APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad


In their own words“…Our work aims to build self-reliance through support to educational and training projects for workers and their organisations.”



  • APHEDA is the overseas aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
  • APHEDA has “over 40 training projects, working through 30 separate project partners in 15 countries, assisting many different communities in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Southern Africa and the Caribbean.”
  • APHEDA leads “fact-finding” trips to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, disseminating an anti-Israel narrative to Australian politicians.
    • The trip in July 2017 was scheduled to meet with Khalida Jarrar, Addameer’s former vice-chairperson. Jarrar is a senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) official and was administratively detained on April 1, 2015 by Israeli security forces. On April 15, 2015 she was indicted for various offenses including active membership in a terrorist organization (the PFLP) and inciting violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers to be used as “bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.” Jarrar accepted a plea bargain and was reportedly convicted on “one count of belonging to an illegal organization and another of incitement” receiving a 15-month prison sentence with an additional 10-month suspended sentence. She was released from prison on June 3, 2016. According to Addameer, Jarrar was re-arrested in July 2017 for six months. In December 2017, the detention was extended by another six months to July 2018.
  • In October 2019, Big Ride Australia held a bike ride to mark the “52nd anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip (the Occupied Palestinian Territories) in 1967 when 300,000 Palestinians were made refugees and their villages ethnically cleansed” (emphasis added). All money raised from the event was donated to APHEDA for its project with Ma’an Development Center.
    • Big Ride Australia stated its support for BDS in advertisements for the bike ride, “As we ride we promote the campaign and call for others to do the same.”
  • In December 2014, APHEDA hosted a Q&A from Gaza on “Resilience and Reconstruction,” featuring Jaber Qudyh from Ma’an Development Center and Mona el-Farra from the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
  • During a July 2, 2011 hearing of the Australian Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Legislation Committee, Senator Eric Abetz asked officials from the Australian Agency for International Development questions regarding funding to APHEDA.
    • “What are the safeguards in place that prevent AusAID funding being used by APHEDA [‘overseas humanitarian aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’] or any of the others in a manner that contravenes Australian government policy on Israel? Let us just pluck an example out of the air like BDS—Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”
    • Senator Abetz continued by identifying indirect Australian government funding via APHEDA for Ma’an Development Center, which “is heavily involved in the BDS [anti-Israel boycotts, divestment, and sanctions] campaign… On their website the Ma’an Development Center published a guide to grassroots and international BDS campaigns in 2009… and it is quite clear that the ACTU and APHEDA have no difficulty with the BDS campaign.” (Following an October 2010 hearing, where these issues were first raised, AusAid stated that “Ma’an Development Centre received approximately $1,219,320 from Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA in the 12 months to 30 April 2010.”)
    • At the same time, these organizations did not repudiate their involvement in BDS activities. APHEDA and Ma’an argued that “Palestinian civil society organisations are significant forces for democratisation, and should be free to adopt and voice policies and advocacy positions,” and that “Decisions on project funding should be made only on merit – on whether the projects are achieving the results that are contracted – rather than external political criteria.”
  • In December 2009, APHEDA was a signatory on a letter to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations calling to “boycott apartheid Israel,” “divest from State of Israel Bonds,” and “Oppose U.S. military and economic aid for Israel.”


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