Spoken by: Alasdair Roy, ACT Children & Young People Commissioner
Music: 'Stronger Smarter' performed by the students, teachers and community of Jervis Bay School
For more information about the ACT Children & Young People Commissioner, visit: ACTkids.act.gov.au
"As the ACT Children & Young People Commissioner I’ve been working with the local community in the Jervis Bay Territory for a number of years to try to improve things for children and young people here. It is such a beautiful place, with a strong Aboriginal community, but a number of governments have responsibilities for providing services here, and the interests of children and young people often seem to get overlooked.
For me, the most important people to talk to about these issues are the children and young people themselves. But we wanted to do this in a way that was really engaging. I was excited to find out about comic artist Sarah Firth, and the workshops she has done with children around the world, using drawing as a way to engage with children, so that they can have fun while they tell their stories.
We were delighted to work with Sarah to run a series of comic workshops with all of the children and young people at the Jervis Bay school, talking to them about their futures and the future of their community. It was wonderful getting to know all the students, and their teachers and some family members over the three sessions, and we had a lot of fun learning comic drawing skills.
The students participated with a huge amount of enthusiasm, and really threw themselves into the drawing, taking it very seriously, and putting a lot of time and thought into their pictures. There was also a real sense of wonder and fun, and they were just a delight to be around. Some of the stories they shared with us were very powerful, and really gave us an insight into their lives and what they want for the future.
It is clear that the children and young people here really value being part of such a close and connected community and have a strong connection to land and the natural environment. There are things that they would like improved for their community, and there were lots of ideas about improving recreational facilities, like skate and bike parks, and making life better, by making things more affordable and improving housing.
It was also clear that the children and young people here have lots of hopes and dreams for their futures, from working as a vet, to becoming an artist, musician, teacher and childcare worker, scientist, engineer, geologist and park ranger. They have strong visions of the homes they would like to live in, and the lives they would like to have in future.
The school and their principal Bob Pastor shares these dreams for them, and is working hard to give them these opportunities, encouraging them to come to school everyday, and to get a great education. It is so important that all governments and agencies listen to what these children and young people have to say, and work together to give them the chance to make their dreams a reality.
We feel really privileged to have had the chance to meet with the wonderful students, families and teachers at the School, and thank you all for making the workshops such a success."