(New York) – The Australian government’s decision to list Human Rights Watch’s Australian affiliate, Human Rights Watch Australia, as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR), is a welcome step, Human Rights Watch said. The specific listing, which was enacted on June 28, 2013, in legislation by parliament, will enable HRWA to offer its supporters in Australia the ability to make tax deductible donations and ensure the charity is able to operate sustainably into the future.

“We are very pleased that the government has listed Human Rights Watch Australia as a Deductible Gift Recipient, so we can become a permanent member of the national human rights community,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director. “Human Rights Watch doesn’t accept government money but relies entirely on private philanthropy, so having DGR status is critical to our new Australia office.”

Human Rights Watch is a non-profit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of some 400 staff members around the globe. The staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and 47 nationalities. Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media to highlight human rights abuses, and targeted advocacy to bring them to an end. It works in close partnership with local human rights groups worldwide. Each year, Human Rights Watch publishes some 100 reports and hundreds more briefings on human rights conditions in approximately 90 countries, generating extensive coverage in national and international media. Because of their expertise, Human Rights Watch researchers and analysts are often asked to brief governments, the United Nations, and journalists.

Human Rights Watch has long engaged with the Australian government on domestic and foreign policy matters in Canberra, and in Australian embassies. Australia has been a longstanding proponent of human rights, especially in the Asia-Pacific region but also around the world. Indeed, its growing global prominence on human rights is underscored by its long record of supporting the UN human rights treaties and mechanisms, its contributions to UN peacekeeping, and its current membership on the UN Security Council.

“Our new Australia affiliate will allow Human Rights Watch to work much more closely with the government, on Australia’s international obligations and on its ability to persuade other countries to respect the same,” Roth said.

Human Rights Watch is also pleased to announce that Elaine Pearson will be the new director for Human Rights Watch Australia, which will be based in Sydney. Pearson, an Australian national from Perth, will take up her position in late August 2013, at which point Human Rights Watch Australia will officially launch and become operational. In 2007, Pearson was appointed deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, supervising work across Asia. She has regularly briefed journalists, government officials, and senior UN staff.

Pearson, an expert on human trafficking and migration issues, has worked for the International Labour Organization and the UN Development Fund for Women, and led the first trafficking program at Anti-Slavery International in London. She writes frequently for numerous publications, and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, and Human Rights Quarterly. Pearson holds degrees in law and arts from Australia’s Murdoch University and recently completed a masters degree in public policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“It’s an incredible honor to be launching Human Rights Watch’s affiliate in Australia,” Pearson said. “I look forward to working with our local supporters, especially our new Australia Committee, to build a strong Human Rights Watch presence in Australia and the region.”