Press Releases

    Note No. 5845
    4 February 2004

    Note to Correspondents

    DPI and International Public Relations Association to Honour Publicity Campaigns from Australia, China and Israel

    NEW YORK, 3 February (UN Headquarters) -- Yarra City Council will receive the 2003 United Nations Grand Award for outstanding achievement in public relations for its intensive grass-roots campaign to allow East Timorese immigrants to remain in Australia.  Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, will present the Award on 5 February 2004 at a reception at the Union League Club in New York City.

    Jointly sponsored by the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), the annual award was established in 1990 to recognize excellence in public relations campaigns that address priority issues of the United Nations.

    The 2003 Grand Award goes to Yarra City Council, with Socom, for Common Sense for East Timorese:  Let Them Stay!  When Indonesia controlled East Timor, now the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, 1,650 East Timorese fled to Australia where they had ambiguous residency status.  After more than a decade, in January 2003, the national Government notified them that they had been rejected for permanent residency and would be required to leave Australia.  The former mayor of Melbourne’s City of Yarra, where most of the East Timorese immigrants lived, enlisted Socom to launch a campaign on their behalf.  Together, they lobbied the Federal Minister for Immigration through a media and community activism campaign that focused on East Timorese children who had grown up in Australia.  Within five months, the Minister announced that he would use his discretion to allow most of the immigrants to stay.  The campaign demonstrated the power of local government to influence a national agenda on grass-roots issues affecting their communities.

    In addition to the Grand Award, two campaigns were selected for honourable mention.  One goes to Special Olympics China, with Burson-Marsteller, Beijing, for Shanghai Wins 2007 Special Olympics Games:  Breaking Down Cultural Barriers and Making Dreams Come True.  Special Olympics International provides sports training and athletic competition in Olympic-type sports for children and adults with mental retardation, providing them with opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and interact with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.  Though active in China for many years, Special Olympics had made little headway in penetrating the Chinese education system, health system and philanthropic establishment, and public awareness of mental retardation remained quite low.  The campaign aligned the Special Olympics movement with the International Olympic Committee and Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.  As a result, China won its bid to host the 2007 World Special Olympics Summer Games, and Special Olympics participants in China increased by 40 per cent.

    An honourable mention also goes to the Israel Cancer Association (ICA), with Gitam Porter Novelli, for 333 Women Every Month, a campaign to raise breast cancer awareness.  Breast cancer is the leading serious illness among Israeli women.  Four thousand cases are diagnosed every year, and one in 10 women may succumb to it during their lifetime; but early detection can save lives.  While the ICA was committed to increasing the number of women screened for breast cancer, in recent years public apathy and media lethargy had made it increasingly difficult to get the message out.  The centrepiece of this campaign was an exhibit in the courtyard of the Tel Aviv Museum, featuring 333 identical life-size figurines of women.  The figurines were painted pink, a color identified with the ongoing fight against breast cancer, and each had one hand placed on the breast to signify the importance of self-examination.  Thousands of people viewed the exhibit over seven days.  It was well covered by the media, and resulted in a significant increase over earlier years of women being screened for breast cancer.

    For more information, please call (212) 963-7346.

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