanuatu economy. The 2021-2022 report will be available shortly.
In 2022, MSSF aided Afghan women journalists who were forced to go into hiding or to flee the country after the Taliban takeover. In conjunction with Network of Women in Media, India and Associated Press (AP), a fundraiser entitled Journalists for Afghanistan, raised money by selling prints of AP photographers’ images of Afghanistan. MSSF distributed funds to 43 Afghan women journalists in Afghanistan, and Pakistan and Turkey where some had fled to safety.
MSSF also helped a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who had fled Afghanistan and who was on a temporary Crisis Visit Visa in New Zealand and unable to work. MSSF supplied two months’ rent while he awaited the processing of his application to move to the United States.
Image: Afghan children enjoy the view overlooking Kabul Image by Pulitzer Prize-winner Anja Niedringhaus who was killed in Afghanistan on April 4, 2014. Credit: AP and Journalists for Afghanistan fundraiser
In 2022, MSSF supported two Ukrainian journalists who needed short-term assistance to get established in Australia following the Russian invasion of their country.
Also in 2022, MEAA via MSSF provided financial and other assistance to 25 TV journalists at EMTV in Papua New Guinea. On February 25, 2022, MEAA’s National Media Section committee condemned the termination of the journalists who walked off the job in support of a colleague, amid allegations EMTV had engaged in intimidation and political interference. The committee resolved: “MEAA stands in solidarity with the journalists.” MEAA called on EMTV executive management to reinstate the journalists on full pay and guarantee EMTV’s editorial independence.
The affected staff sought financial support from the MSSF to challenge their suspension and dismissal under sections of the PNG constitution which deal with media freedom and freedom of expression and under the Employment Act 1978 (Division 4A Written Contracts) and Employer clause (Breach of Contract). On March 25, 2022, MSSF agreed to make payments to support the affected staff, and to assist with legal fees.
On May 12, 2022, MSSF agreed to support a Pulitzer Prize-winning Afghan photographer/journalist residing in Wellington, New Zealand, pending the outcome of his application for a Green Card to work in the US. The photographer had fled Afghanistan in 2022 and was in New Zealand on a Crisis Visit Visa which meant he could not work. He sought limited financial assistance for housing and health costs for a short time as he waited for the Americans to process his case. MSSF agreed to provide assistance through E tū, the New Zealand journalists’ union, which would also provide other forms of support for the photojournalist.
Since the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, independent journalism there has been forced underground. Journalists have been beaten and shot, at least 85 have been arrested, more than 40 detained and several jailed for up to three years. Independent media outlets have been stripped of their licences to operate, and dozens of warrants have been issued for the arrest of other journalists.
Burmese journalists are in hiding not only in Myanmar but elsewhere in the region, seeking safety from persecution and violence. However, Thailand has just sentenced three Burmese journalists to seven months jail and fined them for entering the country.
Despite all these risks, Burmese journalists courageously continue to work underground in Myanmar or Thailand to ensure the crimes of the military junta are revealed to the rest of the world.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance is working with the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand to provide emergency financial support to exiled Burmese journalists working on the Thai-Burma border. Please help with a small donation through the Media Safety & Solidarity Fund.
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.
|Balance as at July 1||67,901||42,783|
|Funds raised during the year||1,797||52,738|
|Payments made during the year||(1,000)||(27,620)|
|Balance as at June 30||68,698||67,901|