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Who will speak?

A baby girl born today in my community will live to be 82. She will go to school and university. A girl born today in an indigenous community will live to 72 and has only a 47% chance of completing high school. It seems incomprehensible that such disparity can exist in “the lucky country”. In 2011-12 Australia will spend $4.8 billion on overseas aid; but often we overlook the people whose voices go unheard in our own backyard. Most change makers in Australia are like me. Well educated, with tertiary qualifications and networks that will listen when they speak. But theirs are not the communities that need the most help.

I see that there are communities that need change more than my own. But I cannot and will not speak for them. I am not the best person to identify their needs. Change must come from within. But there are significant barriers to people from these communities becoming change makers.

There needs to be more focus on empowering young people and providing them with the skills to focus their ideas. The potential for successful change is greatly improved when the key change makers understand basic project management, advocacy and needs identification. By informing their voices we will harness their vision.

I overcome this barrier to constructive change by training young women. In a recent project, Girl Guides Australia used donated video conferencing technology to connect 75 young women from across the country. Through face-to-face interaction, the women were trained and then given the opportunity to ask questions directly to members of parliament. However, coming away from the forum, most did not receive enough support to follow through with their personal change projects. This is where networks like World Pulse could help. The Action Alerts and Resource Exchange allows for both physical and mentoring support beyond the abilities of small organisations. For example, a girl struggling to raise support for a recycling program could turn to Resource Exchange with a ‘need’ for advice. She could then share her experience and newfound skills to inspire others like her through PulseWire ‘Voices Rising’.

One of the major challenges for change makers in Australia is finding a platform to raise awareness for their cause. Our market of non-government organisations is saturated. We have a rainbow of awareness ribbons and in the last two weeks we have had four national awareness days run by major charities. This is creating unhealthy competition as causes jostle for space and support in a growing sector. Quite simply, we need much better collaboration between organisations when undertaking major projects. Online communities will facilitate this collaboration on a larger scale than ever before. Hopefully we can use them to share our skills and change the face of the Australian change maker.

Comments

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Great perspective

I commend you for recognizing the differences across groups of change-makers and for trying to be a catalyst for the voices that are not heard in Australia. I would love to know why you think focusing on indigenous youth and the areas you outlined, is the most pressing need? Does this come from your experience working within those communities?

Great job,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Jane_Australia's picture

Thanks Rachael

Thanks Rachael,

I sit on the Policy Advisory Council for the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC). As a national board, we have tried to engage young indigenous people at the very top level of the organisation with limited success. From the format of our meetings to the style of our recruitment processes for such positions (not just for AYAC but for many similar organisations and roles), Indigenous youth are not being given the best chance possible. Many of these positions, where young voices can stimulate real change and policy development rely heavily on written submissions and academic achievement/extracurricular activities.

A number of the representatives on the AYAC Policy Advisory Council work with indigenous youth. While the rest of Australia is rapidly improving in effectively engaging young people in advocacy, youth with multicultural or Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander backgrounds are not engaging at the same rate.

In terms of poverty and human rights deprivations, Australia is very lucky. However, it is clear that in this area, Closing the Gap between indigenous and non-indigenous statistics should be our most pressing concern. And for that to happen we need the voices of young people and of women to be heard.

I am very interested in the ideas of using Web 2.0 and networks like WorldPulse to improve this situation. I see them as tools we can use to allow input into policy and identification of needs, but also to establish identity, pride and maintain culture. There are at least 74 different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Australia, and web 2.0 tools would be a great way to integrate traditional teaching with formal Australian education.

At the moment these are just ideas and visions. It is fairly future focused, since Web 2.0 will become more universally accessible in Australia with the introduction of the Australian Government's National Broadband Network. This will bring high speed internet to 93% of the population by 2021(hopefully).

Discovering World Pulse and reading others' blogs about their projects has inspired me and will certainly help with future project planning.

Thanks for your interest

Jane

Hiba's picture

Dear Jane, Great post! I

Dear Jane,

Great post! I couldn't find better words than those of Niemoller's to agree with your message:

"First they came for the "them"
and I did not speak out
because I was not "one of them"
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a communist
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionists
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Best,
Hiba

Kangabe's picture

Great

This is a nice posting, these girls need face to face discussions to raise their issues. Looking at the percentages of girls who will complete their education (very sure to complete their university level) I feel attached. Back to my country (Uganda) you can be sure of one in a whole districts with a total population of not less than 200,000 people.

Kangabe Edith

Lombe's picture

Connecting through World Pulse

Hi Jane from 'down under'

Thank you for sharing your experiences and work you are doing with women and youth in your area.

In exploring follow ups, is it possible to utilise mobile phone facilities with internet connection to facilitate access to networks including World Pulse.

Keep on writing.

Lombe

Lombe Mwambwa
"I think a woman has two choices: either she's a feminist or a masochist." Gloria Steinem

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