Dr Steven Cooke and Dr Donna-Lee Frieze attended the second bi-annual Plenary Meeting of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in Bern, Switzerland this week as appointed Australian experts.
Press Release: IHRA Upgrades Australia
On Thursday in Bern, Switzerland, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an inter-governmental body with 31 member countries, unanimously agreed to upgrade Australia’s status in the organisation from Observer to Liaison status. The decision follows three years of engagement by Australian diplomats and experts under the leadership of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and encouragement from Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to deepen that engagement.
Consideration of Australia’s upgrade in status included a review of Holocaust education, research and memorialisation. The review was undertaken by Australia’s experts to IHRA, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and diplomats from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Human Rights Branch. The level of Holocaust education activity in Australia was praised by members of IHRA..
Ambassador Lynette Wood, head of Australia’s delegation to IHRA and Australian Ambassador to Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, welcomed the decision and highlighted the education programs run by Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre and the Sydney Jewish Museum, as well as the Gandel Holocaust Studies program under which over 220 teachers have attended expert training in Holocaust education at Yad Vashem.
Australia was mentored through the application process by the delegation of the United Kingdom, led by Sir Eric Pickles the UK’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues. The mentorship will continue as Australia moves towards full membership of IHRA, a process which will include the implementation of new projects of education, commemoration and research into the Holocaust in partnership with leading international institutions.