Volunteer spotlight: Mirella from Public Policy and Advocacy

Volunteers article written on the 06 Oct 2015

Volunteer with Oxfam and make a huge difference to people living in poverty like Mirella

Mirella volunteers her specialised skills in the Public Policy and Advocacy unit to help empower communities affected by extractive industries.

After completing her PhD on social responsibility in mining at the University of Queensland, Mirella joined Oxfam’s Melbourne office.

Mirella tells us about why she volunteers with Oxfam:

I’m a lawyer, and I have been doing academic research in the topic of mining, social justice, and community development for the last five years. I’m from Brazil, and have been involved with Amazonian traditional communities for many years. The mining industry is affecting an increasing number of communities in the Amazon region, and I became interested in researching how we can empower communities to better articulate and negotiate their interests with mining companies.

Oxfam’s work on extractive industries has always been a central reference for me. For more than 15 years Oxfam Australia has done advocacy work in the extractive sector, influencing companies and governments’ social performance, and empowering communities to participate in decision making processes.

As a Mining Advocacy volunteer, I am undertaking research for a project about mining, gender, and social justice. I am currently working on a piece that builds the business case for why extractive industries should implement gender sensitive engagement processes to better listen to the voices of women impacted by their operations, and to ensure women’s participation in decision-making processes.

I’m really passionate about the practical and engaging work Oxfam does on social justice. My parents have always been engaged in social work, so I grew up with a deep passion for helping people in poverty to have better lives. I have found in Oxfam a place to use my skills to keep contributing to this aim. I like the working environment, and the opportunity to engage with people who have similar interests when it comes to working towards a more sustainable and fairer society.

In the future, I’d like to keep doing applied research to empower communities affected by extractive industries, and to improve the way companies and governments are mitigating impacts and relating to local communities. When I’m not volunteering, I like being in nature, travelling, practicing yoga and listening to live music.

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