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29

Sep

My article for the August issue of Vogue Australia x
Available on iPad through the Vogue Australia App: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/vogue-australia/id471206426?mt=8

My article for the August issue of Vogue Australia x

Available on iPad through the Vogue Australia App: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/vogue-australia/id471206426?mt=8

11

Nov

A beautiful film about how our childhood experiences shape our adult realities. A secondary theme explores the need for education systems to not only cater to a diversity of children but take the time to understand them too. 

09

Aug

An incredibly fascinating take on the connection between good design and social justice. One of half of the dynamic duo you’ll see in the video is Australia’s own Russell Kerr of RMIT University, Melbourne. Kerr and Canniffe have an incredible gift in making the connection between every day people and social justice seem blindingly obvious, in a super creative, mind-blowing, and intellectually stimulating way. 

A MUST SEE FOR ALL. 

(Source: fabrica.it)

05

Jul

HERE IT IS! The Videeooooo! 

Directed by Mr. Loki Ball and filmed by Mr. Ryan Diefenbach

The fantastic Listen To Children banner that you won’t be able to take your eyes off was designed and created from start to finish by Creative Directors Rojda, Loki, Lauren and Sarah.

Great job everyone, had a ball of fun being part of it!  


Help support our effort to protect and promote child rights by donating viahttp://www.everydayhero.com.au/uts_lss_for_child_rights

29

Jun

THE ESSAY: Art & Human Rights Activism, one of the same

Marius Janusauskus is a masters student at the prestigious Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He studies fashion and considers himself both an artist and an activist. He says in an endearing Belgian accent: ‘…fashion for me is research, it’s research about the human…about who they are and how they think’. He perfectly embodies this concept in his obscure collection above where models walk the catwalk with cone-like fixtures attached to their heads, symbolising an inherent ‘tunnel vision’ complex and blatant disregard for the possibilities that surround them. 

Janusauskus’ work would suggest that gone are the days where activists were only hippies sporting patterned flare pants and bandanas. Perhaps it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or what you wear. Perhaps what matters is the kind of mindset that you choose for yourself and your willingness to shout about it. 

If we’re able to think about one’s mindset defining human right activism rather than one’s clothes, profession or ego - perhaps you could say that human rights activists are artists in their own right. Now, before you write me off as dazed and confused - think about it. 

The role of an artist (fashion designers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers) is to imagine and create an alternate version of their subject. Van Gogh famously painted an alternate version of a fruit bowl. Henri Matisse created quite striking and provocative alternate versions of discerning women. Monet, impressionist interpretations of his secret garden. Picasso’s pioneering of the avant-garde Cubist movement in the early 20th Century saw him take ordinary subjects, like women and transform that subject into something completely new until it hardly resembled its original form. In Cubist artworks, objects are analysed, broken up and reassembled in an abstract form - instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. This same process of ‘unpacking’ in this case, social justice issues, assessing a multitude of viewpoints and finding solutions in alternate policies, programs and frameworks is all but too familiar to human rights activists like the Child Rights Taskforce

In Picasso’s case, society called him outrageous but in time, decided he was a genius. In the same way, society had had the audacity to deem women’s rights outrageous, the concept of unity between ourselves and our first people was ridiculed. In time, although these groups still face prejudice, the idea of equality itself has become widely accepted.

Artists, and if I may, human rights activists choose to play and work with possibilities rather than What Is. They dare to dream up alternate versions of society rather than accepting the way things are often under the pretext of being a realist. If you’re a fan of Abed from American smart-comedy show Community you’ll know what I mean (reference Abed’s obsession with alternate timelines). 

I feel that regular people live their life based on what they’ve been given and what they have - rarely stopping to not only consider other options or alternatives but considering that those alternatives could become a reality. I find this frightening. A world without imagination and critical thinking is dangerous because it places boundaries upon ourselves and on each other.

One way these boundaries are placed is in how we label ourselves and each other: right, wrong, undeserving, outcast. These labels are so powerful because honestly, we care about what people think of us and it effects even the strongest of people, we see examples in how regularly celebrities complain about how they are portrayed in the media and in the dangerous plague of cyber-bullying of 'outcasts' which have taken over our schools nationwide.

It doesn’t stop there. The problem also lies in how we limit ourselves. I’m talking about  (insert name) who is a talented interior designer yet has spent the last 10 years in a job that she hates, but is nevertheless secure. The lawyer who is in it for the money but wants desperately to run a cafe. Once we’ve killed our own dreams, we give ourselves permission to kill those of others. I’m talking about those that argue that the sufferings of indigenous children in Australia are the consequences of abuses our generation didn’t commit, and are therefore not our problem. Activists instead take What Is and imagine, draw, visualise and campaign for an Australia where indigenous children have the same opportunities and same access to basic services and have the same life expectancy as their non-aboriginal peers. It takes an artist to be able to see past what is and conjure up the infinite possibilities that could and should make up our future as a nation. 

