Who we are
Who is ChilOut?
In July 2005 the ChilOut celebrated the removal of children from immigration detention and we all shared in the honour of being awarded the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's Organisation (Community) Award on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2005. Following a hiatus, the Board re-convened as numbers of children in detention again began to grow. We communicate via regular teleconferences and constant emails. Since late 2011 we have raised sufficient funds to employ a part-time Campaign Director, keeping her on is dependent on donations received!
Dianne Hiles is our Chaira and was mother to a four year old and working as a project manager in IT when the 4 Corners exposé of the physical and psychological breakdown of 6 year old Shayan Badrai, detained in Villawood and Woomera for two years, was screened in August 2001. She was a founding member of a group of concerned parents and citizens that met in response to the program and went on to become ChilOut. Dianne is involved in other NGOs; a long term supporter of Amnesty International and was elected to the Board of A Just Australia in April 2006 and was its Chair for the two years prior to its merger with the Refugee Council of Australia. In August 2010 she completed a Masters in Human Rights at the University of Sydney and was awarded an AM for services to the community – about the same time it became necessary to revive ChilOut as over 1,000 child asylum seekers were again detained indefinitely in inappropriate immigration detention facilities. Dianne is presently The Greens candidate for the seat of Sydney.
Alanna Hector is a lawyer, a past diplomat and played a major role in researching and writing the 2004 HREOC Report "A last resort?" the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. She set up a group of ChilOut Youth Ambassadors to both mentor others and inform the community about their experiences. Alanna's knowledge of people and issues involved in this arena is vast. Alanna is an extremely competent advocate and mother of two.
Alison Harris became ChilOut's treasurer in 2012 but has been involved with ChilOut in some way or another since it's 2001 inception. Alison studied Politics and French at the University of Sussex in the UK, emigrtating to Australia in 1988 after many years of working in London in the field of Human Resources. She was a Board member of 'Friends of MS', an offshoot of the MS Society for many years. Alison has a partner and teenage son with whom she has travelled extensively and visited many of the countries that asylum seeker children have fled from.
Therese Cochrane became ChilOut's Secretary in 2012. Therese is a lawyer who has studied and worked in Australia and England. Her work in private practice and in-house has been in the commercial field. Her interest in human rights commenced while at university, when she was an avid letter writer for Amnesty International campaigns. While raising a young family, Therese became involved with Balmain for Refugees and made many submissions to the Minister applying for consideration under sections 417A and 48B of the Migration Act. Therese's main role in ChilOut is to look after regulatory and governance issues.
Jessica Perini is an editor, and a published writer specialising in the topics of refugees and the environment. She is also a permaculture designer and a historian. Jessica has been with ChilOut since 2003, has been a Board Member for three years and is a coordinator of ChilOut's social media presence. As founder of Permaculture for the People she has sourced scholarships, volunteer opportunities and work for asylum seekers within sustainable endeavours. Jessica has been a volunteer with the Asylum Seekers Centre in Sydney for over ten years.
Sophie Peer comes to ChilOut with years of experience as a Campaign Coordinator for Amnesty International Australia and Communications Manager for the Refugee Council of Australia. Sophie's career began at the Migration Review Tribunal and so couples her passion for humane treatment of asylum seekers with practical experience of the Migration Act and the Department of Immigration! Sophie is ChilOut's only paid staff member (she's part time), and we want to keep her, so help us out!