Norfolk Island image from The Sydney Morning Herald
Norfolk Island has become the first territory in the world to pin its hopes of self-government and a democratic future on crowdfunding.
The island in the south Pacific Ocean is seeking to raise $275,000 through fundrazr.com to part-fund a petition to the United Nations to be accorded protective rights as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, allowing the islanders to determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Andre Nobbs, spokesperson for the Norfolk Island People for Democracy Limited (NIPD), said Norfolk was fighting back against a hostile, and illegal, takeover.
“Against the wishes of an overwhelming majority on-island, we are on the cusp of losing our culture, heritage and identity because the Australia government wants greater access to our Economic Exclusion Zone and natural resources,” Mr Nobbs said.
“Australian interests have already surveyed for oil and natural gas and we fear they’ll wreck our eco-system hunting for oil when it’s an outdated commodity. The world is moving on from fossil fuels. Australia should too.”
As a volunteer committee standing up to the 12th biggest economy in the world the NIPD values influential support and FundRazr was a perfect partner given its success with community-oriented causes.
Founded in 2010, FundRazr has helped raise more than $80 million from over 60,000 campaigns in dozens of countries around the world and CEO Daryl Hatton is determined to provide Norfolk Island with the support to meet its fundraising goals.
“We are excited to see Norfolk Island become the first territory in the world to use crowdfunding to help defend its sovereignty,” Mr Hatton said. “Crowdfunding is all about people working together to solve funding problems. In this case, it allows concerned citizens all around the world to support the people of Norfolk Island in their fight to defend their rights.”
Nobbs says the island has a message for the world: “Whether you’re a believer in democracy, a champion for the little guy, a crusader for justice or an advocate for a threatened environment, you have the chance to put your hand up for an issue that truly matters.
“Please go to fundrazr.com/HandsUpForNorfolk and put your hand up to save our home.”
The genesis for the Hands Up campaign theme was last year’s community-led development of the Field Of Hands in Burnt Pine, a patch of grass containing a trove of green hands, each signed by a Norfolk Islander threatened by the Australian government’s actions in taking over control of the island. The theme has resonated on Norfolk, most recently at a community meeting on Monday night attended by more than 400+ people, just under a quarter of the total population.
Nobbs is confident the funds raised will allow NIPD to strengthen a compelling case to the United Nations to regain their democratic rights.
“We’re sorry we’ve had to ask the world for a hand, but the Australian government won’t engage with us, so we have been left with very few options. The exploitation has to stop.”
Mr Nobbs said the crowdfunding campaign would be divided into two parts - firstly, funds to assist the development and delivery of Norfolk Island’s petition to the United Nations to become a Non-Self-Governing Territory and, secondly, the evaluation and implementation of compelling legal action, if necessary, to return the island’s democratic rights. If the latter was not needed, a second campaign would be cancelled and any leftover funds would be put in trust to assist other small islands to fight for their indigenous rights.
“It’s criminal that we have been forced to fight for rights that are inalienably ours anyway, but if we can achieve our goal of freedom and inspire others in the process, it will have been a battle worth undertaking.”
For further information please contact:
Andre Nobbs, tel +6723 50273, email firstname.lastname@example.org and Skype HandsUp4Norfolk
Websites - Please feel free to jump on our website for background information and archived material, including media releases and rights-free images:
Hands Up Website = www.handsupfornorfolkisland.realstew.com
Twitter = @HandsUp4Norfolk
Facebook = www.facebook.com/handsupfornorfolk
Norfolk Island People for Democracy Limited (NIPD) Website = www.norfolkschoice.com