The message here is simple: when we place limitations on ourselves in those around us, especially victims of human rights abuses, we’re limiting our future as a community and a nation. 

We must dispel this idea that human rights activism is a niche focus group - it is something that every single person has a connection to and should take on board in their daily lives. After all, there’s an artist in us all. Get your Picasso on and get painting, help us conjure up and materialise a better, stronger future for Australia. 

26

Jun

Political Football Leading us Nowhere - are we ready to graduate up to a solution-based dialogue?

If you’ve switched on the radio or television in the past week, cringed, and promptly switched it off again out of pure frustration, if you’ve flicked through pages of your local or national newspaper (although the Fairfax job cutting sitch would suggest you haven’t) taken a deep breath and slammed it shut again, I’m with you.

It seems all I’ve heard or seen of late is the political to-and-froing of our political leaders, over issues we’ve discussed a thousand times: mining, carbon tax, asylum seekers and the malaysian solution, Gina Rinehart and the threat she poses to quality, independent journalism. My frustration at least, comes from a place of wanting to hear (bipartisan or not), an in depth, informed, genuine solution-based discussion rather than a perpetual  blame game. 

As we’re here in Canberra for the parliamentary event 'Listen To Children: a voice that matters' held by the UNICEF Australia Parliamentary Association together with UNICEF Australia, Save the Children, the National Childrens and Youth Law Centre and The Healing Foundation, we’re all hoping to generate a quality discussion that will provoke a genuine and ready response to the issues facing our children.

Addressing the root causes 

I’m reading a great presentation by the Australian Centre for Child Protection which seems advocates exactly that: an open discussion of the root causes for issues. What are the reasons for the rate of children out-of-home care increasing by 51.5% since 2005 and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 24 more times more likely to be in jail between the ages of 10-17? Rather than looking at who we can blame for these issues, the presentation looks at the reasons for behavioral and health patterns, the psychology behind the decisions made by juvenile offenders, linking cause and effect between what we’re not giving these kids and what they’re doing in reaction to that.

Investing in quality research and data collection 

Quality research and data collection is something we need to both invest in, talk about, and take seriously. The government can start by allowing themselves to be educated by the Child Rights Taskforce, and all of you out there being humanitarian rock stars who have genuine knowledge of what kids need and want and how we can go about supporting and empowering them. 

New and improved solutions 

The statistics that come out of effective research are so powerful because they establish a pattern. Where there’s a pattern there should be a light-bulb moment where we go ‘there is something wrong with the environment we’re providing here and that needs to change’. There’s an enormous opportunity for change and we’re often playing the same game and expecting different results. For example, many rural and regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children still don’t have access to basic health care, safety, security, education much less culturally sensitive mechanisms to hear their voices and concerns.If the government does not commit to better, more informed solutions, we will have the same results. We will have 10.9% of children living in poverty, and a lower life expectancy for our indigenous children and their community.

An inclusive approach

This goes to all of you out there who’ve yelled the right answer at your t.v screen during Who Wants to be a Millionaire and wished you’d had the chance to be more than just a spectator.

I’ve only just come to realise the wealth of resources and information we have in the wider Australian community: we have academics, researchers, teachers, parents, sociologists, psychologists and regular Australians who need to be let in on this conversation. 

Political football is in essence spectator sport. We don’t want to be spectators we want to be players to a fair game. 

(Source: flickr.com)

Roll Call Announcements: TOUCH DOWN IN CANBERRA!

I’m sitting all cosied up at ‘The Front’ cafe in Canberra. I’m here with all the incredible individuals that make up the Child Rights Taskforce, led by UNICEF and NCYLC.

We’ve gathered the troops, and we’re here to put forward our collective voice in asking the parliament to Listen To Children. We’re all here in Canberra for a parliamentary event called ‘Listen To Children: a voice that matter’ held in celebration of the introduction of a National Childrens Commissioner. The Child Rights Taskforce have invited MPs and political leaders from a broad range of areas, encouraging them to HEAR the voices of our children.

