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IEP and Ethiopian Multicultural Action for Human Rights (EMAHR) organised a collaborative Positive Peace Workshop in association with Multicultural NSW. Despite the difficulties of travel restrictions and lockdowns, members from the Ethiopian Multicultural Action for Human Rights (EMAHR) community in New South Wales (NSW) came together to participate in two online workshops to learn about how Positive Peacecould be used to build community resilience towards the widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This successful initiative saw the creation and promotion of health resources translated from English into the languages of Amharic, Oromo, and Anywaa. These materials explained COVID-19 safety precautions, procedures, and regulations; and included guidance on how to self-isolate, social distancing rules, government restrictions, and a demonstrative video guide on how to complete a Rapid Antigen Test.

Facilitated by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), participants were introduced to IEP’s world-renowned peace research with a focus on bespoke data and the impacts of COVID-19 on global peace. IEP describes Positive Peace as being comprised of the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin a peaceful society. It is a systems-based approach which is measured through the strength of the eight Positive Peace Pillars. Positive Peace contrasts with Negative Peace, which is defined as the absence of violence or the fear of violence.

After being introduced to IEP’s Positive Peace Framework, participants interactively engaged with the eight Pillars of Positive Peace, identifying and implementing activities to keep communities connected and to support their members’ physical and mental well-being.

With the intention of building social cohesion over 2,000 people were leveraged from existing community networks to promote these resources to their diaspora through community leaders, elders, religious leaders, and civic associations across Australia and overseas including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

One participant, who originates from Gambela in Ethiopia, was motivated after the workshop to engage local stakeholders (such as elders, church leaders and youth leaders) within Gambela to participate in a Positive Peace workshop.

EMAHR’s work focuses on promoting human rights, multiculturalism and a sense of belonging.

The outcomes from this program, as identified through a survey conducted by EMAHR, were driven by the participants’ collaborative efforts to produce vital health resources and included:

  • A decrease in the transmission of COVID-19 with 80% of respondents attributing their increased awareness of social distancing and safety rules to being able to read materials in their native language.
  • An increase in the number of individuals testing for COVID-19 within their communities within Australia, with 90% of respondents reporting an improvement in their understanding of the importance of testing and how to use Rapid Antigen Tests.
  • An increase in vaccination rates among their community members in Western Sydney, particularly in the Blacktown and Cumberland local government areas. Numerous respondents reported that they changed their minds and decided to get their booster vaccination after reading the translated materials.
  • Community leaders increased their capacity to deliver and support the dissemination of community-led, health communication initiatives with 90% of respondents reporting that they had explained the translated material to family and friends.

The project encouraged the communities and civic associations impacted by EMAHR’s work in building resilience to the impact of COVID-19. Based on the information collected through the surveys, these communities supported each other by making phone calls to find out how elders and vulnerable people were coping within their community. This project encouraged these communities to keep connected through Zoom meetings and social media, which reduced social isolation and strengthened community resilience. 90% of respondents agreed that the project built stronger resilience and confidence among their community.

Made possible by the support of Multicultural NSW, this program included participants from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo who worked together to produce these valuable resources. This successful workshop assisted these communities within Australia to build resilience to the impacts of both the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts which have added additional stress to these communities. The outcomes of this project serve as inspiration for further collaborative efforts that can facilitate the activation of Positive Peace.

Learn more about IEPs Peace Programs.

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Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.