Susan Gilbey Bremen Peace Award Recipient of 2009



Sheba Wiafe

What has happened since then?

Susan Gilbey is from Australia, and she was more than honored to get the Bremer Peace Award in 2009 in the category “The Unknown Peace Worker”. She said it made her change for the better. And what she meant by that was, that by getting the Peace Award she opened herself up for different views and approaches.

That is the reason why she shifted her focus from refugees and aborigines to climate change, and the impact that it has especially on poor people, women and children. However, what she points out is, that everything is connected if it is climate change, peace, social right, economical welfare, human rights or even education. Everything is connected. And although she shifted her focus to climate change, she still deals with all the topics as well. Because it’s inevitable.

With the money she received along with the Peace Award in 2009, she funded her travels to Bangladesh. When I asked her why she was working on climate change in Bangladesh, she answered, that the people there would be already very affected by it. Some villages and cities are already swept away. She has been in Bangladesh and other Asian-Pacific regions several times, even though she has a disability and is already elderly. Nobody doubted her commitment. They were impressed, and it gave her credibility. So Susan Gilbey built up a network in Bangladesh. A network that is bound by trust, in order that they can still work with one another when she is in Australia.

Sue GilbeyThe people in Bangladesh were used to predicting when a cyclone would hit, but due to the climate change they can’t anymore. A lot of problems come with that, and this is what Susan Gilbey does for the people there: she gives them another perspective on different topics connected with the climate change like safety issues or sustainable housing, for example. In addition, she gives the voiceless a voice. She addresses the issues that should already be handled by the government.

On top of that, Susan Gilbey is still active in Australia as well. She is still working with refugees in Australia, but the situation has worsened over the years. The Australian government has adopted the ‘PNG solution’, that sends all asylum seekers coming by boat to immigrant detention facilities on islands away from the mainland. And those islands can only be visited with a special approval. Some of the refugees are being kept there forever, and others are being born in those facilities. There have been several demonstrations in all the big cities, but it still keeps Susan Gilbey from giving them legal advice.

Nevertheless, she is still very active in Australia, just in 2012, she founded an organization called ‘Just Sustainability Australia’. It works broadly in the area of anthropogenic climate change and its human rights implications. She has also expanded her horizon in other ways. She is a screenplay writer now as well. There have been already two plays and the latest one is being produced. All of them are about passionate issues. The latest one is about the shocking outcome of the Aborigines.

Now when I asked her, in which way the award changed her reputation, she said internationally it was acknowledged, and she got congratulations but locally, in Australia, it wasn’t even recognized.

Susan Gilbey is a very passionate person and she is well aware of the fact the she as white person in an economically stable country and has it good all in all. But that is the reason that made her think twice about it. There are too many people suffering under inequality and she wants to do something that matters to them and this is also the reason why we gave in 2009 the Bremer Peace Award. She earned it and we are still proud to call her a Peace Price recipient.

Peace Award Winner Sue Gilbey: