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I am currently doing my Masters in Development Studies at UNSW. I first become passionate about international change on a volunteer trip to Nepal in 2002. Upon returning I set up a charity from Australia with a Nepalese street boy and we worked together to sponsor potential run away children from his remote village in Langtang region. I finished a music degree and became a teacher, eventually returning to Nepal to continue this work (... after some years of disruption including broken bones and wheelchairs). In Nepal I also worked with different orphanages, HIV/AIDs shelters, street kids, unaccompanied children of prisoners, Tilganga eye centre as well as filming and compiling short dramas made by children's clubs about traditional health practices and girl trafficking to India. Recently I was living in Singapore and had the chance to be involved with many local SE Asian projects including disaster relief, education of slum children, children's homes, environmental groups, migrant women's shelters and cultural centres for traditional music. I returned to Australia at the start of this year to study and I plan to continue working abroad once I finish this degree. On home soil, I am a big supporter of Aboriginal issues and wrote and performed many political songs including "Freedom Rides" which was used in the documentary reenacting Charlie Perkin's historic bus journey. The song was also performed with acoustic Indigenous group The Stiff Gins. I have been involved with refugee issues for many years, in particular, working with children who previously lived in Villawood under the Howard years. While immobile and jobless after a broken leg, I was a participant of a surprisingly productive Centrelink project scripting, filming and acting in a short film about Ethiopian refugees settling into Australia and accessing government services. It was a lot of fun to make and was approved by UNHCR to be shown in refugee camps in East Africa. During June/July semester break I went to Christmas Island and worked with asylum seekers mostly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq which was a very humbling and important experience for me. Apart from that, I love walking hand in hand on sunset beaches, coconuts, tropical flowers and sandy reggae bars and I hope to share skills, knowledge and discussions with YOU. Laura.

FPIC and Indonesia: Indigenous Forest Rights in Development Indigenous 

FPIC and Indonesia: Indigenous Forest Rights in Development

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is the right of Indigenous people to reach meaningful community consensus over developers or other interested parties use of indigenous customary land. Laura has recently developed a keen interest in this field while researching indigenous people's role in benefit sharing agreements from development projects in various provinces of Indonesia. In this post, she explores... Continue reading
Ciclovia and the pursuit of non-pollutant happyness Environment 

Ciclovia and the pursuit of non-pollutant happyness

‘Traffic jams’ and ‘air pollution’ appear to be phrases synonymous with both developing and developed urban life. Mothers who smoke while pregnant actually cause less risks to their unborn child than if they were to live and breathe in Mexico city. Pollution in Mexico City increases the chance of suffering from depressed lungs and early and low weight births rates. Among... Continue reading
What Happened to Advancing Australia Fair? Migration 

What Happened to Advancing Australia Fair?

Laura O'Neill recently returned from working with asylum seekers in Christmas Island. She was teaching mostly Afghani, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Iraqi and Kurdish students, but it was the deeply symbolic vocabulary, passion and rich literary traditions shared by one Afghani student that inspired her to express her feelings through free prose/poetry. Laura's highlight of her experience was building relationships with... Continue reading