Kay Danes

Kay Danes is an exceptional volunteer dedicating her life to humanitarian endeavours, cultural awareness and harmony, human rights and social justice. She is committed to improving the human condition through life saving projects aimed to alleviate suffering, while supporting and contributing to the basic human dignity of bridging communities through cultural and ethnic awareness. Her contributions are made internationally and locally.  Kay strives constantly to create a world where basic needs are treated as human rights: shelter, nutrition, education, healthcare, and employment.


Human Rights

To Kay Danes, victims of human rights are not statistics for debate and analysed in public forums, hearings, and the media. To her they are human beings with dignity, capable of feeling pains and humiliations. Kay Danes’ careful documentation of her own ordeal as a hostage in Laos underscores the need for extraordinary and difficult measures by governments to protect the lives of their citizens abroad, to stop violations of human rights and to uphold international law.

 On the political front line

Following the tragic events of December 2000 – 2001, when Kay Danes and her husband Kerry were unlawfully detained in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and subsequently when the Australian Government secured their release through an unprecedented Presidential Pardon, Kay Danes continued to raise much needed awareness for the hundreds of political prisoners remaining in Laos, and refugees in nearby borders who continue to suffer in exile from their homelands. Contributing extensive reporting over a decade, Kay Danes paved the way for Foreign Embassies and journalists to gain greater insight and access to secret prisons in Laos, thus having an influence over prison reform and access. Consequently, many political prisoners have been freed from Laos and reunited with their families in other countries.

Kay has spoken at several US Congressional Forums to highlight the plight of citizens persecuted under totalitarian regimes. Kay Danes actions in the human rights arena over the past decade alone have created a major connection between human rights movements in Australia and around the world. She has worked for both the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO UK) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Inspiring Social Justice

Kay Danes helps inspire and strengthen the moral authority and courage needed by dissidents, journalists, activists and student and religious leaders seeking to challenge the despotic one party regimes that continue to oppress, imprison and murder their own citizens and visiting foreigners who inconveniently get in their way. Kay Danes demonstrates exceptional courage to stand up to tyranny, speak truth to power, and help those suffering under the most difficult of circumstances, those who have been stripped of the most fundamental and important elements of humanity.

The National Coalition Group for the Union of Burma in Washington DC expressed its appreciation to Kay Danes for her relentless support over many years to bring the ‘Burma issues’ before the UN Security Council. Kay is regularly called upon to provide submissions and advice to organisations such as; Civil Liberties Australia, the National Human Rights Commission of Australia on the treatment of people under arrest or detained in prison, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, and to the secretary to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and torture.) Kay regularly provides expert consultation to Human Rights Lawyers and Queen’s Counsels in the United Kingdom and Australia, to support the repatriation of citizens and prisoner transfers from developing countries. Her contributions have resulted in the successful repatriation of dozens of prisoners. 

Cultural Contributions

Kay Danes has instigated a number of international campaigns to assist people in poverty. She brings these campaigns to local Australian communities in order to bridge better and broader understanding of other cultures.

Inclusive but not limited to:

Zambia:Kay has provided humanitarian aid and support to build a shelter and school for the Zambian Orphans of death row prisoners in Zambia [Africa]. Her profile has generated much needed support for the ongoing care of these orphans.

Kenya: Kay provides humanitarian assistance to African Equity based in Kenya. an Australian Based Non Government Organisation (NGO), primarily supporting the Immanuel Afrika home for boys and community development projects in Nairobi, Kenya. (African Equity)

Cambodia: In 2006, the President of the International Relief Centre, a non-profit organisation working for impoverished people in Cambodia appointed Kay Danes as an honorary Ambassador; acknowledging her expert comprehension of ethnic Asian cultures, religions, traditions and customs as vital in bridging the gap that divides east-Asian and western cultures. With Kay Danes’ assistance, the IRC built its first school in the province of Savay Rieng, servicing children of thirty-two thousand refugees living in eight surrounding villages.

