RedR Australia CEO Kirsten Sayers introduced the new Sphere Handbook to the room of humanitarians, policy makers, trainers, academics and more. Christine Knudsen, the Sphere Director, gave the keynote speech, noting that among other improvements to the new edition, a stronger focus on the role of local authorities and communities as actors of their own recovery comes through strongly as a benchmark for humanitarian activity. "This has been the most inclusive and far reaching revision so far," said Ms Knudsen.
The attendees then listened to a panel discussion chaired by Steve Darvill from DFAT, with WASH engineer and RedR Australia Board Member and Associate Trainer Nicole Hahn, Director of Humanitarian Advisory Group Kate Sutton, and Save the Children’s Head of Operations Rohan Kent.
Kate, as the co-author of the Protection chapter, spoke at length about the new Sphere Handbook’s prioritisation of protection as central principles to humanitarian action, in recognition that Protection Principles seek to enact core rights contained in the Humanitarian Charter. The new handbook makes clear that protection is everybody’s responsibility, whether a distinct protection mandate exists or not.
L-R: Steve Darvill, Kate Sutton, Rohan Kent, and Nicole Hahn during the panel discussion.
Nicole reflected on the Protection changes from the perspective of other areas of humanitarian expertise, commenting that although WASH engineers like herself are not protection experts, their input is critical to ensuring protection across communities. "Protection is not an additional responsibility, it's our job," Nicole explained.
After the panel discussion, participants broke into small groups to discuss the Sphere Handbook changes and provide feedback on new content and its implementation in humanitarian practice.
RedR Australia will be integrating the updated Sphere Handbook standards into all its future courses, especially in the Essentials of Humanitarian Practice course where participants implement Sphere minimum standards in a range of simulation exercises.
“This updated Handbook ensures we’re training the next generation of humanitarian actors in standards built on real experience, that ultimately helps us ensure that people can live with dignity even in the midst of a humanitarian crisis” said Manager of Training and Capability Mark Gossage.