To give you a bit of context, the National Children’s Commissioner Bill passed barely 48 hours ago (meaning its a done deal, guaranteed), the United Nation’s Concluding Observations from the Review in Geneva earlier this month have just come out last week (this means we now have no misgivings as to what exactly the UN thought of how Australia is protecting and advancing the rights of its children). Just yesterday, The Age Reported that according to the UN ‘We fail on child rights’. Click here to read that article

CEO of UNICEF Norman Gillespie and head of NCYLC Mathew Keeley as well as members of the Taskforce will be imparting their wisdom and vision for the NCC - I’m so excited about hearing their thoughts no doubt I’ll be scribbling down notes and quoting them on twitter @JanChildRights so watch this space! 

I’ll be participating in a Youth Panel Discussion specific to the National Childrens Commissioner. The Youth Panel Discussion will be led by Canberra based ABC Journalist Stephen Dziedzic. He’ll be holding a discussion with Benson Saulo (Former UN Youth Ambassador) and Mujitaba Ahmadi, (Youth Representative from ChilOut) and myself! 

I’ll  be keeping you posted via:The Blog

                                               Facebook.com/ListenToChildren

                                               Twitter @JanChildRights

Look forward to hearing your thoughts! x

(Source: digbicks)

24

Jun

Role Call Announcements: 12yo Natalie enlightens a nation TONIGHT

Dear class,

We’ve just had some really really exciting news - Natalie El-Helou,  the 12 year old UNICEF spokesperson who represented the children of Australia at the United Nations last year will be on Channel 7 tonight at 6pm - support the courage and determination of this incredible young Australian by grabbing a cuppa tonight and tuning in with friends and family - not to be missed! 

22

Jun

Show and Tell: ‘My Mother Declared My Room a Disaster’

AYAC (Australian Youth Affairs Coalition) tweeted this morning "It’s almost a mantra in child psychology that we underestimate the competence of the young mind" - Dr Knight

Well, case in point…

In 1984, a seventh-grader named Andy Smith wrote to then-President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, with a request:

'Today my mother declared my bedroom a disaster area. I would like to request federal funds to hire a crew to clean up my room.
Reagan replied with the following letter’ 

Andy Smith

Irmo, South Carolina

May 11, 1984

Dear Andy:

I’m sorry to be so late in answering your letter but as you know I’ve been in China and found your letter here upon my return. 

Your application for disaster relief has been duly noted but I must point out one technical problem: the authority declaring the disaster is supposed to make the request. In this case your mother. 

However setting that aside I’ll have to point out the larger problem of available funds. This has been a year of disasters, 539 hurricanes as of May 4th and several more since, numerous floods, forest fires, drought in Texas and a number of earthquakes. What I’m getting at is that funds are dangerously low. 

May I make a suggestion? This administration, believing that government has done many things that could better be done by volunteers at the local level, has sponsored a Private Sector Initiative program, calling upon people to practice voluntarism in the solving of a number of local problems. 

Your situation appears to be a natural. I’m sure your mother was fully justified in proclaiming your room a disaster. Therefore you are in an excellent position to launch another volunteer program to go along with the more than 3,000 already underway in our nation—congratulations.

Give my best regards to your mother.

Sincerely, 

Ronald Reagan

(Source: lettersofnote.com)

Local initiative to support access to education but SELF-EMPOWERMENT too. 
Sometimes the simplest ideas can just stop you in your tracks - but these are the most powerful don’t you think?
I found this quite fitting as 2012 is actually National Year of Reading (see http://www.love2read.org.au for funky shindigs like Byron Bay Writers Festival 3-5 August)
Every child deserves that opportunity - to have access to the sheer joy and inspiration that comes with reading books (call me old-school but Jemba, you know what I mean!).
Needless to say, the Child Rights Taskforce (www.childrights.org.au) is passionate about all children (especially our most vulnerable groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, out-of-home care and asylum seeker children) having equal opportunities to education.  
I must admit - I couldn’t help thinking that education aside, more than half of all homeless people in Australia are children. There is something so profoundly unacceptable about that thought.

Local initiative to support access to education but SELF-EMPOWERMENT too. 

Sometimes the simplest ideas can just stop you in your tracks - but these are the most powerful don’t you think?

I found this quite fitting as 2012 is actually National Year of Reading (see http://www.love2read.org.au for funky shindigs like Byron Bay Writers Festival 3-5 August)

Every child deserves that opportunity - to have access to the sheer joy and inspiration that comes with reading books (call me old-school but Jemba, you know what I mean!).

Needless to say, the Child Rights Taskforce (www.childrights.org.au) is passionate about all children (especially our most vulnerable groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, out-of-home care and asylum seeker children) having equal opportunities to education.  

I must admit - I couldn’t help thinking that education aside, more than half of all homeless people in Australia are children. There is something so profoundly unacceptable about that thought.