Kay's profile has generated much needed support for the ongoing care of these projects and others; 'She Rescue Home’ - a secure haven for young Cambodian girls who are at risk or who have been rescued from being trafficked, and They Grey Man - an international organisation dedicated to eradicating the trafficking and exploitation of children. 

Laos: Kay Danes continues to play a vital role in raising awareness about the detainment of political prisoners in Laos and her continued lobbying to world decision makers has been pivotal in alerting the world to the persecution in Laos, the plight of its people, inclusive its refugees and Laotians living in exile, and the violations against them under international law, local Lao Law and United Nations mandates.  Significant changes have resulted in the Laos prison system and greater attention has been given by authorities to move towards prison reform, improved conditions and greater will to support consular access to prisoners, largely due to Kay’s efforts of continued lobbying. Kay was appointed an Honorary Advisor to the Executive Office of the Prime Minister representing the Royal Lao Government in Exile. She is recognised throughout the Laotian community as the most effective mover they have had, as an ally, in their long-standing struggle for freedom from persecution. She was a driving force behind the establishment of the United Lao Action Centre in Washington DC - to give a voice to those seeking to uphold the rights of victims of human rights abuses and victims of injustice. Kay Danes lobbied at several US Congressional Forums for greater consideration to new foreign investors embarking on new business ventures in Laos, to avoid some of the pitfalls of working in such a challenging environment. One of the many highlights of her advocacy was to engage the US Government, in particular, President George Bush’s direct representative, in a debate on the Normalised Trade Relations Agreement  between the US and Laos, insisting on greater protections for foreigners investing in Laos, prior to its implementation. The NTR agreement was effectively delayed until such assurances could be given.

Burma:Kay Danes has a long standing history of service to the people of Burma, promoting aid relief to support orphanages, education of women and medical treatment for all impoverished people inside Burma and in refugee camps outside Burma.

Afghanistan: Kay Danes is the Australian Liaison for the US Charity ‘The Childlight Foundation for Afghan Children’. Kay Danes provided a significant, personal financial contribution to dramatically improve the living conditions of the Nangarhar Women's Prison in Jalalabad. These women are detained mostly as victims of domestic violence. Kay Danes ongoing contributions have enabled the renovation of a fully functional literary centre at the prison that provides Afghan women and children an invaluable educational opportunity. Kay supports an extensive humanitarian projects list designed to improve the lives of the Afghan people, particularly the women and children. Inclusive, Kay raises funds to support reading rooms, Orphanages and schools. She contributes to the public awareness of the Youth in Action Association (YIAA) T20 Cricket Tournament against narcotics, to raise public awareness on narcotics and to raise youth voices against narcotics in the eastern region of Afghanistan. Kay Danes vigorously pursues recognition for disabled centres working to improve the quality of life for Afghan men, women and children in desperate need of rehabilitative care.

As part of the Childlight Foundation team, Kay was a key presenter to the Women's Community Health Seminar in the Jalalabad ILC International Learning Center. She travelled with the Childlight Foundation team from outer provinces to share her experiences as a survivor of torture.Together they delivered valuable learning resources from Australia and America to the Jalalabad International Learning Centre, Nangarhar University and Nangarhar Women’s Prison in Afghanistan. These were gratefully received by the Head of the Jalalabad ILC, the Chancellor of the University, and the Head of the Women’s Correction Service. In the province of Herat, Kay and the Childlight Foundation team contributed to the purchase of baby formula, food and teaching supplies for a locally isolated village deep in Taliban heartland.

During her visit to Afghanistan, Kay and the Childlight Foundation team met with various US State Department representatives, fellow Rotarians (Afghans), senior Afghan Government officials, US Military members (US Marines), Afghan law enforcement officers, local community elders, Afghan University Chancellors, hospital administrators, Department of Corrections staff etc... and ordinary Afghans in both city and remote rural environments. Since then great support has been given to the Childlight Foundation projects that support the Afghan people, particularly women and children.

