The Southern Cross University Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) graduate, from Ashmore on the Gold Coast, is one of a new generation of young people hoping to become international peace mediators.
Jane believes there are still far too few mediators who are experienced practitioners in conflict resolution and that there is an urgent need to produce another generation of people who can play a mediating role in the future.
Jane has just been named one of 60 Rotary World Peace Fellows who are being supported to study peace and conflict resolution at the Masters degree level.
The program was created as part of Rotary’s ongoing effort to promote greater tolerance and cooperation among people worldwide.
Jane will attend the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, USA – one of the six Rotary Centres for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution – where she will study international relations, with a focus on the roots of conflict and successful solutions to the world’s problems.
Living and working in Cambodia and Bangladesh have deepened Jane’s commitment to peace and community development. In 2002, Jane was selected as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development and worked as a project advisor with the Association of the Blind in Cambodia.
It was there that Jane experienced first hand the shocking impact of acid attacks on women.
“Acid is thrown most often by men, but sometimes it is by other women, as a ‘payback’ for love, property and money disputes or to disfigure a rival,” said Jane, who has spent several years living in countries where acid attacks are an everyday reality.
“Most survivors become scarred for life and some are even blinded. It is a vicious cultural phenomenon that only began in modern times.”
So moved was she by the plight of victims that Jane helped establish a support group for acid attack survivors and she has returned several times to continue her research and work, and to present papers at international conferences.
Through these experiences Jane developed a wider interest in human rights issues, she said.
On completion of her degree at Southern Cross University last year, Jane worked with the Acid Survivors Foundation, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, conducting research on the development of sensitive and sustainable interventions for acid attack survivors and their family members.
This work supported her selection as a Rotary World Peace Scholar and Jane said she felt ‘highly honoured’ to have been chosen.
“I hope to use my skills, knowledge and passion to make a difference in the world to promote peace and conflict resolution,” she said.
The first four classes of Rotary World Peace Fellows have graduated, and are now working in high-level positions at prestigious organisations such as the United Nations, the European Parliament, Interpol, USAid, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Organisation of American States.
Photo: Jane Welsh nurses the baby of an acid attack survivor receiving treatment at the Acid Survivors Foundation Hospital in Bangladesh.
Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.