Amnesty International (AI) are a non-partisan, non-denominational, global movement of people who ‘campaign courageously for human rights’. Established in London (UK) in 1961, by lawyer Peter Benenson, the organisation currently has representation in more than 160 countries, with over 7 million worldwide members who pledge to ‘stand together for justice, freedom, human dignity and equality’.
Amnesty International Australia (AIA) is part of this global movement. In 2010, Amnesty International began to design and implement a Global Transition Program, shifting large London based operations to worldwide regional offices and sectional offices, working at a national level. ‘Sections’ are typically comprised of local community, school and university groups. At the time of
writing, Amnesty International Australia is comprised of 714 nationwide groups, governed by a member-elected National Board. According to AIA’s Annual Financial Report – 2017, the organisations total gross income for year end 31 December 2017 was $28,486,289; ninety-eight per cent of this is attributed to donations and bequests ($28,028,996.00).*
The organisation vows to ‘campaign tirelessly to end the over-representation of Indigenous young people in detention within a generation; ensure refugees and asylum seekers fleeing conflict, crisis, torture or persecution are able to lead safe and stable lives; defend and protect the human rights of
individuals at risk and ensure that civilians are protected during conflict and crisis’.
In addition to campaigning locally for Indigenous communities and people seeking asylum, AIA run a #changethedate campaign to alter the date Australia Day is celebrated, and an active women’s and LGBTI activist network campaigning on gender and sexuality issues.
Effective campaigning is achieved by mobilising AIA’s large supporter base to take action individually and in their community – writing letters, signing petitions, taking to social media, mainstream media, and online activities. During 2018, AIA ran a Write for Rights campaign. Encouraging supporters to
hold letter writing community events. 15,000 people took action.
AIA participate in policy making by preparing written submissions and placing their views on public record. During the 12-month period, 23 January 2018 – 23 January 2019, the organisation prepared six written submissions to Federal and State governments including, a submission to the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom and a submission to the Queensland Productivity Commission, Inquiry into Imprisonment and Recidivism. The most recent, to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Inquiry into Sex Discrimination Amendment Bill 2018, was tendered in January 2019.
While responsible for lobbying local government and, campaigning, fundraising and recruiting supporters within Australia, ‘sections’ are bound by the International Secretariat vision and mission and are supplied endorsed campaigning materials to ensure AI speak with one voice globally.
Locally, AIA publish an online collection of guides and resources to inform supporters and help them tap into the power of the social web to ‘raise awareness, organise, inspire action and help expand’ the movement’s reach. This includes ‘Social Media Activism – A Guide to Online Change-making’ and
a list of ‘Australia’s Top 100 Journalists and News Media People on Twitter’.
In the six-month period to December 2018, the AIA website, amnesty.org.au, received 222, 000 visits. Visitors are encouraged to ‘Make your voice heard” and ‘Become a member Today’. Amnesty International Australia also operate the website, Amnestyoz.nationbuilder.com – a campaigning tool used to lead, and communicate with highly engaged supporters.
At the time of writing, Amnesty International Australia have 341,945 Facebook followers, more than 60,700 Twitter followers, and 2,275 YouTube subscribers.
Last month (January 2019), AIA published eight social media articles, achieving a total of 152 engagements via Facebook and Twitter. The most engaged during this period was titled ‘AFC must take action to #FreeHakeem’, realising 121 of these total engagements.
For the 12-month period, 4 February 2018 – 4 February 2019, Amnesty International Australia published 193 articles with a total engagement of 17,435 via Facebook and Twitter. The average number of Facebook engagements during this 12-month period was 73 across the 193 articles, the
average number of Twitter engagements was 18. Published content focuses on a broad range of local and international issues.
The highest-ranking piece of content published on these platforms for the same period titled ‘Twitter _ stop online abuse of women – Amnesty International Australia’, achieved a total engagement of 3,700; of this, 3,400 engagements were via Facebook.
During the same period, AIA published 42 YouTube videos; the most viewed titled, ‘What is community sponsorship for refugees?’, posted March 2018, has, been viewed more than 1,904 times; ‘Project “Dragonfly’ (urging visitors to ‘tell Google CEO Sundar Pichai to #DropDragonfly before it can be launched’ in China), records the second highest number of YouTube views (1,499). These engagement statistics seem unexpectedly low considering, for example that 15,000 people participated in AIA’s Write for Rights campaign, suggesting a strong focus on direct member engagement.