Bridging the Australian Community with Afghanistan

Continuing in her commitment to bridge an important gap between Australians and the people of Afghanistan, Kay Danes has documented her travel experiences in Afghanistan to provide her fellow Australians with a glimpse of a world they may never see, and of people they may never meet. Her book is titled, Beneath the Pale Blue Burqa and is an important contribution to the selfless efforts of all who have gone before to brave the perils of Afghanistan. Endorsed by the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Australia, His Excellency Dr Amanullah Jayhoon. The book powerfully illustrates the human will to persevere against overwhelming odds, particularly highlighting how women and children, in particular, struggle to survive in a man’s war.

It portrays the positive impact our soldiers are having in reconstruction and stabilization, and explores broader issues about: women’s role in Afghan society, domestic violence, religion, physical and psychological trauma, disabilities and health, social justice, civil rights, drug eradication and community development. Kay Danes uses the insights gained in that time to penetrate to the heart of Afghanistan and to demonstrate that even in the harshest environments hopes springs eternal. Kay Danes demonstrates in her book that good can prevail and that small initiatives can deliver life-changing opportunities even for those living in among the harshest environments in the planet. Proceeds from this book are donated to: Rotary, The Royal Australian Regiment to support fallen soldiers and their families; the Commando Welfare Trust – supporting families of soldiers killed or wounded in battle, the Leukemia Foundation. (Beneath the Pale Blue Burqa)

Creating Human Rights and Social Justice Awareness

Kay is one of three people behind the now world-renowned the Foreign Prisoner Support Service (FPSS).

The aim of the website, that averages 500,000 hits a month, is to highlight foreign incarceration, the varying judicial processes, and how human and civil rights fit into the reality of that picture. It is an invaluable source for anyone wanting to learn more about social justice and foreign internment and for families to get connected to advocates and legal/government support. 

Kay Danes’ presentation and message are for everyone: students of human and community services; current community workers; teachers and lecturers; senior secondary students; and all socially aware community members. Kay produced a DVD with a strong anti drug trafficking message for young people. This was shown at Sydney’s Homebake Festival to over 30,000 young people. Kay also spent an entire day talking one on one to young people about the choices they make and the unintended consequences.

Kay’s contributions provide a vital free service to Australians and to the international community, including our own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Kay fully appreciates that to explore the boundaries of what is possible and to gain advantage in any given situation requires measured advice from trusted counsel with wisdom gained from a global view. Kay bases her non-political bipartisan approach on the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, in recognition of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family being the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Families Behind Bars

In early 2008, Kay’s second book was published by a leading Australian Publisher (New Holland Publishers). The book titled: ‘Families Behind Bars – stories of Injustice, Endurance and Hope’ is based on dozens of real life stories of people Kay has been either directly or indirectly involved with as a social justice advocate. For those people and their families particularly, it is important that they have a point of reference, a book and a person they can turn to for help when all else fails them.  Kay Danes has helped to reduce the prejudice in the community about people who are imprisoned, and has generated greater understanding to the plight of families who have loved ones detained in foreign prisons. She has helped people in the community understand globally transferable issues relating to social justice and human rights and how they impact on our community, International treaties and mandates. (Families Behind Bars)

Standing Ground

In 2009, a new book written by Kay was released titled: Standing Ground. It is helping to inspire and strengthen the moral authority and courage needed by journalists, activists and student and religious leaders seeking to challenge the despotic one party regimes in Laos and other countries that continue to oppress, imprison and murder their own citizens and visiting foreigners who inconveniently get in their way. The freedom-loving people of Laos deserve a government that will provide an open-society, transparency, basic human rights and economic prosperity. Standing Ground serves as powerful testimony to those who share these aspirations for the people of Laos and other countries facing a similar plight. Kay Danes has demonstrated exceptional courage to stand up to tyranny, speak truth to power, and help those suffering under the most difficult of circumstances in Laos and other countries. Her efforts to speak out are bringing hope and dignity to those who have been stripped of these most fundamental and important elements of our humanity. (Standing Ground)

Service Above Self through Rotary

Unlike many public figures who command large speaking or performance fees, Kay supports her community as a volunteer. Her public profile generates much needed support to local community issues; At Risk Youth, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence, Child Protection, Cultural and Ethnic issues, Mental Illness (PTSD) and Depression.

