#UOWLostChildren Was A Success… Here’s Why
The #UOWLostChildren event held on Monday 27 this week, was an event dreamt up by UOW Amnesty International Club President Maddie Burkitt, and myself. We partnered with I Am A Boat Person, a Sydney-based refugee advocacy charity founded and run by young Shire residents, to bring Amnesty International Australia’s #LostChildren campaign to a local context, where UOW students could participate in their own way, and reflect on the issue by participating in something fun.
When planning the event, it was our intention to create a sense of nostalgia as a way for UOW students and staff to go back to their childhoods and remember what they enjoyed as kids. We remembered the holidays, sports games, beach days, and family celebrations which we all look back on with such joy – but not often with appreciation for the privilege and freedom which made those memories possible.
This is the essence of the national #LostChildren campaign: to reflect on our happy, safe, free childhoods, to highlight the fact that children in immigration detention don’t get to make any. There are currently 103 children locked up inside immigration detention centres on Nauru, the third-smallest sovereign state in the world. Nauru agreed to host an Australian offshore detention centre in exchange for foreign aid in in 2012. On the other hand, there are currently a total of 1406 children living in immigration detention facilities, or community detention, in Australia. Some of the children I have seen living in immigration detention live in a suburb close to where some UOW students might live; Villawood, right near Bankstown. It is IAABP and Amnesty International Australia’s aim to get kids out of detention; it is no place for a child, let alone an adult, due to the mental impact prolonged detention has on a developing mind.
The #UOWLostChildren event brought the issue out into the open and provoked several conversations with students and staff about the issue through 3 stalls that were set up on the day.
- 1) The Nostalgia Canteen, where we let participants create their own ‘school canteen’ style packed lunch full of LCMS, Fantales, Minties, Muesli bars, Maggi noodles, and Zappos.
- 2) The Memory Station, where we asked participants to fill out one of our ‘Childhood Memory’ forms with textas and glitter pens, then stick it to our memory wall.
- 3) The Impact Station, where we asked participants to sign an Amnesty petition asking the Australian government to release all children from immigration detention, and where we set up a sample ‘Back to School’ pack which IAABP would donate to kids in community detention in NSW.
We received an unexpected and very positive response from everyone who approached us on the day, resulting in countless paper bags filled with school canteen snacks, almost 100 childhood memories shared, 5 pages worth of Amnesty petitions signed, and approximately $50 raised.
This response shows that what the politicians of Australia are saying about young voters’ apathy couldn’t be further from the truth; we do care, we just need a way to participate that we can get excited about.
Look at for future IAABP and UOW Amnesty International Club collaborations coming soon!