In 2011, Kay was named a Paul Harris Fellow -- the most distinguished Rotary award made to individuals who have given significantly, through their involvement, within the community in the spirit of ‘Service above Self’.

As a member of Rotary, Kay uses her profile to support numerous Rotary projects both in Australia and overseas. Kay volunteered as a PR Director of the Rotary Club of Redlands Bayside and the subcommittee of the Redlands Classic Ride committee that conducts an annual cycle for charity ride in the Redlands with close to 1000 riders attending. Total funds raised so far amount to $100,000. The funds raised are donated back into the community to support local charities.

Kay relentlessly seeks ways to support local charities and in November 3, 2010, she organised a special fundraising event to support the Rotary Foundation (Rotary’s charity that supports local community projects) and themed to create awareness about the plight of women and children affected by poverty and war. Proceeds from her book were donated on the night to the Rotary Foundation ($2000).

Kay was awarded the 2009 International Community Service Award for creating awareness and respect for the principles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in her local community. She was also named the City of Redlands Inaugural Winner of the Women Making a Difference Certificate for her contributions to creating awareness on a variety of issues affecting women (social justice, domestic violence, mental health) and was a category winner for Social Justice/Human Rights, for service to community.

Kay was awarded the 2010 Bowman Award from the Australian Government in recognitition of her service to the community.

In 2011 she was nominated as a Peace Women Award finalist for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. 

Millennium Projects: 2012/2013 'Light the World For Hope' - Kay is Patron and co-founder of this new project aimed to provide affordable, portable solar lighting to many of the 1.4 billion people who do not have access to lighting in the target regions of Afghanistan, Africa, Cambodia, East Timor, Fiji, Philippines and Vanuatu. Kay has partnered with Premier Power, a Redlands family owned business, that shares her vision to advance the development of urban poor communities by providing them with high efficiency lighting systems to replace the use of kerosene, candles and other forms of lighting which are both toxic and dangerous.  Better lighting provides children, in particular, with more study time at night resulting in better education.

Promoting support to vulnerable women in the Australian community

Kay takes a strong interest in Women’s issues in particular, supporting our vulnerable women in the community. She is often seen lobbying in support of issues affecting women and regularly speaks at functions promoting support to; victims of violence, multiculturalism, Cancer Research, International Women’s Day, White Balloon Day, Rotary, Soroptimists, Scope, Zonta, and numerous other communities based non profit organisations supporting women.

Kay is an honorary Ambassador for the City of Redlands Women’s Information Network, and keenly promotes the interests, and education of Women at the RWIN Women’s Expo and other events.

Kay Danes was a key note speaker at the City of Redlands Community Forum: Transcending Abuse. She set an exceptionally productive, constructive ‘human rights’ tone for the entire event. Kay stimulates community spirit and arouses the determination to make the world a better place for all.

Kay was a Guest speaker to the SIDS and Kids Annual Fundraising Luncheon. Kay continues to generate awareness to help SIDS and Kids Queensland broadened its service provision to support people who have been affected by the death of a child from any cause – not just Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Kay financially supports the Leukaemia Foundation of Qld and was a guest speaker to their Annual Supporters Luncheon where she donated the proceeds from the sale of her books on the day to the LFQ. Kay also supported the LFQ's youth conference as a guest speaker.  

In 2011, Kay was the key note speaker for the Qld State Government's Child Protection Week.

Kay is Patron of the Gold Coast Writer's Association and encourages and supports writers from all genres, age groups and levels of writing to grow, learn and excel in their craft. Her mentoring and industry contacts has empowered others, unfamiliar with the industry, to secure publishing agreements in order to tell their stories of overcoming adversity.  Kay promotes literacy to give women in particular, a voice – in their families, in political life and on the world stage. She believes that it is a first step towards personal freedom and broader prosperity. When women are literate, it is all society that gains.Kay has participated in many literary events, writer's festivals, literary workshops and conferences, all with a mind to empower women in their quest to share their voice.

Volunteer Service to the Australian Defence Community

Kay Danes is an esteemed member of the Australian Defence Community and works tirelessly to provide a secure environment, to establish specific self help projects designed to assist service families in overcoming the effects of mobility and hardships arising from military deployments and continued service. Kay Danes has provided extensive volunteer service, over two decades, to the Australian Defence Force community. She has instigated a number of important initiatives to support ADF members and their families; inclusive, welfare and support projects as the President of the Army Families (WA) Association, extensive lobbying for recognition for Australian soldiers killed, wounded or injured on war like or non-war like service to the Nation which her cause has now close to 30,000 petitioners -


Founding Auxiliary for Commando Families

When the 1st Commando Regiment was mandated with operational service in 2009, through her own initiative and with permission from the Commanding Officer of the Unit, Kay Danes founded the 1st Commando Regiment Auxiliary and became its inaugural President. In this role, Kay worked tirelessly to provide a secure environment, to establish specific self help projects designed to assist service families in overcoming the effects of mobility and hardships arising from long overseas military deployments and continued service.

Founding the Defence Family Magazine

In another first, Kay Danes took a two page photocopied black and white newsletter and through her own personal time and effort, sought funding and sponsorship and single-handedly transformed it into an impressive full colour-glossy 40 page magazine ‘The Sandgroper’, distributed free of charge to Defence Families all over Western Australia and to the far north Pilbara region. Remarkably, Kay Danes created this professional publication through her own personal initiative, on her own home computer and with limited computer skills.  Despite initial opposition, Kay continued to promote the need to revolutionise the publication by transforming it into a ‘Tri-Service Defence Publication’ [Army, Navy and RAAF]. To limit any reliance on Defence Funding, Kay Danes approached corporate sponsors and successfully engaged them, thus establishing a link back for many benefits to flow into the Defence family community. ‘The Sandgroper’ publication became a vital source of information for Defence families, providing them easy access to numerous Defence organisations, non-profit groups, corporate support and social, education and welfare networks. It also engaged the Veterans community to support the existing bonds between current serving Defence members and their families to former Defence personnel and their families. 

Raising $5 Million dollars to preserve SAS History

One of her least known contributions to the Defence Community was her service as a volunteer to the SASR Historical Collection. Kay Danes was appointed as the executive secretary, a role that she undertook as a volunteer for two years.  Kay contributed significantly to promoting the history of the SASR for Unit Pride and Commemoration. Kay consistently demonstrated a creative strength and successfully handled multiple projects at the same time. She worked long hours on many occasions, even giving up weekends, to seek out corporate sponsorship. The SASRHC Committee secured pledges of over AUD$5 million dollars in cash and kind. These funds would have realised ‘The Vision’ of the Committee to build a ‘SAS Museum’ based on International Standards, but for a change of political will by Defence.  

Charity through Art

Kay Danes formed a charitable entity ‘Art History’ to promote a military artist, who was commissioned to commemorate the trails of a soldier in SASR. The artist produced a series of impressive original Artworks which Kay Danes personally paid for ($25,000). This was another historical first, as the SAS Regiment didn't have any collection of artworks depicting its entire history and sacrifices made by the men and women of SASR. These artworks were donated to the SAS Regiment. Kay then donated thousands of dollars worth of limited edition artworks [prints] to various entities such as: the soldiers trust, the SAS Association, the SASR "Blackhawk" Resources Trust, the WA Army Museum, the RSL, Perth Legacy and a nearby children's hospital. Kay donated the artwork titled; `Calm before the Storm' to the 4 RAR `Commando' unit.

Mental Illness Awareness – Contribution to Defence

Having overcome clinical depression and PTSD, Kay has spent years working with Veterans and serving Defence members dealing with mental health issues. Kay contributed to the production of a training video that Defence now provides to all Soldiers deploying overseas in warzones. The video provides strategies on how to get through life-threatening situations that may be experienced by soldiers operating in war zones and/or hostile environments. This is an invaluable contribution that may help save the lives of members of the Australian Defence Force.

All information is Copyright 2012 Kay Danes - All Rights Reserved - No Reprint Without Permission

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